Macomb County man, 90, dies after COVID-19 vaccine — but doctors say shots are safe from Detroit Free Press
February 20, 2021
Daniel Thayne Simpson, a retired accountant from Chesterfield Township who served in the Navy during the Korean War, got his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 3.
The next day, Simpson, 90, was dead.
“He told my brother he was getting it and he had a sticker showing that he got it,” William Simpson of Ann Arbor told the Free Press. But then, he stopped returning phone calls.
“We were assuming he felt tired or something and went to bed early and never woke up,” William Simpson said. “My brother Dan went over as he often does at 5 in the evening the next day. … He found my father dead.”
Health officials say the vaccines are safe, and individual reports of deaths after a COVID-19 immunization must be considered in the context of several factors, including the overall death rate among people who’ve gotten the vaccines compared with the overall death rate of the unvaccinated population.
But Daniel Thayne Simpson’s sudden death and the news Wednesday that longtime Detroit TV anchor Karen Hudson Samuels also died the day after she got a COVID-19 vaccine have stoked concerns about vaccine safety.
Samuels’ husband told the Free Press that her Feb. 9 death was due to a stroke and there’s no way to confirm whether the vaccine had any role.
Simpson’s death is among 27 in Michigan submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System.
Operated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, VAERS allows anyone — a patient, a doctor or nurse, friend or relative — to report any kind of post-vaccine medical problem, from a sore arm to sudden death. The reports are not substantiated or proved to be linked to the vaccines, but they are monitored and investigated as health officials watch for anything that might signal a safety concern.
“These vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history,” Sutfin said.
Dr. David Gorski, a professor of surgery at Wayne State University School of Medicine who has written extensively on vaccine safety as managing editor of Science-Based Medicine, explained why some deaths following COVID-19 shots are to be expected.
“When you roll out a mass vaccination program on this scale, which is pretty much unprecedented now, by the law of large numbers there are going to be quite a few reports of people who die or have something bad happen to them after getting vaccinated just by random chance alone,” Gorski said.
“And it takes careful investigation and epidemiology — basic science — to determine if there is a safety signal or if there is an actual adverse event, or if this adverse event is happening at a higher rate than we would expect, than the baseline rate. … The baseline death rate of 90-year-olds is high because they’re 90 years old.”
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