Fact check: Misleading meme suggests deaths following COVID-19 vaccination are due to vaccine

The claim: Deaths followDeaths ing COVID-19 vaccination are due to the vaccine

As the U.S. reaches an unlucky landmark in coronavirus deaths — over 500,000 on Tuesday, a number of unsurpassed by every other state — one meme on social media is drawing interest to deaths following COVID-19 vaccination.

“What’s your mind? Have you heard these stories?” asks one Feb. 19 Instagram publish depicting the “I Guess I’ll Die” meme – an photo of a man in a red turtleneck shrugging – surrounded by using 9 exceptional headlines from various news retailers reporting post-vaccination deaths. 

Three of the headlines contain deaths in Portugal, Brazil and Norway; the alternative six involvemedical experts in California, a Florida physician, a Virginia woman in her 40s and New York guy in his 70s. 

While not explicit in its messaging, the juxtaposition of the headlines around the principal meme, frequently used to deliver resignation to death, suggests the vaccine may be the offender. Many of the submit’s comments echo the sentiment, likening the vaccine to the infamously unethical Tuskegee syphilis have a look at on Black guys, which falsely advertised treatment for “terrible blood,” a term typically used for a garden type of ailments. 

“If people get (the vaccine) they are insane: Tuskegee Experiment with a twist,” wrote one commentator. 

“Hard bypass … I urge you all to analyze the Tuskegee experiment if you haven’t already,” any other wrote. “We are guinea pigs. Don’t play yourself.”      

USA TODAY became not able to reach the Instagram user for in addition comment. 

More:Fact check: CDC isn’t inflating the COVID-19 demise be counted

Deaths among elderly in Norway ruled unrelated to vaccine

One of the 9 headlines is a Jan. 15 article posted inside the New York Post that info the deaths of 23 people in Norway — all over age 75 and 13 of whom have been nursing domestic citizens — within per week of vaccination with Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.

On social media, information of those deaths quickly morphed into the declare that Pfizer’s vaccine was singularly responsible. This allegation become further compounded through the dying of 86-yr-antique former Atlanta Braves athlete Hank Aaron nearly three weeks after his first vaccine dose on Jan. 22. 

Aaron’s dying isn’t believed related to the vaccine. Similarly, an ongoing research with the aid of the Norwegian Medicines Agency and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has no longer observed any proof to suggest the deaths a few of the 23 critically frail and aged humans have been related to the vaccine.

“So some distance, there are no statistical analyses that imply that coronavirus vaccination has had an extended chance of loss of life amongst those vaccinated,” said Dr. Sara Viksmoen Watle of the NIPH in a Jan. 18 declaration.    

The World Health Organization additionally conducted its own review and did not find “any unexpected or untoward growth in fatalities in frail, aged people or unusual traits of negative activities following administration of BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine).”         

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Deaths in Portugal and Brazil

On Jan. four, the British Daily Mail suggested 41-year-vintage Portuguese medical expert Sonia Acevedo had died on Jan. 1, ” days once you have the Pfizer covid vaccine.” The article was among many others suggesting a correlation among the timing of her death and the vaccine.      

In a Jan. 5 press release, the Portuguese Ministry of Justice said initial post-mortem findings did no longer indicate “evidence of a causal relationship among (Acevedo’s) dying and the vaccine she obtained.” No reason of death changed into provided, the ministry bringing up the “secrecy of justice” as the reason why. USA TODAY used Google Translate and other translation services to interpret Portuguese into English.

Prior to Acevedo’s death, a volunteer in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial in Brazil died, CNN mentioned in October. Because AstraZeneca had no longer discontinued or paused the trial, as it had accomplished within the beyond due to an “unexplained illness” among considered one of its U.K. Phase III trial volunteers, it seemed the volunteer’s demise was now not vaccine related. 

“All significant clinical incidents, whether or not individuals are within the control group or the Covid-19 vaccine group, are independently reviewed. Following careful assessment of this situation in Brazil, there had been no concerns about protection of the scientific trial and the impartial assessment in addition to the Brazilian regulator have recommended that the trial should maintain,” said the University of Oxford, AstraZeneca’s collaborator, in an emailed assertion to CNN. 

While no extra details at the dying had been launched because of “scientific confidentiality and medical trial rules,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson advised CNN, Bloomberg suggested the volunteer who died changed into not most of the vaccine arm, in line with an insider supply.    

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Deaths of two California medical experts

Three of the 9 headlines in the Instagram publish refer to deaths in Orange and Placer counties in California.

Tim Zook, an X-ray technologist at South Coast Global Medical Center in Santa Ana, received his 2d coronavirus vaccine dose on Jan. 5, in step with both local FOX and CBS News affiliates. He changed into hospitalized after experiencing abdominal ache and trouble breathing hours later, subsequently located in a medically precipitated coma on Jan. 7 and died on Jan. nine.

Zook’s dying has been pronounced to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a national monitoring device co-managed by means of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

No purpose of loss of life has been diagnosed; further investigation is underway.

