Analysis: ‘Huge study finds worse side effects from COVID infection than from vaccination’ – Or does it?

According to the headline, a “Huge study finds worse side effects from COVID infection than from vaccination” (Arutz Sheva).

The question is: Does it really?

The study was conducted by the Clalit Health Fund in Israel, using data obtained from over two million people, and “compared rates of 25 adverse events between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, and separately, between unvaccinated individuals infected and not infected with coronavirus,” according to Clalit Research.

Their conclusion was that “the vaccine is safe, while coronavirus infection is associated with numerous serious adverse events.”

On the face of it, the scope of this particular research study was impressive indeed. 884,828 vaccinated individuals aged 16 and over were carefully matched with 884,828 unvaccinated individuals, Clalit says. “A separate analysis was conducted that estimated the rates of the same 25 potential adverse events among 173,106 unvaccinated individuals who were infected with the coronavirus, compared to 173,106 carefully matched controls who were not infected with the coronavirus.”

Locating individuals who are or are not vaccinated is obviously not a problem. Locating individuals who are or are not infected with coronavirus and are representative of the population as a whole is something else entirely.

Nowhere in Clalit’s summation of the study does the health fund reveal exactly how it located “infected individuals.” Presumably, those described as “uninfected” had received a negative PCR test. But what about those described as “infected”? Were they merely those who had received a positive PCR test – symptomatic or otherwise? Or were they selected for participation in the study based on the presence of actual illness?

The study doesn’t say.

What it does say is that the rate of myocardial infarction in vaccinated individuals was found to be 2.7 cases per 100,000, as opposed to 11 cases per 100,000 for those described as “infected.” Similar findings were reported for the other side effects investigated.

The usefulness of the study therefore hinges on what “infected” actually meant in this study. If it meant “anyone infected with the virus, regardless of symptoms, based on a positive PCR test,” then the results are indeed significant in indicating increased risk of COVID infection over vaccination consequences.

If, however, those “infected” were located based on self-reporting of symptoms (for instance, those who turned to their local Clalit health fund due to actual illness), then we are already talking about a subset of the “infected” who are significantly more ill than the average person with a positive PCR test result.

Since it is known that those experiencing COVID symptoms are a small percentage of those who merely test positive, this is a vital distinction to make.

And until it is made, the true results of this “huge study” are anyone’s guess.

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