Article vastly exaggerates number of Covid-19 vaccine deaths

20 June 2022
What was claimed

Throughout Europe, the USA, the UK and Australia, medicine regulators have received reports of 77,068 deaths due to Covid-19 vaccination.

Our verdict

Incorrect. These are reports of deaths following vaccination, not necessarily because of it. Regulators for all four regions warn users not to misinterpret their data in this way.

An article in the Exposé—a regular source of misinformation during the pandemic—falsely claims that thousands of people have died as a result of the Covid-19 vaccinations. The article has also been shared on Facebook.

On the contrary, we have good evidence that the Covid vaccines have saved many thousands of lives.

Why the article is wrong

The article adds up the number of reports of ill health and death following vaccination from public data in the UK, the US, Australia and the EU. It then claims: “This means that throughout Europe, the USA, the UK and Australia, medicine regulators have received reports of 7,338,772 injuries and 77,068 deaths due to Covid-19 vaccination.”

This is not true.

The error in the article is something we have seen many times before—in the Exposé and elsewhere. Reported events following vaccination do not show how many people have died “due to” the vaccines.

The data comes from adverse event reporting systems, which collect reports of ill health following vaccination in order to provide an early warning of any patterns that might emerge.

These reports do not mean that the vaccine itself was the cause of someone’s ill health. In many cases, especially when many elderly and seriously ill people are being vaccinated at the same time, the adverse event may have occurred coincidentally.

In the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has noted a small number of possible and rare links between Covid vaccination and serious illness or death, but says that overall, the benefits of the vaccines “far outweigh any currently known side effects in the majority of patients”.

All four of the Exposé’s data sources include warnings that they do not show events caused by the vaccines, none of which are mentioned in the Exposé article.

  • In the UK, the MHRA says: “A report of a suspected ADR to the Yellow Card scheme does not necessarily mean that it was caused by the vaccine, only that the reporter has a suspicion it may have.”
  • In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says: “VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness.”
  • In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Association says: “An adverse event report does not mean that the medicine is the cause of the adverse event.”
  • In the EU, the European Medicines Agency says: “​​Information on suspected side effects should not be interpreted as meaning that the medicine or the active substance causes the observed effect or is unsafe to use.”

How many deaths have the vaccines caused?

The UK does report data on the number of deaths that were due to the Covid vaccines. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 27 of these deaths in England and none in Wales registered up to the end of April 2022. There were a further nine in Scotland up to the end of May 2022, according to the National Records of Scotland. And another one in Northern Ireland up to the end of March 2022, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. It is possible that the UK total may rise, if there’s been a delay in registering some deaths due to the vaccines. 

The MHRA has recorded 81 deaths from a type of blood clot that it has said may be linked with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but we can’t say how many of these were caused by the vaccine. Death certificates are the best source of data on deaths by cause.

In contrast, by April 2022, more than 140 million doses of the Covid vaccines had been administered in the UK.

The UK Health Security Agency estimated that the vaccination programme prevented more than 90,000 deaths in England alone, up to mid-August 2021.

Image courtesy of Braňo

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because these deaths and health events were not necessarily caused by the vaccines.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.