January 4, 2022

A headline widely shared on Facebook alleges that Pfizer’s own data show that the company’s COVID-19 vaccine causes more harm than good.

“Alarming Six Month Pfizer Data Show COVID Vaccine Causes More Illness Than it Prevents + Major Trial Flaws,” the headline states.

It appears on an article on a website that says it provides “the support you need to assert your right to decline the shots.”

The article was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The actual data from Pfizer does not support any such claim.

“Patently false statement. The headline is ludicrous,” said Dr. Robert Wachter, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

The headline alludes to a report that claims that six months of Pfizer’s own data shows that the company’s vaccine caused “increased sickness and death.”

That report “completely misstates” the Pfizer data, said Dr. Matthew Laurens of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

That data is reported in a New England Journal of Medicine study.

The study included some 46,000 people from the United States, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Germany and Turkey. Half received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and half received a placebo. The participants were checked after six months.

Among the conclusions:

  • The vaccine “continued to be safe and have an acceptable adverse-event profile. Few participants had adverse events leading to withdrawal from the trial.”
  • Vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 was 91.3% through six months of follow-up. That is, only 77 cases were detected in vaccine recipients after a second dose, compared with 850 cases in placebo recipients.
  • Of 31 patients who got severe COVID-19, 30 were placebo recipients and one was in the group that received the vaccine.
  • No deaths among people in the study were related to vaccination.

The statement is false and ridiculous. We rate it Pants on Fire!

This article was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for these fact checks here and more of their fact checks here.

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Tom Kertscher is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. Previously, he was a fact-checker for PolitiFact Wisconsin.
Tom Kertscher

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