Beaverhead County Coroner demands vaccine death data

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Beaverhead County’s coroner is demanding all deaths in Beaverhead County be considered for investigation, in case they may have been caused by the coronavirus vaccines.

Coroner Julie Briggs issued the demand effective April 21, directing it to the county’s deputy coroners (which include Sheriff Paul Craft). Non-compliance is to be considered “hindering an investigation that the coroner’s office may need to take to safeguard our community,” Briggs stated in a press release.

“It is my hope that by gathering and evaluating information, that those that have lost their lives during this treacherous time will not have died in vain,” she stated in the release.

Briggs aired her concerns about COVID vaccines and county deaths with the Beaverhead County Commissioners April 19.

“Beaverhead County has recorded a sporadic number of deaths related to COVID-19. Other ‘causes of death’ was extremely high this last year and was brought to the attention of the health board. This information was not discussed or evaluated. This being the fact, I find it disturbing that the health board’s decision to encourage widespread use of an experimental product was not discussed or vetted by the Beaverhead County-City Health Board with an opportunity for discussion,” Briggs said.

Briggs said she had heard from other coroners they feared government agencies are not tracking the deaths from the vaccines, and that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) most recent mortality data was issued in 2018.

“Time is what concerns me. There hasn’t been any data on the long term effects (from the vaccines). I hear the companies are pushing to get them off experimental status. How can they be doing that without any data,” she asked.

Preliminary data does not link deaths to vaccines

The CDC’s 2020 provisional mortality data report was issued March 31. The data is provisional because it takes time to review data from death certificates and investigate causes of death, according to the CDC website.

The CDC and FDA scientists are tracking deaths following a COVID vaccination. According to the CDC website, “to date, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has not detected patterns in cause of death that would indicate a safety problem with COVID-19 vaccines.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires vaccination providers to report deaths after a COVID-19 vaccination to this reporting system. The CDC follows up on those reports.

“Over 211 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from Dec. 14, 2020, through April 19, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 3,486 reports of death (0.0016%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. CDC and FDA physicians review each case report of death as soon as notified and CDC requests medical records to further assess reports. A review of available clinical information including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records revealed no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths,” the CDC website stated.

COVID-19 is listed as the third leading cause of death in 2020, with 345,000 deaths, behind heart disease (690,000) and cancer (590,000), according to the provisional report. Final data is generally released 11 months after the end of the data year, according to the CDC website.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2020. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine received its EUA in February.

An EUA allows unapproved medical products for use in a public health emergency, to treat or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions when certain criteria are met. That includes when there are no adequate, approved and available alternatives, according to the FDA. All three vaccines completed clinical trials with “tens of thousands of study participants” to generate scientific data for evaluation. Clinical trials continue as the manufacturers seek full vaccine approval from the FDA.

New committee sought

Briggs said she wanted the commissioners to set up a separate committee to review and track death data, check publications for accuracy, inform the community of their findings, and ensure county websites use proper wording when discussing the vaccines. She added she believed the vaccines should not be advertised as “safe” or “effective,” since they have not yet finished their clinical trials for formal approval from the FDA.

“My concern is we need a committee to oversee the whole operation,” she said. “The health department is not concerned about death – that’s my jurisdiction. I feel as if I’m not being notified as the county coroner regarding deaths.

“This isn’t something I can do myself,” she added. Commissioner Tom Rice, also the chairman of the health board, asked how the committee would be organized, and what credentials would be needed by those who would serve on it.

Commissioner and Chairman John Jackson wondered how helpful having a county-specific committee would be for determining trends.

“This sounds like a nationwide problem to me – so we’re going to start to fix this in Beaverhead County?” Jackson said. “All I can say is we’ll look into it, and if you’ve got any ideas, we’ll listen.”