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Fact Check-There is no evidence the government is ‘covering up’ deaths of people who have received the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab; official monitoring and action suggests the opposite

A blog shared on social media said the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 “is killing people”, and claims the British government is attempting to hide this effect. However, there is no evidence to support this claim. Medicine regulators have suggested a potential link between rare blood clots and the jab, but this has not been confirmed. Consistent monitoring and regular reporting of potential side effects, as well as changes to advice on administering vaccines, also does not suggest a “cover up” has taken place.

The article, titled: “The AstraZeneca Jab IS Killing People & It’s Being Covered Up”, has been liked hundreds of times across Facebook since it was published on March 31 (bit.ly/3cZr8fp , here) . As evidence, the article cites decisions in other countries such as Germany and Canada to restrict usage of the AstraZeneca jab, along with a comparison of Freedom of Information requests (FOI).

In response to an FOI request, seen here and cited in the article bit.ly/3cZr8fp, about the number of deaths to occur within 28 days after a COVID-19 vaccination, Public Health Scotland (PHS) said 2,207 people had died, according to data up to Feb. 26. The PHS response added: “Please note that these deaths are due to any cause. PHS is not currently aware of any deaths in Scotland that are considered conclusively linked to vaccination.”

The article goes on to claim Public Health England (PHE) had received “dozens” of the same requests but is yet to respond. It concludes: “The AstraZeneca vaccine is killing people. There’s no doubt about that. The coverup has already started. Share this information with everyone you know who is considering having a jab.”

However, these factors do not support the article’s claim that the government is hiding deaths resulting from the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Reuters spoke by telephone with PHE, which said FOIs of this nature received responses within the required time frame. The agency added that such responses have advised citizens to contact the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which stores information through the Yellow Card reporting scheme (yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/). Analysis of the data is regularly published online here .

The latest Yellow Card summary report from the MHRA, updated on April 8 and publicly available here , says it has received 302 UK reports of suspected adverse reactions to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in which the patient died shortly after vaccination, 472 such reports for the AstraZeneca vaccine and 12 where the brand of vaccine was unspecified. The report added that most of the deaths were in elderly people or those with underlying illness and evidence “does not suggest the vaccine played a role in the death”.

The article also fails to mention that Britain’s regulators have been investigating a potential link between the AstraZeneca jab and blood clots. Published on March 31, the article did not make note of the MHRA announcement on March 18 that there had been five cases of a rare brain blood clot among 11 million administered shots. At the time, the agency said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks (here).

On April 7, MHRA chief executive June Raine said more than 20 million first doses had been administered by March 31. Among those were 79 reports of blood clots and 19 deaths. Despite no causal link being categorically confirmed (here), this figure prompted Britain’s vaccine advisory committee to say it would offer an alternative COVID-19 vaccine to those under 30 years old. AstraZeneca has also said it is working with the British and European regulators to list possible brain blood clots as "an extremely rare potential side-effect" (here).

Wei Shen Lim, chair of Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said younger people had much lower risks of hospitalisation and so the risk/benefit calculation of the AstraZeneca shot meant other vaccines were preferable (here).

Even with these findings, regulators such as the European Medicines Agency and the MHRA said the benefits outweighed the risks for the majority of recipients (here, here).

VERDICT

False. There is no evidence the government is hiding deaths from the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. UK regulators have consistently monitored the COVID-19 roll-out, published their findings and have acted upon results.

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

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