Abstract and Figures
Accurate estimates of COVID vaccine-induced severe adverse event and death rates are critical for risk-benefit ratio analyses of vaccination and boosters against SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in different age groups. However, existing surveillance studies are not designed to reliably estimate life-threatening event or vaccine-induced fatality rates (VFR). Here, regional variation in vaccination rates was used to predict all-cause mortality and non-COVID deaths in subsequent time periods using two independent, publicly available datasets from the US and Europe (month-and week-level resolutions, respectively). Vaccination correlated negatively with mortality 6-20 weeks post-injection, while vaccination predicted all-cause mortality 0-5 weeks post-injection in almost all age groups and with an age-related temporal pattern consistent with the US vaccine rollout. Results from fitted regression slopes (p<0.05 FDR corrected) suggest a US national average VFR of 0.04% and higher VFR with age (VFR=0.004% in ages 0-17 increasing to 0.06% in ages >75 years), and 146K to 187K vaccine-associated US deaths between February and August, 2021. Notably, adult vaccination increased ulterior mortality of unvaccinated young (<18, US; <15, Europe). Comparing our estimate with the CDC-reported VFR (0.002%) suggests VAERS deaths are underreported by a factor of 20, consistent with known VAERS under-ascertainment bias. Comparing our age-stratified VFRs with published age-stratified coronavirus infection fatality rates (IFR) suggests the risks of COVID vaccines and boosters outweigh the benefits in children, young adults and older adults with low occupational risk or previous coronavirus exposure. We discuss implications for public health policies related to boosters, school and workplace mandates, and the urgent need to identify, develop and disseminate diagnostics and treatments for life-altering vaccine injuries.