A number of posts on Instagram and Facebook have claimed that the Covid-19 vaccine is causing more deaths per day than Covid-19 in the UK.
The image falsely claims that there have been 1,102 “vaccine deaths”. That figure actually relates to how many people died following a Covid-19 vaccine, not necessarily because of it. Considering that 36 million people have had their first dose, that’s how many we would have expected to die from other causes in that time. There is no proof that those deaths were caused by the vaccine.
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There have not been 1,102 ‘vaccine deaths’
This is the number of people who had died shortly after vaccination up to 28 April 2021. The Medicines Healthcare products and Regulations Authority (MHRA) says that the “majority of these reports were in much older people or people with underlying illness.” As we’ve said, these deaths are not necessarily linked to the vaccine. Because so many people are being vaccinated, and they are being monitored so closely afterwards, by chance some people will report new illnesses, or will die in the days or weeks after they are vaccinated.
The MHRA says: “A high proportion of people vaccinated early in the vaccination campaign were very elderly, and/or had pre-existing medical conditions. Older age and chronic underlying illnesses make it more likely that coincidental adverse events will occur, especially given the millions of people vaccinated.
“It is therefore important that we carefully review these reports to distinguish possible side effects from illness that would have occurred irrespective of vaccination.”
That said, it’s thought that there may be a possible link between some fatal cases of extremely rare blood clots along with low platelets that have been seen in people getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. This is why people under 40 are being advised to get an alternative.
Back to that figure. As of 28 April, there had been a total of 1,102 Yellow Card reports (which allows anyone to report a health problem they’ve had after receiving a vaccine or taking a medicine to the MHRA) where the patient died “shortly after” vaccination. That was out of a total 34 million who had received a first dose of a Covid vaccine and 14 million who’d had their second in the UK at that time.
If you divide 1,102 by the number of days since people first started to get vaccinated, on 8 December, it works out as about eight per day. (At the time of writing the most up-to-date figure as of 5 May 2021 was 1,143 deaths, which is still about eight a day.)
The government says that based on data taken from ONS death registrations, “several thousand” deaths are expected to have occurred naturally within a week of receiving the vaccine simply due to the fact many millions of doses have been administered, mostly in the elderly.
This by no means indicates that the vaccine caused these deaths.
The daily Covid-19 death toll did drop to five in May
The post also shows a screenshot of the government’s coronavirus dashboard, showing that the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test in the UK was five, and the total was 127,603. The data has slightly updated now, but we can see that between 6 May and 10 May 2021, daily deaths were in the single digits.
This figure (deaths within 28 days of a positive test) could include some people who died for other reasons besides Covid-19, but it also misses people who die of it more than 28 days after first testing positive.
We took a stand for good information.
After we published this fact check, we contacted the MHRA to suggest that their warning, that a report of suspected adverse drug reaction does not necessarily mean the vaccine caused that effect, needed to be more prominent on their website.
In response, the MHRA took action by including a warning about what a Yellow Card report means at the top of each analysis print, as well as putting it higher up in their weekly report.
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