Why can’t Japan assess 99% of the 1,325 deaths from COVID vaccinations?

A document from the expert committee of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare showing the gamma sign, indicating that the causal relationship between the vaccine and a death “cannot be assessed”, is seen in the Chiyoda district from Tokyo. (Mainichi / Hidenori Yazawa)

About 70% of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but of the 1,325 people who died as of October 24 after receiving their vaccines, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare says a causal link between vaccination and death cannot be confirmed for 99%, or 1317 cases. Why is it?

“Instead of just saying ‘cannot be assessed’ I want them to draw an appropriate conclusion,” said Yuji Okamoto, 63. His son Hiroyuki, a resident of Higashihiroshima town, died at the age of 30 after graduating from his second Moderna. Inc. vaccine. Although Yuji asked the Ministry of Health about the causal relationship between the vaccine and his son’s death, he still hasn’t received a convincing answer.

Hiroyuki received his second injection on August 22. The next day, he developed a fever, so he took an antipyretic and recovered on August 24. But despite the fact that he then went to work, he was found dead in his futon the next morning. Hiroyuki did not have any underlying health issues or allergies. The vaccine which was administered to him was manufactured on the same line and at the same time as batches recognized contaminated by foreign objects, but his death certificate after forensic autopsy indicates that his cause of death is “unknown”.

Of the 1,325 people who died after receiving COVID vaccines as of October 24, 1,279 received Pfizer Inc. vaccines and 46 received Moderna vaccines. Deaths tend to be higher in people receiving Pfizer vaccines, which are widely available for the elderly.

Experts have concluded that an overwhelming number of deaths from COVID injections cannot be assessed. Of the 1,325 cases, it was judged that a causal relationship between vaccines and deaths could not be confirmed in 1,317 – including 1,272 in which people had received Pfizer injections – due to lack of information and other reasons. Experts have drawn conclusions for only eight people. In all of these eight cases, they claim that a causal relationship between the vaccination and their death cannot be confirmed.

Among the 1,325, the most common causes of death were ischemic heart disease, heart failure and stroke. Eighty-four percent of those who died were 65 years of age or older. Because older people are more likely to die from chronic illnesses, investigation can be difficult. Eight people whose deaths were believed to have been unrelated to cause and effect were considered to have suffered from the progression of chronic diseases such as cancer.

But Hiroyuki was young and had no chronic illness. His father said angrily, “Even if the national government tells me that I should be convinced (by what he presented), it will never happen.

How, exactly, are deaths after receiving coronavirus vaccines studied?

Japan has a national system for reporting adverse reactions to vaccines. When a vaccinated person dies, on-site physicians and medical facilities should, based on the autopsy results and other information, conclude whether the death is “related”, “unrelated” or “cannot. be evaluated ”for a causal link to the vaccine, and report it to the national government.

The reports are first checked by the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, an independent, incorporated administrative body, and then by the expert committee of the Ministry of Health, for the national government to verify whether the evaluations are appropriate.

Many experts are involved in the decision, but in reality up to 99% of cases are classified as “cannot be assessed”. One of the reasons for this high number is that various causes of death, other than vaccines, can occur by coincidence. In addition, it is necessary to make a comparison with unvaccinated people to determine whether a symptom is an adverse reaction, but such a database does not exist in Japan.

“It is difficult to assess in a short time whether a death is due to the vaccine or not,” said a senior health ministry official. The World Health Organization has not requested a determination of the cause of death for individual cases, and it appears that there are many cases where the conclusion simply remains that they cannot be assessed.

But the US Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) system can statistically verify the causal relationship between vaccines and symptoms occurring after inoculation. More than 12 million members of the public participated, with data such as their immunization and medical facility visit histories accumulated anonymously. If symptoms of adverse reactions are reported after inoculation, they can be compared to the database to confirm if they are actual side effects.

Based on analysis by VSD and other methods, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is currently no clear causal relationship between cases of death and RNA vaccines. messenger from Pfizer and Moderna.

But it has also been found that myocarditis, which causes inflammation in particular of the heart muscle, can develop very rarely in young people who have been vaccinated. This led to an effective response, including issuing symptom warnings as a side effect.

Although the database is considered useful for drawing certain conclusions, it uses personal information, which must be managed and protected. “It is not possible to build (such a database system) overnight,” said a senior health ministry official.

Japan’s current system for determining a causal relationship between vaccines and deaths appears to be at its limit. At this rate, with increasing vaccination rates in Japan, the number of cases that cannot be assessed will only increase, and public anxiety and mistrust of the vaccine will likely spread.

(Japanese original by Hidenori Yazawa, Department of Medical and Lifestyle News, and Akihiro Nakajima, Hiroshima Office)

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