Claims Covid-19 vaccines have led to five times more deaths than other vaccines are based on false assumptions

31 January 2022
What was claimed

The UK has recorded five times more deaths “due to” the Covid-19 vaccines than all other vaccines over the past five years

Our verdict

These refer to the number of deaths reported after vaccination though may not have been due to vaccination.

An article on a blog, The Exposé, reports that the UK has recorded five times more deaths “due to” the Covid-19 vaccines than all other vaccines over the past five years.

This is based on real data provided by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on the number of suspected adverse reaction reports received as part of its Yellow Card reporting scheme, which were associated with a fatal outcome.  

However, describing this data as showing the number of deaths “due to” vaccination, a phrase the article uses a number of times, is misleading. This has been a trope of Covid-19 misinformation throughout the vaccine roll out

In a Freedom of Information response to The Exposé, the MHRA said that a death reported after vaccination does not necessarily mean it has been caused by vaccination. It said that when any vaccine is administered in large quantities “some recipients will inevitably experience illness following vaccination”.

It added: “It is also important to note that the number of reports received via the Yellow Card scheme does not directly equate to the number of people who suffer adverse reactions and therefore cannot be used to determine the incidence of a reaction or compare the safety profile of different vaccines.”

With relevance to comparisons between adverse reactions reported after Covid-19 vaccines and other vaccines, the MHRA says: “Reporting tends to be highest for newly introduced medicines during the first one to two years on the market and then falls over time.” 

The MHRA said it received 404 UK spontaneous suspected adverse reaction reports associated with death for non-Covid vaccines between 1 January 2001 and 25 August 2021.

By comparison, up to 19 January 2022, the MHRA has received 1,972 reports of suspected adverse reactions where the patient died shortly after a Covid-19 vaccination among the 52.2 million who had received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine by that point. 

The MHRA has acknowledged a link between vaccination and a rare form of blood clot is likely. This condition has killed 81 people shortly after vaccination. 

The MHRA has also acknowledged higher rates of myocarditis and pericarditis (types of heart inflammation) among people who have been recently vaccinated. Eight fatalities from these conditions have been associated with Covid-19 vaccines.

Image courtesy of Agência Brasília via Wikimedia Commons

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