The Covid vaccines are not ‘poison’

1 November 2023
What was claimed

The Covid-19 vaccines are poisons, which commonly produce serious health problems.

Our verdict

This is not true. The Covid vaccines are beneficial for most people and only rarely have serious side effects.

A Facebook post shared hundreds of times falsely claims that the Covid-19 vaccines are all poisonous.

The post shares a video of an Australian news report about a man seeking compensation after suffering medical problems that he says were caused by the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine. We have not assessed any claims in this video.

However, in a caption, the Facebook post says: “(All the convid jabs are poison ☠ and this is a common reaction to the poisoning)”.

The Covid vaccines do often cause mild side effects, such as a sore arm or short-lived flu-like symptoms. However, it is not true to say that serious medical problems are a “common” reaction to them. Serious reactions do sometimes occur, but only rarely.

Nor is it true to say that the vaccines are “poison”, since there is abundant evidence that they are generally safe.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says: “For a medicine to be considered safe, the expected benefits of the medicine will be greater than the risk of suffering harmful reactions.” In the case of the Covid vaccines, the MHRA says: “the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks in the majority of people”.

People’s health can be seriously harmed if they make decisions based on bad information about medicines and other treatments. We have written about Covid and other vaccine misinformation many times before.

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Risks and benefits of the Covid vaccines

At the time of writing, the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that 56 people in England and Wales died due to “COVID-19 vaccines causing adverse effects in therapeutic use” up to the end of July 2023, with a further eight deaths “involving” the vaccines, but where they were not the underlying cause. These figures may rise in future.

However, these deaths occurred in a population that has received more than 150 million doses of the Covid vaccine.

The MHRA has published its assessment of some possible serious safety issues in relation to the vaccines. These have included extremely rare cases of blood clots after people received the AstraZeneca vaccine and very rare cases of myocarditis or pericarditis (inflammation in and around the heart muscle) after the other vaccines.

Overall, however, it still considers them beneficial for most people.

Indeed research about England by the UK Health Security Agency published in February 2022 says: “Estimates suggest that 127,500 deaths and 24,144,000 infections have been prevented as a result of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, up to 24 September [2021].”

Image courtesy of CDC

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