The risk of dying from a Covid vaccine is lower than 1 in 31,000

19 May 2021
What was claimed

The risk of a child dying of Covid-19 is around one in 3.5 million.

Our verdict

The risk of a child dying of Covid is very low, but this figure refers to the England and Wales death rate as of May last year, when more people had it so chances of getting ill were higher. Estimates suggest perhaps 1 in 100,000 children who catch Covid die of it, but, in the UK at least, there are very few infections so the risk will be lower.

What was claimed

The risk of dying after a Covid vaccination is 1 in 31,000.

Our verdict

False. It is unclear where this figure comes from, but it is far too high. In the UK, around 50 deaths have been possibly linked to one of the vaccines, an incidence of 1 in 470,000.

A post on Instagram claims the risk of a child dying from Covid-19 is around one in 3.5 million while the risk of dying from a vaccine is one in 31,000. This is not accurate. 

Risk to children

The first figure appears to come from reports that in the period to May 2020, only two deaths of children aged between five and 14 had been registered in England and Wales with Covid-19 on the death certificate, equivalent to one in 3.58 million. 

In total, 12 children aged between five and 14 in England and Wales have died with Covid on the death certificate, equivalent to around one in 600,000. 

This isn’t really a calculation of the risk for children right now, when infection rates are low, but rather just how many children have died so far. 

Research suggests that there is maybe around a one in 100,000 chance that a child who caught Covid-19 would die of it (though it should be said these estimates are very rough).

But the overall risk of death depends not only on the risk of dying of Covid-19 after catching it, but also the risk of catching it in the first place.

Currently, the prevalence of Covid-19 is very low, meaning the risk of a child dying from Covid-19 is likely much lower than one in 100,000.

Risk of dying from vaccine

The risk of dying from a vaccine is far lower than 1 in 31,000 and we found no evidence or source for the claim. 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) received reports of 1,143 deaths following vaccination as of 5 May 2021, after almost 35 million people had received a vaccine, but there isn’t proof the deaths were caused by the vaccination.

When large groups of people are vaccinated, especially when elderly and vulnerable people are prioritised, you would expect a certain number of deaths after vaccination, just by chance. The MHRA has said the majority of reported deaths following a vaccine “were in elderly people or people with underlying illness”.

The MHRA has identified a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a type of serious blood clot, which has been observed in 262 people, killing 51.

The MHRA says the overall incidence of these blood clots is 10.9 per million doses (or 1 in 92,000). Therefore the incidence of death related to these blood clots is around 1 in 470,000.

As the clots appear to be more common in younger people, under 40s are being offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

The Instagram post asks why a parent would say yes to their child being vaccinated. The Covid-19 vaccines are not currently available for children in the UK, though trials have been conducted and are ongoing to make sure they are safe for children. Pfizer has asked the MHRA to approve the use of its vaccine in 12 to 15 year-olds.

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 what is claimed to be the risk of a child dying of Covid is not actually that at all, and the risk of dying after a vaccination is far lower than reported.

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