Question asked by Adrien on June 25, 2022.
You are asking us about an article that was published on the website of the on the morning of June 25th Free lunchwhose title was: “Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca: Anti-Covid Vaccines Increase Cardiovascular Risks in Young People.” This has been widely shared on social networks, especially by Florian Philippot, Francois Asselineau, Nicolas Dupont AignanWhere Laurent Mucchielli.
The article in question – since amended – says so “The Covid vaccines Moderna, Pfizer and Astra Zeneca are all said to have negative effects on cardiovascular health‘, refers to three “Studies published in prestigious Anglo-Saxon scientific journals between April and June 2022”. And to suggest the reader to do so “The point about that [que ces publications] underline”to know “the interest in vaccines”but also “its potentially deleterious effects on the cardiovascular health of patients”.
Problem: In each of the studies cited, the presentation was flawed or obscured an element of context essential to their understanding.
A clam… that multiplies myocarditis risk by 1,000
The first publication cited was a retrospective study published on June 11 on the lancet, with just over 15 million vaccinated. She observes that the rate of myocarditis and pericarditis is higher than expected in the study population, particularly in males aged 18 to 25 within a week of a second dose of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Free lunch correctly said that according to the article of lancetthe frequency of these pathologies “was rare”. And to specify that “411 myocarditis or pericarditis were detected in the more than 15,000 people between 18 and 64 years observed by scientists”. Here the error is typographical (fifteen thousand instead of fifteen million), since the text suggests events a thousand times more frequent than they really are. Netizens were quick to spread the claim that the risk of myocarditis was high after a second dose of the mRNA vaccine “by 2.7%” (411/15,000). After this blunder was widely reported, it was corrected by Free lunch Saturday afternoon after numerous reports.
The typo appears all the more obvious as the article, when published, correctly reflected the author’s point of view, according to whom “The study results and the benefit-risk ratio continue to support vaccination with one of the two messenger RNA vaccines.”.
A study that the editor himself urges to be treated with caution
This is what Midi Libre reports in a study published at the end of April Scientific Reportsshown as “one of the most important Open Access journals in the world”. Study that, explains the daily newspaper, reports “[d’]an increase in the number of calls by more than 25% [pour une aide médicale d’urgence] in 16- to 39-year-olds because of cardiac arrest or acute coronary syndrome during the use of the anti-Covid vaccination in Israel”citing similar results in Germany and Scotland. Free lunch precise “[qu’]On the other hand, no connection has been established between these cardiovascular problems and Covid infections.”
However, the regional daily omits an important detail and emphasizes the study in the form of a “Editor’s Note” : “Readers are cautioned that the findings of this article are subject to criticism, which is currently being reviewed by the editors. An editorial response will follow once all parties have had an opportunity to comment fully.” In fact, many voices have been raised regarding the interpretation of the reported data. For example, observers note that the number of calls for cardiac arrest during the vaccination campaign is no different from that observed in the same period of the year before the Covid crisis, only from 2020 when they were abnormally low. “At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, emergency call centers asked the population to limit the use of these platforms in order to be able to better care for patients with severe Covid-19 signs,” Observe the authors of a critical analysis pre-published on the OSF platform. The same authors point out that without recording the callers’ vaccination status or further describing the symptoms, no conclusions can be drawn. Problems with statistical analysis were also identified.
Doubtful results…according to the authors themselves
The third study cited by Free lunch was published in the journal JAMA Network Open. For the regional daily newspaper, an increase in the number of “hospital contacts” (consultation, etc.) “due to coagulation disorders and cerebrovascular diseases, especially in thrombocytopenia and cerebral vein thrombosis, after vaccination by Moderna, Pfizer and especially Astra Zeneca”. On Twitter, a user notes that the study does not observe the connection with venous thrombosis in Moderna and Pfizer. However, a superficial reading of the study could also indicate that the authors conclude that there is a connection between vaccination and the other pathologies mentioned. However, to ensure the robustness of their conclusions, the authors performed “sensitivity analyses”, which allow assessing whether or not minor differences in the retained analysis criteria (or in the original data set) lead to similar results. For example, one might expect the results to be similar when considering all hospital stays or focusing on those longer than one day. Conversely, the fact that this is not the case raises questions about the strength of the connection.
After five separate sensitivity analyses, the results obtained for AstraZeneca’s vaccine are considered robust – confirming the existing warnings for this vaccine. However, these analyzes are not required for messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna “were not consistent”you write. “Therefore, the risk increases overall and combined [identifiés] after vaccination with [ces deux vaccins] should be interpreted with caution.” According to them, an analysis should confirm this “by other methods” the results obtained for these two vaccines seem “justified” to them. An important precision that the article of completely lacks Free lunch.
“The most read article of the week”
After several warnings from netizens, the title of the day’s article was changed to the caveat on Saturday afternoon. As a result, the article remained unchanged as of 3:56 p.m. Monday. The version that is currently online is being extensively revised and made more precise “[qu’]Due to inaccurate and incomplete information, this article was modified on Monday, June 27th. We apologize to our readers.”
Asked by CheckNewsthe newspaper’s digital department assistant and the author of the article return to the chronology of events that led to the publication of this text and the current delay until this last update. “The theme was suggested Friday afternoon, drafted Friday evening and scheduled for Saturday morning.”explain our interlocutors. “Typically, the articles are proofread by the department heads on the water. When written by more experienced journalists, online articles are sometimes proofread after the fact, and the changes made to them are generally minor.. In this particular case, however “There was no proofreading and the article escaped the vigilance of the person in charge then present at the newspaper”notes the assistant at the digital pole Free lunchherself “be away for the weekend”.
If two minimum corrections were made to the article on Saturday (the correction of the erroneous number and the conditionalization of the title), the article “Needed a thorough overhaul”She explains. “There was no point in deleting the article as it has already been shared a lot and many screenshots have been taken. We prefer that site visitors can read that the article has been published incomplete and present the update to them. As soon as the author of the article returned to the newspaper’s editorial office on Monday afternoon, he set about completing the text and providing details on each of the studies cited.
The author, who informs us that he has no training in science journalism, concedes “that such a subject could have been dealt with with much more time and rigor”. This is stated by the deputy head of the pole “On Covid issues we usually have a journalist more specialized in those issues and our articles usually take the time to provide the elements that allow us to take stock. Here we plead error because the published text was clearly incomplete.”
She herself complains that because of the weekend “The article had a very long exposure time”although “The Antivaxers pounce on the slightest injury to make their butter”. In fact, she statesthis is the most read article of the week… The updated version will probably not be shared as much, but we will share it on social media and make it clear that the original version was incomplete.”