US military deaths didn’t increase by 1,100% last year

25 March 2022
What was claimed

Deaths among US military personnel rose by 1,100% in 2021.

Our verdict

This is based on inaccurate data, which has now been withdrawn.

A TikTok clip posted to Instagram falsely claims that official data shows the number of deaths among US military personnel rose by 1,100% in the first 10 months in 2021. 

While the people in the clip, which features US right-wing pastor Rick Wiles and appears to be taken from his website TruNews, do not directly refer to Covid-19 vaccines, text embedded in the video states: “Admitted - HIV protein added to shot”. 

US military deaths didn’t rise by 1,100%

The claim of a huge spike in deaths among US military personnel in 2021 emerged in January 2022, when data published via the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED) was cited by an Ohio lawyer representing three “whistleblowers” at a panel discussion on Covid-19 vaccines.

The DMED is a publicly-accessible resource containing both current and historical data on diseases and medical events experienced by members of the US military.

After it emerged that the data for 2021 showed an alarming increase in deaths and incidences of medical conditions such as cancer, Peter Graves, spokesperson for the Defense Health Agency’s Armed Forces Surveillance Division, told US fact checkers PolitiFact that the division had reviewed data in the DMED "and found that the data was incorrect for the years 2016-2020”. 

He added that the database system had been taken offline to “identify and correct the root-cause of the data corruption”.

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 for 2016-2020, which “represented only a small fraction of actual medical diagnoses” and so gave the false impression of a significant increase in 2021. 

This inaccuracy has been highlighted by at least one outlet which originally reported on the apparent spike in illnesses and deaths in 2021. 

We have written about this data being used to make inaccurate claims about vaccine risks twice before

HIV protein has not been added to Covid-19 vaccine

While not directly addressed by the speakers in the video, the embedded text on the TikTok clip states: “Admitted - HIV protein added to shot [vaccine]”. 

There is no HIV protein in the vaccines currently in use.

This falsehood may be linked to the fact that a prospective Covid-19 vaccine developed in Australia had used a small piece of protein from the HIV virus in order to induce a stronger immune response.This vaccine candidate was abandoned after an early trial stage in which some participants returned false HIV positive results. 

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 the claim is based on inaccurate data which has been withdrawn.

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