A: A doctor in Florida named Gregory Michael recently died from a hemorrhagic stroke related to extremely low platelets two weeks after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Whether his death is linked to the vaccine or not–which is under investigation by appropriate safety monitoring systems–doesn’t change the fact that the vaccines are proving to be exceptionally safe and effective. We are grieving with Dr. Michael’s family this week, and we also grieve with the families of the 33 people in Florida who died of COVID-19 that same day and the families of hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed by COVID-19 in the US & elsewhere.
Yes, this story is scary. Let’s acknowledge that upfront. A personal story like the one circulating on social media attributed to Dr. Michael’s wife can hit us right in the gut in a way that numbers simply cannot. Dr. Gregory Michael, seemingly healthy and 54 years old, passed suddenly of an unexplained illness two weeks after getting the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Evolution has wired our brains to find patterns, and this pattern seems obvious. Does this mean that the vaccine killed Dr. Michael?
We don’t know yet. However, we know that the safety monitoring system for vaccines has been activated, and Pfizer and the FDA are investigating his death for any possible connection. We expect to learn whether there was a connection, and we’re gratified to see that his death is being investigated and the safety monitoring systems working.
If it turns out that there WAS a connection between his receiving the vaccine and his death, that’s a tragic loss of a valuable life. We will not discount that.
It would also be the first known death in over 10 million doses given in the United States to date. Compare 1 in 10,000,000 to about 1 in 59 deaths in people who get symptomatic COVID-19 infection.
*All* therapies involve risk and benefit tradeoffs. COVID-19 vaccines so far have proven to be exceptionally safe, and COVID-19 continues to be exceptionally dangerous. Even if the FDA concludes that Dr. Michael’s death was really caused by his receiving the vaccine, it would be an extremely rare outcome. It would be much *much* more rare than death from COVID-19 itself–or even a bizarre tragedy like a train accident or shark attack.
Now, what if the federal authorities find there was no connection? What to make of that? Well, unfortunately, bad things happen to people all the time. People will get sick and even die of all sorts of things following their COVID vaccine, just like they always do. The COVID-19 vaccine, sadly, can’t prevent cancer. It can’t prevent heart attacks. It can’t even prevent influenza.
Sudden deaths from a hemorrhagic stroke can be caused by cancer, some other prescription drugs, viruses, genetic conditions, autoimmune disease and extreme anemia–and might not be related to the vaccine at all, despite the coincident timing. So, unfortunately, we expect some stories like his. There will likely even be more of them.
Meanwhile, we are grieving with the family of Dr. Michael, as with the families of 33 people who died of COVID in Florida on the same day. And we grieve with the families of over 376,000 Americans who have been killed of COVID so far, and hundreds of thousands more worldwide. And we are grieving with the communities who are struggling through some of the most difficult emotional, financial, and social times in memory.
Dr. Michael’s story matters, and so does the story of every other person.
#DrMichael #Vaccines #Pfizer #GregoryMichael #Nerds #Denominators
File under: vaccines, misinformation