The source for Sen. Ron Johnson's claim is a database of unverified reports often cited by conspiracy theorists.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Wednesday falsely claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine had caused "over 19,000 deaths worldwide," citing the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a database of raw, unverified information.
Johnson made the claim during an appearance on Fox News Radio's "Brian Kilmeade Show."
"I've talked to the vaccine-injured. Vaccine injuries are real," said Johnson. "The VAERS system, today, the latest report, over 19,000 deaths worldwide associated with these three vaccines, over 900,000 adverse events, and the CDC, the FDA is just looking the other way, they're going, What, me worry? What's there to look at here?"
VAERS is a government website for collecting information on possible adverse effects related to vaccines. It is a database of raw information that allows anyone to contribute a report.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes on its website:
Healthcare providers, vaccine manufacturers, and the public can submit reports to VAERS. While very important in monitoring vaccine safety, VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness. The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable. Most reports to VAERS are voluntary, which means they are subject to biases.
The CDC also notes:
Reports of death after COVID-19 vaccinations are rare. More than 459 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through November 29, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 10,128 reports of death (0.0022%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.
The unverified reports entered on the VAERS website have been a source of untrue claims about COVID-19 vaccines promoted by conspiracy theorists.
Johnson has repeatedly promoted falsehoods about the virus since the outbreak began in early 2020.
He attacked what he called "indiscriminate vaccination"; held a press conference spotlighting unverified vaccine side effects; praised an anti-vaccine activist who compared vaccination to the Holocaust; and falsely alleged that there is "mounting data" showing that vaccines don't work.
Johnson says he will not get vaccinated.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.