Piers Corbyn makes misleading claims about vaccine deaths

4 June 2021
What was claimed

Covid-19 vaccines have caused 859,481 adverse reactions.

Our verdict

Slightly fewer adverse reactions have been reported but it doesn’t mean they have been caused by the vaccine. The vast majority are normal and clear up within a few days.

What was claimed

Covid-19 vaccines have caused 1,213 deaths.

Our verdict

False. This is the number of deaths within seven days of vaccination reported through the Yellow Card scheme, but this does not mean the vaccines caused these deaths.

A Facebook post by Piers Corbyn claims that a Channel 4 documentary “The Anti-Vax Conspiracy” failed to highlight deaths from and adverse reactions to Covid-19 vaccines in the UK. But some of the points he makes are not accurate. 

“There was no investigation into the fact that between 9/12/20 to 19/5/21 there were 1,213 deaths and 859,481 adverse reactions from the Covid Injections (as reported in the Government Yellow Card scheme) and that people are now more likely to die from the Covid Injections than any Covid flu. Why this wasn't addressed is very telling about the filmmakers biases.”

The Yellow Card scheme is “the UK system for collecting and monitoring information on safety concerns such as suspected side effects or adverse incidents involving medicines and medical devices.”

It relies on voluntary reporting from medics and members of the public, and is intended to provide an early warning of any previously unknown risks.

Using the latest statistics when the statement was posted, there were 246,970 adverse reaction reports made to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), among which there were 857,323 suspected reactions (a single report may contain more than one symptom). 

However, as we have stated before, while the Yellow Card scheme records reported adverse reactions following vaccination, it does not mean the vaccines are necessarily the cause of  these reactions. 

While the MHRA monitors the effects of the vaccines, it has noted the number and nature of Yellow Card reports is “not unusual for a new vaccine for which members of the public and healthcare professionals are encouraged to report any suspected adverse reaction.”

The MHRA notes that the “overwhelming majority” of these reports are of injection site reactions that are “not associated with more serious or lasting illness” which “reflect the acute immune response triggered by the body to the vaccines, are typically seen with most types of vaccine and tend to resolve within a day or two.”

Out of the 857,323 suspected reactions, 1,400 include more serious potential side effects such as anaphylaxis, blood clots and capillary leak syndrome (a rare but potentially fatal condition where blood leaks from the small blood vessels into the body). Again, this does not mean that the vaccine caused them.

There have been 1,213 reported deaths within seven days of vaccination. Although Mr Corbyn gave the correct number, he was wrong to say these were all caused by the vaccines.

The MHRA’s report states: “The majority of these reports were in elderly people or people with underlying illness.”

The MHRA states that individual reviews have (so far) found no link between these deaths and the vaccine. 

Mr Corbyn also claimed people are more likely to die from Covid-19 vaccines than from Covid-19. This is clearly untrue, as at least 123,647 people have already died of Covid in England and Wales so far. Even if everyone in England and Wales had been infected with Covid, this would still make it much more dangerous than vaccination. 

Mr Corbyn claims in his post there is a 99.97% survival rate for Covid-19. We’ve written before about how European estimates (i.e. estimates in countries with similar age profiles and healthcare quality as the UK) put the fatality rate at somewhere between 0.5% and 1%, meaning the “survival rate” could be somewhere between 99% and 99.5%. But precise estimates for the UK are difficult to make, because we don’t know how many people have caught Covid, and therefore what proportion have survived.

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 reported reactions and deaths are not necessarily caused by the vaccines. The vaccines are also far less dangerous than Covid-19 itself.

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