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Why it was infeasible for the phase 3 vaccine trials to use "all cause deaths" as the endpoint

I have seen numerous people claim that the placebo-controlled, phase 3 vaccine trials that used symptomatic infections as the primary endpoint should have used "all cause deaths" to demonstrate that the vaccines reduced all-cause deaths relative to placebo. Indeed, preventing deaths is a primary goal of any medical intervention, including vaccines, and in some medical areas like phase 3 randomized cancer trials, all cause death is the primary end point. It would certainly be useful for us to have information on relative rates of all-cause deaths in vaccination and placebo arms from a large, adequately powered randomized trial.

So why were the phase 3 vaccine trials not designed with "all cause deaths" as primary endpoint? Amongst other reasons, it was practically infeasible, requiring a study lasting many years while withholding vaccination from hundreds of thousands of people for all of those years. Here in this post, I'll briefly illustrate this point.

Let's think about designing a randomized trial in the USA to test whether vaccines reduce all-cause deaths relative to placebo.

To be conservative, let's assume we can accrue a study population representative of the entire USA population, with the proportional number of very vulnerable at highest risk of death (This is very conservative because it is likely that any trial population would have had a healthier demographic, since it is not typical to allow the most sick to participate in a clinical trial for a new intervention).

Assuming a background non-COVID death rate of 2.8m per year, the approximate number of annual deaths immediately pre-pandemic, in both the placebo and vaccine arms, that would correspond to 233,333 deaths/month, which with a population of ~330m would result in a death hazard of 0.000707 per month.

Assume that we would like to power the study to detect a significant difference assuming that the vaccines prevent 90% of all COVID-19 deaths, and does not cause any extra toxicity deaths. From June 2020 to June 2021, there were an average of 2.625m confirmed COVID-19 cases per month, which corresponds to a 0.8% case rate. Let's assume this is the rate of COVID-19 cases in the placebo group. If we assume a 0.5% case fatality rate for placebo, this would mean that the hazard of COVID-19 deaths is 0.008 x 0.005 = 0.00004 per month (1/50k) in the placebo arm. With a 90% reduction in COVID-19 deaths, we'd have a hazard of COVID-19 deaths of 0.00005 (1/500k) per month. Thus, the total hazard for all cause deaths in the placebo in this scenario, obtained by summing background deaths and COVID-19 deaths, would be 0.000707+0.00004 = 0.000747 per month

For vaccine, the total hazard for all cause deaths would be 0.000707+0.000004 = 0.000711 per month. This corresponds to a proposed hazard ratio of 0.000711/0.000747=0.952, showing a ~5% reduction in total all cause mortality per month.

Now, the Pfizer and Moderna phase 3 trials accrued about 11k subjects per month. Assume that is the amount we can feasibly recruit for this trial. To have 80% power to detect this level of difference, using a log rank test with 0.05-level two-sided significance level, the study would require 12,978 all cause death events, which would require 48 months to accrue 501,937 subjects (accrued at 10,457/month), and allowing the study to go 60 months before completion.

Thus, this study would take 4 years to accrue and 5 years to complete, and that is only if the pandemic continued with the same community infection rate and case fatality rate throughout the 5 year period. If the pandemic slowed or less lethal variants emerged, this would extend the study even longer, much longer. A study this long during the pandemic would not have been feasible. And this assumes that we are fine with having >250k people remain unvaccinated during the pandemic for 5 years even if the vaccine was showing promise, another infeasibility. If an EUA were given for any vaccine, it would not be medically ethical in the USA to withhold a publicly available vaccine from the trial participants on placebo. It is very difficult to use all cause death as an endpoint in a phase 3 study for any preventative intervention, since only a small and highly uncertain proportion of the population will ever get the disease, and the others do not count towards the efficacy outcome. This is one reason why this endpoint is infeasible for studies of chemoprevention and other preventative interventions in cancer and not used.

It would certainly be a useful study if it could be done, but there is a reason why reduction of infection risk is used as the primary endpoint in vaccine trials, and why we have to rely on post-approval population level studies to assess factors like all-cause deaths.

Fortunately, countries like the UK have publicly shared data on all-cause deaths split out by vaccination status that can be used for such assessments, although as with all observational data, the lack of randomization means we must account for any potential confounding factors to get an accurate estimate of the causal effect of vaccines.

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Sorry but this strikes me as a disingenuous strawman demolition. Alex Berenson is the journalist who highlighted the problems with the RCT's and his key point was hard to miss: They used healthy people at low risk for death by Covid, *lower risk* than the population overall. All they had to do was target the at people at highest risk. In a rational system, people with multiple risk factors and comorbidities that would give them an IFR of say 30% would have been enrolled in RCT's very early on, perhaps April or May 2020. But the regulatory landscape is such even the "warp speed" approach took almost a year and critically, pharma companies need to stack their trials with healthy…

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Completely agree with the Orwellian deja vu. It feels like we gave up on freedom of speech, the scientific method and the enlightenment in the span of 10 years and now we have this bizarre Soviet-style obsession with fighting "misinformation" and destroying scientists and doctors who offer 2nd opinions.

Regarding the original RCT's I'm interested in the overall medical events and deaths not just protection from one variant of Covid. Both were higher in the treatment arms although the studies weren't adequately powered to determine the mortality effect because the people most at risk of covid were excluded from the studies. The justification for this is always stated in the mind numbing framework of an irrational bureaucratic ecosystem with bad…


Easy _S
Easy _S
26 févr. 2022

Hot off the press: "Intracellular Reverse Transcription of Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 In Vitro in Human Liver Cell Line"

Results from this study raise several concerns:

- possibility for genomic toxicity?

- possibility to cause cancers?

- possibility to pass through placenta?

- possibility to integrate in our DNA?

- possibility to cause auto-immune disease?

Once again it becomes clear we don't know enough about these vaccines yet and that they should be considered to be in an experimental phase.

En réponse à

OK, I didn't even focus on the author, just found the science interesting and came across as knowledgeable about biology. For a bunch of ordinary scientists' thoughts, take a look at:


Bulk Shit being sived through CNN...

This is why all cause deaths won't matter... Pharma and the ideologues have already decided that all vaccine related deaths and adverse events are actually COVID-19 deaths a d adverse events.

As long as the gullible believe these flat out lies, the faster our free society will be gutted.

En réponse à

All cause deaths from the Pfizer RCT is statistically significant that it can't be concluded that RNA shots don't prevent death. Right? And how abut for small children? Isn't it even more ridiculous.

I can't think of a single line of logic that would justify the continued movement forward for any organization with ANY political power to spend a single dollar promoting or discussing RNA shots or covid vaccines. Government needs to get out of sales and marketing, and get back to spending 100% of its time, money and other resources on being purely a check on pharma and other companies proposing interventions. That wouldn't be enough to stop the politics, but let's at least start there. NO MORE GOVERNM…

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