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No evidence of COVID-19 vaccines causing deaths


UPDATED Sept. 20, 4:15 p.m.: This fact-check was updated to include Facebook’s explanation for why the video was not available on the site. The rating is not changed.

A 24-minute video that slams celebrities for recommending COVID-19 vaccinations claims the vaccines have killed hundreds of thousands of people.

“You may never trust another celebrity after watching this video,” the text at the start of the video reads. “Hundreds of thousands died after taking the advice of these celebrities. Should they be tried for murder? Aiding and abetting mass murder through vaccination, all for population control.”

An Aug. 24 post with the video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

That post was marked on Facebook with, “This content isn’t available right now,” after we began work on this fact-check, though the video was still circulating on the Internet. After we published this fact-check, a Facebook spokesperson told us that Facebook “took down the video for violating our policies against harmful COVID misinformation, specifically for claims that the COVID vaccine is a form of population control.”

COVID-19 has killed nearly 675,000 people in the U.S., and more than 4.5 million worldwide. The vaccines authorized in the U.S. have been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

And no evidence has established that a COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the U.S. caused any deaths, let alone hundreds of thousands.

Benjamin Linas, professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine and associate professor of epidemiology at BU’s  School of Public Health, called the statement misinformation.

“Yes, there are many people — thousands even — who have died within weeks or even days of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. That is because there are hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. and human beings are mortal,” he said.

The video

After the introductory text, the video shows clips of celebrities, including talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, singer Elton John and actors Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, endorsing COVID-19 vaccines.

But most of the video features anti-vaccine clips, including many claiming serious side effects. In one clip, a distressed woman implores people not to take a vaccine, claiming her daughter took the Pfizer vaccine yesterday “and she’s dead.”

We’ve fact-checked some of the claims made in the anti-vaccine clips. We rated False a claim that “80% of women who have been jabbed have lost their children in the first trimester.” And we rated Pants on Fire a statement that the surge in COVID-19 cases is caused by “antibody mediated viral enhancement” from the COVID-19 vaccines.

Deaths after vaccination

The video does not state where the hundreds of thousands of deaths purportedly linked to the vaccines occurred, but the video includes European as well as American celebrities.

Dr. Matthew Laurens, of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and a CDC spokeswoman said they are not aware of an international database that tracks deaths following COVID-19 vaccinations.

The U.S. has its own database, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, jointly run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

VAERS is designed so that any person can report an adverse event that occurs after a vaccination, and anyone can scour the reports. The system helps researchers detect patterns for events that occur after vaccination and that may warrant a closer look.

But VAERS accepts reports without verifying whether a vaccine actually caused that incident. That makes VAERS a breeding ground for misinformation that spreads quickly on social media and elsewhere.

The FDA and CDC warn throughout the website that reports on VAERS are not sufficient to prove whether a vaccine caused a particular adverse event, and should not be interpreted that way. Even so, for more than 30 years, VAERS data has been misused to justify broad conclusions that vaccines are harmful.

We have debunked multiple claims of COVID-19 “vaccine deaths” that misused data from a U.S. database.

Here’s what the CDC says about deaths occurring after vaccination:

  • The FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause.
  • More than 380 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from Dec. 14, 2020, through Sept. 13, 2021. In that period, VAERS received 7,653 reports of death (0.0020%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • “A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.”

The CDC has also reported:

  • As of Sept. 8, 2021, VAERS received 1,413 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis among people ages 30 and younger who received COVID-19 vaccine, and the CDC and FDA have confirmed 854 of them. “CDC and its partners are investigating these reports to assess whether there is a relationship to COVID-19 vaccination.”
  • “Recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between” the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and TTS, “a rare and serious adverse event — blood clots with low platelets — which has caused deaths.”
Our ruling

A viral video claimed: “Hundreds of thousands died after taking the advice of these celebrities,” who are “aiding and abetting mass murder” through COVID-19 vaccination.

There is no evidence to back the claim. According to the CDC, there is no evidence in the U.S. that the vaccines have caused any deaths, though it is continuing to investigate cases of death that are reported following vaccination.

We rate the post False.

Our Sources

Facebook, post, Aug. 24, 2021

PolitiFact, “No truth that VAERS system shows 6,000 “died because of” COVID-19 vaccines,” Aug. 9, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination,” updated Sept. 14, 2021

Email, Dr. Matthew Laurens of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Sept. 20, 2021

Email, Benjamin Linas, professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine and associate professor of epidemiology at BU’s  School of Public Health, Sept. 20, 2021

Email, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman Martha Sharan, Sept. 20, 2021

Email, Facebook spokesperson Ayobami Olugbemiga, Sept. 20, 2021