A post shared to a Facebook group appears to suggest that reports of deaths due to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) are a cover up for a “genocide” caused by the Covid-19 vaccines, saying: “Sudden Adult Death Syndrome sounds better than genocide”.
While this post doesn’t directly refer to the Covid-19 vaccines, it was posted to a Facebook page called “Covid 19 Adverse Reactions Group”, which is described as a place for people to share “possible adverse reactions you may have had due to having the Vaccine”.
We’ve written about a number of similar claims in the past as part of our work fact checking online misinformation, many of which suggest that SADS is linked to receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
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What is SADS?
SADS is used to describe deaths from cardiac arrest where the cause cannot be determined. It is sometimes also called Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome.
The British Heart Foundation says: “The rhythm of your heart (which controls your heartbeat) is controlled by electrical impulses. If the electrical impulses go wrong, it can cause an abnormal heart rhythm known as an arrhythmia.
“Some arrhythmias can be dangerous if they’re left untreated, they can cause a cardiac arrest. Your heart’s rhythm and electrical impulses are no longer there after death, this means an abnormal heart rhythm can’t be found and the heart’s structure will appear normal. This is why the cause of the cardiac arrest can’t be found and SADS might be diagnosed.”
SADS is believed to be the result of a range of rare genetic conditions that make individuals more likely to suffer cardiac arrests. The condition is most common in those under the age of 40, including children, and can affect people who have had no prior symptoms and have previously been fit and healthy.
SADS and Covid-19 vaccines
There is no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccines are causing people to die of SADS, nor is there evidence that deaths due to the Covid-19 vaccine are being misreported as SADS as part of a cover up for a “genocide” caused by the vaccines, as this post would appear to imply.
SADS isn’t new. Awareness of SADS predates Covid-19 and the Covid-19 vaccines by several decades, and deaths from SADS— like all causes of death— are recorded on death certificates with a specific code from the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), meaning we can identify how many SADS deaths are recorded in any given year.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), “deaths where "Sudden Adult Death Syndrome" or "Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome" are mentioned on the death certificate are recorded with an ICD-10 code of R96 or I49.9 respectively.”
In England and Wales in 2021, these codes were listed as the underlying cause of 99 and 176 deaths respectively. By comparison, in England and Wales in 2020, these codes were listed as the underlying cause in 95 and 197 deaths respectively.
We can therefore see that in England and Wales, during the first year of the vaccine rollout the total number of deaths recorded as due to SADS was actually slightly lower than in the previous year.
Between March 2020 and August 2022, there have been 51 deaths recorded as involving the Covid-19 vaccines in England and Wales, 45 of which had the Covid-19 vaccines listed as the underlying cause.
A small number of cases of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation) have been linked to the Covid-19 vaccine. In most cases symptoms have been mild, however the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency says 13 suspected cases of myocarditis or pericarditis with a fatal outcome have been reported following the vaccines as of 28 September. It also notes: “The majority of reports with a fatal outcome describe underlying illnesses in these patients that could provide alternative explanations for the events reported.”
The British Heart Foundation says that studies looking at myocarditis and pericarditis cases following Covid-19 vaccination “have not found any increased risk of death or cardiac arrest, compared with being unvaccinated”, and says “there is no evidence that people are at risk of cardiac arrest in the days or weeks following the vaccine.”
The British Heart Foundation says Covid-19 vaccines are safe for people with heart conditions and notes: “No vaccine is approved unless it is considered safe for people with long-term conditions, including heart and circulatory conditions, and including older people.”
Image courtesy of Spencer Davis