“The Orange County Coroner has an open demise research into Zook’s loss of life and Deaths might be engaging in extra exams inside its autopsy protocol … it will use the ones findings, along side autopsy findings, to make a very last willpower into the cause and way of dying a good way to now not in all likelihood arise for three-four months,” stated the Orange County Coroner’s workplace in an e-mail to USA TODAY.

If the demise is ruled vaccine-associated, the workplace stated it would without delay notify the Orange County Health Care Agency.

In Placer County, an unnamed health worker died on Jan. 21 numerous hours after being vaccinated, NBC News Wisconsin affiliate suggested. 

The Deaths sixty four-12 months-antique male had tested nice for the unconventional coronavirus in late December; on the time of his demise, health officials did not imply whether or not this factored into his fitness or loss of life. 

The Placer County Sheriff-Coroner Division ruled out the vaccine as a cause of death in an updated announcement launched Jan. 30 on its Facebook web page. 

“Through our investigation, we’ve got discovered greater details about the man or woman. We have learned that now not only had he currently been recognized with COVID-19, he also had underlying fitness issues, and have been exhibiting symptoms of contamination at the time the vaccine turned into administered. Clinical exam and lab outcomes have determined the COVID-19 vaccine has been ruled out as a contributing issue in the person’s dying.”

More:Fact test: Post distorts WHO’s COVID-19 PCR testing guidelines

Florida health practitioner’s dying nonetheless under research

Obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Gregory Michael died from complications of immune thrombocytopenia, or ITP – bad blood clotting because of a lack of platelets – in early January. 

The fifty six-12 months-old received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 18 at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, where he practiced, and died 16 days later from a mind hemorrhage after multiple treatments for his ITP failed, The New York Times said. 

Pfizer informed the Times it was “actively investigating” the doctor’s demise “but we don’t believe at this time that there is any direct connection to the vaccine.” 

Thirty-six different comparable cases of ITP had been pronounced to VAERS, the Times reported in early February, however it’s miles unknown whether or not those occasions are causally related to the vaccine.

It is really worth noting ITP changed into now not located in either Moderna or Pfizer’s huge medical trials of combined over 70,000 individuals. 

More:Fact check: Amish groups were tormented by COVID-19 pandemic

Death of Virginia lady believed no longer due to vaccine, research underway for demise of New York guy

Earlier in February, Drene Keyes of Gloucester, Virginia, and an unnamed New York City resident in his 70s have been stated to have died quickly after vaccination.

NBC information reported Keyes, 58, become vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. five. She remained in the health facility for the encouraged 15-minute remark length to screen for any allergic reaction before being discharged. Keyes later lower back with court cases of vomiting and problem respiration, at which point she changed into rushed to Virginia Commonwealth University Health Tappahannock Hospital. She died the next day. 

According to Dr. M. Norman Oliver, Virginia nation health commissioner, Keyes’ loss of life did now not seem connected to any vaccine-related allergy. 

“Preliminary findings suggest that the reason of death was now not anaphylaxis, however it’ll take numerous weeks for extra data to end up available,” he said in a declaration on Feb. 5. “We can verify that the death passed off inside hours of having received the vaccine, but that isn’t proof of it being related. We are currently investigating and do no longer but understand the reason of dying.”

The unnamed New York City man died on Feb. 7 after collapsing out of doors of Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where he obtained his vaccine 25 minutes in advance, the New York Post suggested. 

In a announcement, New York kingdom health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker stated the man “exhibited no destructive reactions or any distress” throughout the 15-minute statement period.

No legitimate reason of demise has been concluded however a scientific research is underway, reported local CBS News affiliate CBS 2.

More:Fact test: Merck discontinues COVID-19 vaccine paintings over weak immune response

Correlation is not causation 

While reports of deaths following COVID-19 vaccination may sound alarming, health care specialists are reminding the general public there may be no conclusive affiliation between the two.

“These vaccines have had brilliant safety profiles within the trials and put up-authorization. So far, there has been not anything to affirm these lousy occasions,” said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, to ABC News in February. 

“These scientific activities occur each single day, consisting of unexplained ailments,” stated Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medication in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, additionally to ABC News. “The query virtually is, do they arise at a greater price within the vaccinated population than they do inside the widespread populace?”

So a ways consistent with a recent CDC file, nearly 90% of VAERS reviews had been “nonserious activities and concerned nearby and systemic signs.” The CDC predicted out of 1,000,000 humans, allergies took place in more or less Deaths five, quite a number within variety of what has been stated with different vaccines for the flu, meningitis and shingles.

The facts analyzed was accrued between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. thirteen, a term that noticed 13.8 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines administered.

A total of 113 deaths were stated, consisting of from demise certificate and autopsy reports, however no causal hyperlink among coronavirus vaccination and death become located, in keeping with the CDC.  

Our ruling: Missing context

We price this declare MISSING CONTEXT because with out additional context it is probably misleading. The deaths of diverse individuals across the U.S. and some other place following COVID-19 vaccination did arise, but the vaccine has no longer been identified as a motive of loss of life. A latest CDC record found that of the 113 dying reviews to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System between Dec. 14 and Jan. thirteen — a time period which noticed 13.eight million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines administered — no causal link among vaccination and death become discovered. 

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