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How bad is healthy vaccinee bias in observational data?
A little-noticed but crucial 2022 Hungarian study suggests it's bad enough that all the CDC's papers on Covid jab effectiveness are garbage. The 2022 paper also has more bad news for the mRNAs.
The most important open secret in public health is three words: healthy vaccinee effect.
Adults who get vaccinated are generally healthier and have better medical care than the unjabbed. Also, doctors often withhold vaccines from terminally ill people. Even a 2011 study of flu shots in hospice care excluded patients with under two months to live.
The importance of this bias to vaccine epidemiology can’t be overstated. It means “observational” studies - studies based on real-world use - overestimate how well vaccines work at preventing disease and death.
But for the public health experts who promote flu and Covid jabs for adults, the hidden bias is a feature, not a bug. Most of them have a Fight Club attitude towards it: the first rule of the healthy vaccinee effect is we don’t talk about the healthy vaccinee effect.
(THEY DON’T TALK ABOUT IT, BUT I DO.)
But last year Hungarian researchers broke the rule - and produced a fascinating paper, with particularly troubling findings for Pfizer’s mRNA jab.
In studying how well Covid shots worked in 2021, the researchers decided to adjust for the healthy vaccinee effect. As they explained:
Health consciousness, socioeconomic status, and health care use vary profoundly by vaccination status in the case of voluntary vaccinations… [and] can overestimate the health gain achieved by vaccines.
To figure out how powerful the effect might be, the researchers tracked deaths from all causes by vaccine status during summer 2021, when Hungary had almost no Covid infections or deaths. They had access to a national health insurance database of Hungarian adults over 18, so they knew exactly who was vaccinated and who had died.
Even fierce Covid jab advocate do not argue the shots reduce non-Covid deaths. So when Covid deaths are low, vaccinated and unvaccinated people should die at similar rates - assuming the shots are not increasing overall mortality.
But when they examined deaths in the summer of 2021, the researchers found unvaccinated Hungarians died at a roughly 30 percent higher rate than vaccinated people.
When they adjusted death rates to account for the fact that unvaccinated people were younger than vaccinated people and appeared to have fewer chronic diseases (which increase with age), the gap became even larger. Vaccinated Hungarians appeared to have about a 55 percent lower overall death rate in summer 2021 - again, a period when Covid was not a factor.
(Just a random picture of the Chain Bridge in Budapest to break things up, because the charts from the study are kinda boring. I was going to go with Barbara Palvin, Hungary’s most famous model, but I didn’t want to distract you. Seriously, don’t click that link.)
If Covid vaccines actually reduced deaths by 55 percent, they’d be the greatest advance in human health that science had ever produced.
That figure is beyond implausible, especially since overall death rates were normal in Hungary in summer 2021. (Roughly two in three Hungarian adults had been jabbed by then - if Covid vaccines had truly reduced all-cause deaths by 55 percent, the overall death rate would also have plunged.)
The only possible explanation for the gap is a massive healthy vaccinee effect.
As the researchers wrote, in a masterpiece of understatement:
This analysis could demonstrate that the pattern of uncontrolled confounding factors (e.g., smoking, obesity, seriousness of the included chronic diseases, chronic diseases not investigated, patients’ attitudes toward collaborating with health care services) varied across the vaccinated and unvaccinated cohorts.
Again, though, when the Centers for Disease Control and other health bureaucracies estimate how well Covid shots work by comparing hospitalizations or deaths in jabbed and unjabbed people, they never adjust for - or even mention - these hidden factors. They only adjust for age, a change that makes the vaccines look better.
(One side note: The researchers also found during Hungary’s spring 2021 Covid wave, the gap in all-cause deaths between vaccinated and unvaccinated people was even larger, a stunning 85 percent.
They attributed the additional death gap they found during the spring epidemic wave to the actual protective effect of Covid shots. This theory may be partially accurate, as jabs did reduce Covid infections and thus deaths briefly after their initial dosing before failing. Unfortunately, the paper was published in June 2022 and the researchers have not repeated their analysis for later Covid waves. The results would be very telling.)
But the researchers also found that the apparent healthy vaccinee effect in summer 2021 varied by type of Covid vaccine. And what they found was not good for the mRNAs, Pfizer in particular.
Moderna and Pfizer had far higher raw death rates in summer 2021 than the other Covid jabs. In fact, they were the only two shots with raw death rates higher than those in unvaccinated people.
Much of this gap occurred because the mRNAs were given to older and sicker people in Hungary. (The researchers note in the paper that wealthier Hungarians preferred the Russian or Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the mRNAs - the reverse of how Americans saw them.)
(Those were the days…)
But after they adjusted for all the risk factors they could find, the scientists found Pfizer’s jab produced an apparently smaller reduction in death rates than the other shots. Pfizer reduced deaths by about 49 percent, while the others reduced deaths by 53 percent or more.
The gap between Pfizer and the Chinese Sinopharm jab - an old-school “inactivated virus” shot - was particularly notable. Pfizer and Sinopharm had very similar demographic profiles in terms of who received them. Sinopharm recipients were actually slightly older.
But people who got Pfizer had a raw death rate almost 25 percent higher than those who took Sinopharm’s over summer 2021. Adjustment for confounders reduced but not eliminate the difference.
Of course, the gap could be a statistical artifact from the same hidden confounders that drive the larger healthy vaccinee effect, but at the least it is another worrisome signal for the mRNA shots.
(IF YOU’VE GOTTEN THIS FAR, YOU REALLY OUGHTA SUBSCRIBE)
Considering how hard physicians and health bureaucracies have for decades pressed voluntary flu vaccinations for adults, it is no surprise that choosing to be vaccinated is strongly associated with more interest in healthcare and better overall health.
Even so, a 55 percent reduction in death that is an entirely fictitious statistical artifact is stunning.
It makes all of the many observational Covid jab studies the CDC has cranked out since 2021 essentially useless, especially the CDC will not release the underlying data. Even worse, the CDC’s studies all have other problems with data collection that the Hungarian paper did not. (Those issues, which I have written about in the past, all further bias the studies in favor of vaccines.)
But the Hungarian paper is crucially important in still another way.
It proves beyond a doubt that health authorities in European and Asian countries with national health insurance systems and immunization registries can easily produce updated all-cause mortality reports that stratify death by Covid vaccine status. They can probably do the same for hospitalizations and even new chronic disease diagnoses, too.
Why won’t they?