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Fact Check-Denmark paused its COVID-19 vaccine program due to high inoculation

Denmark has paused its general COVID-19 vaccination program because vaccine coverage is high and the country’s epidemic situation has improved, not because of a study into vaccine-induced heart issues. It has not stopped its entire inoculation program as the shots are still available to the public.

One Facebook user wrote that Denmark has suspended its COVID-19 vaccine program after a “study of 23 million people raises health alarms” (here).

Their post includes a screenshot of a LifeSiteNews article (here) headlined: “mRNA COVID shots tied to increase risk of myocarditis, massive Nordic study finds.”

LifeSiteNews is a Canadian far-right news website that has been removed from Facebook for publishing misleading information about coronavirus (here). Snopes.com has described the website as “a known purveyor of misleading misinformation” (here).

Similar posts that miss crucial context can be seen on Facebook (here, here and here), and Twitter (here and here), where it has been shared more than 8,000 times.

However, a spokesperson for the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) told Reuters via email that it “is not correct” to suggest Denmark has stopped its vaccine program in its entirety.

“The general COVID-vaccination program in Denmark has been paused for the time being. It is still possible to get vaccinated,” the spokesperson said.

They explained that the general program has been paused – meaning invitations to get vaccinated will not be sent for now – because vaccine coverage is high among the population and that the country’s epidemic situation is “favourable”. But the program is “ready to resume” if needed ahead of the autumn, when they plan for it to reopen due to a likely increase in COVID-19 infections (here).

“However, as an individual, it is still possible to get vaccinated if you wish to start or finish a vaccination program, and for example get a booster shot,” the spokesperson added.

They also told Reuters that the peer-reviewed Nordic study (here) mentioned in the LifeSiteNews article “did not have any influence in this decision”.

The paper, which explores the link between mRNA vaccines and myocarditis, concludes that mRNA vaccines “were associated with increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis”. However, it also states that “this risk should be balanced against the benefits of protecting against severe COVID-19 disease”. It adds that myocarditis after mRNA vaccination “was rare in this study cohort and even among young males”, where the risk is highest.

Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London (here), told Reuters for a previous fact check (here) that there are “very large, peer-reviewed studies” which show “the overwhelming statistical case is that myocarditis, pericarditis, blood clots, strokes or heart attacks and death is massively skewed to those who are unvaccinated and become infected”.

Likewise, Professor Jeffrey Morris, the director of biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania (here), told Reuters that although myocarditis and pericarditis is “higher in vaccinated people than unvaccinated people” who have never been infected with SARS-CoV-2, they are “18 times higher in viral-infected people”.

Reuters has also addressed claims about COVID-19, vaccines and myocarditis in a previous check here.

VERDICT

Missing context. Denmark has temporarily paused its COVID-19 vaccination program and not stopped it entirely. It has been paused due to the country’s high vaccine coverage, not because of a study into myocarditis.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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