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Fact Check-More people have not died from COVID-19 vaccines than from the disease itself

A social media post has incorrectly claimed that more people have died from COVID-19 vaccine than from the disease itself.

The post contains text superimposed over a photograph of British health minister Matt Hancock being vaccinated, which reads: "Data shows more people have died because of the Covid vaccines in 6 months than people who have died of COVID-19 in 15 months” (here).

In the comments section, the user states that the source of the data comes from the World Health Organization (WHO).

While it is not exactly clear what data the user is referring to, a spokesperson for the WHO told Reuters in an email that the claim is not true.

Since the start of the pandemic, the WHO has recorded more than 3.8 million deaths from COVID-19 worldwide (covid19.who.int/).

In the UK, government data shows that there has been than 127,000 deaths within 28 days of positive COVID-19 test (here).

This rises to more than 152,000 people who have died whose death certificate mentioned COVID-19 as one of the causes.

Meanwhile, more than 42 million people in the UK have now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine (here).

Data from the UK’s Yellow Card scheme (yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/), a website for citizens to report possible adverse reactions to vaccines (ADR), is compiled into a weekly report published by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

It includes reports of possible ADRs in which a patient has later died. 

The latest Yellow Card data up to June 9 shows that there have been 1,332 deaths reported after a COVID-19 vaccine.

This includes 421 after the Pfizer/BioNTech shot, 885 after Oxford/AstraZeneca, four after the Moderna vaccine, and 22 where the brand of vaccine is unspecified (here).

However, these deaths are not confirmed as being caused by the vaccine. Instead, they are suspected adverse reactions, and could well be coincidental.

“Many suspected ADRs reported on a Yellow Card do not have any relation to the vaccine or medicine and it is often coincidental that they both occurred around the same time”, the MHRA says in its report (here).

The agency explains that “vaccination and surveillance of large populations” inevitably means some people will die or experience a new illness in the time after vaccination.

“Part of our continuous analysis includes an evaluation of natural death rates over time, to determine if any specific trends or patterns are occurring that might indicate a vaccine safety concern.”

This being said, even if these suspected fatal ADRs were later to be confirmed, the figure would still be far lower than the number who have died from the coronavirus.

VERDICT

False. There is no real evidence, from the WHO or elsewhere, to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine has killed more people than the disease itself, which has so far killed more than 3,800,000 people worldwide.

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

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