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Fact Check-Claim of tens of thousands of vaccine-related EU deaths is based on a misreading of data

A Croatian politician’s claim that tens of thousands of Europeans have died as a result of COVID-19 vaccines is based on a misreading of data, the drugs regulator of the European Union has told Reuters.

Mislav Kolakušić, a member of the European Parliament (MEP), told the parliament’s session on Jan. 21 that he believed vaccination should remain a choice for EU citizens and compared mandates to capital punishment and murder (here).

Addressing French President Emmanuel Macron directly, Kolakušić said: “Today you said that you are proud there is no death penalty in Europe. Tens of thousands of citizens have died due to vaccine side effects. Mandatory vaccinations represent death penalty and its execution for many citizens. That has to remain a choice for every citizen.

“Murder is murder. Those of you who don’t know that and haven’t educated yourselves, take a look at the European health organisation (EMA).”

The clip has been shared widely across social media, including to the account of a former British MEP who said Kolakušić had accused Macron of “murdering citizens” via mandates.

Other Facebook users who uploaded the video can be viewed here, here, here and here, with one user calling it an “epic mic drop moment” and another saying: “Finally someone with a pair of cojones.”

The clip has also been posted on YouTube (here), BitChute (here, here, here and here) and Twitter (here), the latter of which was retweeted by Kolakušić. A verified user with more than 335,000 followers has also reshared here.

Reuters approached the EMA for a response to Kolakušić’s comments. In reply, a spokesperson said there had been “a lot of misrepresentation of data on suspected adverse reactions related to COVID-19 vaccines […]

“These are mostly triggered by a misunderstanding of information available in the public database of suspected adverse reaction reports (www.adrreports.eu/) which gives access to data from EudraVigilance, the EU database used for monitoring and analysing suspected side effects."

EudraVigilance data – which has been misrepresented by social media users in the past here – “relates to suspected side effects” of COVID-19 vaccines but “are not necessarily related to or caused by the medicine,” the spokesperson added.

“Information on suspected side effects should not be interpreted as meaning that the medicine or the active substance causes the observed effect or is unsafe to use. Only a detailed evaluation and scientific assessment of all available data allows for robust conclusions to be drawn on the benefits and risks of a medicine.”

The EMA spokesperson also told Reuters that reports of suspected side effects on their own are “rarely sufficient” to prove a causal link, explaining that the website does not provide a total number of cases reported with a fatal outcome. This is due to it not being the EMA’s role to decide a cause of death.

“Therefore, the data circulating in many articles and social media posts are incorrect,” the spokesperson said.

The EMA’s position continues to be that vaccines are effective at reducing the risk of COVID-19, hospitalisations and deaths.

The agency’s dedicated ‘Safety of COVID-19 vaccines’ webpage, where data are updated monthly, can be found here.

Mr Kolakušić has been approached by Reuters for comment.

VERDICT

Misleading. The MEP’s comments about vaccine side-effects are based on a misreading of the data.

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

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