More information has come to light about COVID-related pediatric deaths in Rhode Island.
The bad news (other than the fact that children have died, of course) is that it’s difficult to come to decisive answers about such deaths, in part because the way the government has been counting COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths has so muddied the water over the past year. However, the number that has come to light is at the lower end of the two-to-eight range I cited the other day, and COVID is thought to be only incidental, not causative, for all but one of those. In that one case, the results are “undetermined,” not confirmed to be caused or not caused by the coronavirus.
(Note: I’m awaiting responses from both the CDC and the state Dept. of Health and will update this post as justified when responses come in.)
At the center of the matter is the criticism of Andrew Bostom I expressed at the link above, wherein he stated that there have been “ZERO RI pediatric covid-19 deaths” in Rhode Island. I acknowledge that I did miss how conclusively Bostom was insisting that only pediatric deaths involving pneumonia should even count as COVID-19 deaths.
One reason I didn’t completely get what Bostom was arguing is that he uses the broader COVID death numbers for his case that the COVID vaccine is not justified, given the risk of the vaccine versus the risk of the virus. If he thought that only pneumonia-involved COVID deaths were actually COVID deaths, why would he use data that (unless I’m missing something) actually includes the Rhode Island deaths he says don’t count?
Another reason I positioned my argument as I did is that Bostom’s claim just doesn’t seem justified, given the mixed information that we have at this time. Consider this passage from a Q&A published by Harvard Medical School a week ago:
Strokes occur when the brain’s blood supply is interrupted, usually by a blood clot. There have been reports of a greater-than-expected number of younger [COVID] patients being hospitalized for, and sometimes dying from, serious strokes. These strokes are happening in patients who test positive for coronavirus but who do not have any traditional risk factors for stroke. They tend to have no COVID-19 symptoms, or only mild symptoms. The type of stroke occurring in these patients typically occurs in much older patients.
COVID-related strokes occur because of a body-wide increase in blood clot formation, which can damage any organ, not just the brain. A blood clot in the lungs is called pulmonary embolism and can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, or death; a blood clot in or near the heart can cause a heart attack; and blood clots in the kidneys can cause kidney damage requiring dialysis.
This point takes on additional significance when you consider that for Bostom’s case against the vaccine, he lists deaths and life-threatening events that are “plausibly” caused by the vaccine. His list includes things like pulmonary embolism and thrombosis (which is a blood clot). How can he insist that such cases are “plausibly” related to the vaccine for COVID while also insisting categorically that they cannot be related to the virus, itself?
Note that we don’t know whether the inconclusive pediatric death in Rhode Island involved any of these symptoms. However, when he made his claim about “ZERO” pediatric deaths, Bostom didn’t know the circumstances of any of them; he was just insisting that only pneumonia should count.
Note, also, his reaction. As I’ve raised these concerns, his attitude hasn’t been what one would want from a dispassionate analyst; which would be something like: “there are some interesting inconsistencies, here, and we need clarity on the data, but here’s why I think I’m correct.” It hasn’t even been, “I can see how you might think that, but you’re missing this important data.” Rather, here was Bostom’s response earlier today, before he completely blocked me on Twitter:
That sort of name calling brings us right back to my initial suggestion: be careful with Andrew Bostom’s advice on COVID-19 vaccines. I mean, for all his name calling and citation of irrelevant data points, he has yet to address his misleading use of vaccine data out of Israel.
His credentials show that his knowledge of medicine far surpasses mine, but his approach to data and his style of (ahem) debate ought to raise concerns that he’s too invested in the ground he’s staked out to reliably assess the facts. That may be entertaining on a talking-head show, but it’s not a basis for your family’s medical decisions.