Yellow Card data isn't proof of Covid-19 vaccine deaths

4 August 2021
What was claimed

There have been 1,517 deaths and 1,102,228 adverse reactions caused by the Covid-19 vaccines.

Our verdict

These figures relate to Yellow Card reports. This is a mechanism to allow individuals to report any suspected reactions or side effects even if the reporter isn’t sure that it was caused by the vaccine. The MHRA says “It is very important to note that a Yellow Card report does not necessarily mean the vaccine caused that reaction or event”.

A widely shared Facebook post contains an image featuring the logos of gov.uk and the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) Yellow Card reporting scheme. The graphic says “1517 deaths 1,102,228 adverse reactions”, and asks “why is this not being reported on the BBC and the injections stopped?”

The Yellow Card scheme is a mechanism to allow individuals and health professionals to report any suspected reactions or side effects even if the reporter isn’t sure that it was caused by the vaccine.

The most recent report of Yellow Card data, published on 30 July, includes data up to 21 July. This showed that there had been 1,517 yellow card reports of death around the time of Covid-19 vaccination. There had also been 331,240 Yellow Card reports for the vaccines, detailing 1,102,228 suspected reactions (a single report may contain more than one symptom).

The MHRA states that “It is very important to note that a Yellow Card report does not necessarily mean the vaccine caused that reaction or event”. It says that “Many suspected ADRs reported on a Yellow Card do not have any relation to the vaccine or medicine and it is often coincidental that they both occurred around the same time”. The MHRA also says that it is important that “suspected ADRs described in this report are not interpreted as being proven side effects of COVID-19 vaccines”. 

On 7 April 2021, the MHRA issued a statement advising on a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a very rare and specific type of blood clot seen in the context of low platelets. As a precaution, because of the balance of risks from Covid-19 for young people, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised that people under the age of 40 in the UK should be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine. In addition, people of any age who are at an increased risk of blood clots should have an individualised risk assessment. 

We have written about the MHRA yellow card scheme figures many times before

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 missing context because Yellow Card reports are suspected reactions or events. This does not mean that the vaccine is necessarily the cause.

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