Fear-based reporting a public-health issue

A recent article from CNN caught my eye. It concerned the news that about 100 people who received the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccination later came down with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Mathematically, that comes out to 0.0008% of that group. That is eight ten-thousandths of 1%. CNN followed that statement with the statement, “It’s not clear whether those cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome resulted from the vaccine.” CNN is not alone in reporting this news this way. It’s got everybody on social media up in arms, too.

The problem? CNN goes on to report that 3,000 to 6,000 people develop Guillain-Barré (out of our population of 330 million) which is (wait for it) … 0.0009% to 0.0018%. Rather than stating that it’s “unclear” whether the J&J vaccine is responsible, CNN, and the rest of the mainstream media world should have stated the truth, which is that the incidence of GBS for those who have had the J&J vaccine is the same as (or actually lower than) the incidence of GBS for the general population over the same period.

We had the same reporting issues with the clotting concerns over the J&J vaccine. In the U.S., three instances per 1 million J&J doses, or 0.0003%, developed clotting issues. In the general population, it is normal every year for 300,000 cases of deep vein thrombosis to occur, for a percentage of 0.009%, 30 times higher. The tiny fraction of J&J thrombosis issues gets lost in the vast numbers that occur regularly without any vaccines to blame.

Mainstream media needs to do a better job. Everyday people simply see the headline and don’t usually take the time figure out the math. It’s irresponsible reporting at best, and deceptive headlining at the worst. The result is people fearing the vaccine (or using this reporting as an excuse) and refusing the vaccine. A bunch of them are going to pay for it with their lives.

Bob Shettel