MATT THOMSON AGAINST STUFF
Case Number: 3117
Council Meeting: SEPTEMBER 2021
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Ruling Categories: Accuracy
CASE NO: 3117
RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF MATT THOMSON AGAINST STUFF
FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED
DATE: SEPTEMBER 2021
Matt Thomson complained about a video The Whole Truth published by Stuff. The video explained that the Pfizer vaccine, like all medicines, could cause side effects. Most side effects were mild, and really serious reactions, such as allergic reactions, were extremely rare. The video also said that the vaccine was 95 percent effective.
Mr Thomson said the video did not mention the hundreds of severe adverse reactions lodged by medical professionals with Medsafe, as well as 40 deaths. Saying that the vaccine was 95 per cent effective was also a falsehood, Mr Thomson said. “The relative risk reduction (RRR) is 95 per cent, which means to reduce symptoms in one patient, you have to vaccinate 119.”
In his complaint, Mr Thomson referenced the Medsafe report on adverse events from 7 August. The Media Council has read this report and it does not back up Mr Thomson’s claim of 40 deaths caused by the vaccine. The report did record 385 reports of serious events but as this was in the context of over 2 million doses delivered at that time, it was reasonable for the Stuff video to say really serious reactions were extremely rare.
On the 95 per cent efficacy complaint, the Media Council notes that this reflects the figure the Ministry of Health uses. The ministry’s website says: “Studies have shown that about 95% of people who received both doses of the vaccine were protected against getting seriously ill.”
Mr Thomson has not shown that there were any errors of fact in the video.
Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.