This article was published before the MHRA announced a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a very rare type of blood clot, which can be fatal. It was correct at the time of writing. Our latest fact checks about Covid-19 and the pandemic can be found here.
A widely shared Facebook post wrongly suggests that Covid-19 vaccines are unsafe because so many reactions are being reported through the UK’s Yellow Card scheme.
The post says: “They keep telling us vaccines are safe!! So why don't they address this?? 205 FATALITIES AND 114k+ ADVERSE REACTIONS!”
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.
However, an adverse event that occurs after vaccination did not necessarily occur because of it. As the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) explains: “The nature of Yellow Card reporting means that reported events are not always proven side effects. Some events may have happened anyway, regardless of vaccination. This is particularly the case when millions of people are vaccinated, and especially when most vaccines are being given to the most elderly people and people who have underlying illness.”
The post shows what appears to be a composite image of the top of the Yellow Card scheme website combined with two sections of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) latest data on reactions reported after administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine. These number 114,625 in total, including 205 deaths.
The MHRA’s full analysis of this data explains that none of these fatalities appear to have been caused by the vaccine. Nor is there any sign that the vaccine is causing serious non-fatal reactions.
On the subject of the 205 fatalities, the analysis says: “The majority of these reports were in elderly people or people with underlying illness... Review of individual reports and patterns of reporting does not suggest the vaccine played a role in the death.”
Regarding the other suspected reactions, it says: “A range of other isolated or series of reports of non-fatal, serious suspected [adverse drug reactions] have been reported. These all remain under continual review, including through analysis of expected rates in the absence of vaccine. There are currently no indications of specific patterns or rates of reporting that would suggest the vaccine has played a role.”
Overall, it finds so far that, “The expected benefits of the vaccines in preventing COVID-19 and serious complications associated with COVID-19 far outweigh any currently known side effects.”
The Yellow Card scheme is similar to the VAERS reporting system in the US, which we have written about before.