False US military health data misrepresented as NHS figures

8 February 2022
What was claimed

Incidences of heart attacks, Bell’s palsy, congenital malformations, female infertility, pulmonary embolisms, neurological abnormalities and cancers have increased dramatically, according to NHS data.

Our verdict

The figures published in the social media post are based on false US military data, not NHS data.

A post on Instagram claims that incidences of health conditions such as female infertility, neurological abnormalities and cancers have dramatically increased, citing figures claimed to have come from the NHS. 

It’s not clear what time period the post covers, but the inclusion of conditions such as Bell's palsy and myocardial infarction (a heart attack) mirrors other posts we’ve fact checked before making claims about links between these conditions and the Covid-19 vaccine roll out.  

There’s no evidence that any of the figures stated in the post are accurate, and we could find no trace of the statistics being published by the NHS.

A search for these statistics online show that they have also been shared on Twitter, with links to an article on an American website headlined: “Whistleblowers share DOD [Department of Defense] medical data that blows vaccine safety debate wide open”. 

This article, which claims that US military personnel have seen a huge rise in a number of health conditions and explicitly ties these to Covid-19 vaccines, contains the exact figures listed in the Instagram post. It’s extremely likely that this article, or similar reporting, is in fact the data source in question—not the NHS. 

It has since been reported by fact checkers PolitiFact that these figures, extracted from the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED), were a result of a glitch in the database. 

The data had been cited by an Ohio lawyer, representing three “whistleblowers” during a panel discussion on Covid-19 vaccines on 24 January. 

Peter Graves, spokesperson for the Defense Health Agency’s Armed Forces Surveillance Division, told PolitiFact that "in response to concerns mentioned in news reports" the division reviewed data in the DMED "and found that the data was incorrect for the years 2016-2020."

The error in the data was the result of the correct 2021 figures on the incidence of health conditions being compared to an inaccurate five-year average, which “represented only a small fraction of actual medical diagnoses” and so gave the false impression of a significant  increase in 2021. 

Mr Graves told Politifact that the DMED system had been taken offline to “identify and correct the root-cause of the data corruption."

Photo courtesy of Guido Hoffmann, via Unsplash. 

Full Fact fights bad information

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