Fact Check-The first man to receive Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, William Shakespeare, died from a stroke not the jab

Contrary to claims on social media, the first man to receive the coronavirus vaccine in Britain was not killed by the jab.

Named after England’s greatest dramatist and poet, William “Bill” Shakespeare died from a stroke that was unrelated to his inoculation, the hospital who treated him said.

Following in the steps of 90-year-old Margaret Keenan, Shakespeare became the second person in the world to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine outside a clinical trial (here).

Shakespeare received the vaccine in December at University Hospital Coventry, 20 miles from Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of his namesake.

On May 20, the grandfather of four passed away at the hospital, prompting social media users to claim the vaccine caused his death.

“And this is why they gave it to the elderly first so their deaths could be passed off as ‘old age’....hold anyone you love, who’s taken this poison, close to you now”, warned one social media post (here). “Still want to put that experimental vaccine in your body”, asked another (here).

But Shakespeare died from a stroke that was “completely unrelated” to the vaccine, University Hospital Coventry told Reuters in an email.

According to media reports, the 81-year-old had been hospitalised from a stroke before he had even received the first vaccine dose (here , here).

In a statement released by the hospital, Shakespeare’s wife said that he was grateful for the opportunity to become one of the first people to be vaccinated.

“He often talked to people about it and would always encourage everyone to get their vaccine whenever he could.”


False. Shakespeare died from a stroke, not the vaccine. Reports said that the 81-year-old had previously been hospitalised from a stroke before he had received the vaccine.

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