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Fact check: Unfounded claim that 50 million Americans would die from COVID-19 vaccine

Several social media users are sharing a two-minute video featuring an interview with Judy Mikovits in which she alleges that “at least 50 million Americans would die, probably from the first dose” if a COVID-19 vaccine was mandated for the whole population. This claim is unfounded.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Different iterations of the video have at least 130,000 views on YouTube and over 6,000 shares on Facebook as of June 22, 2020. Examples of the posts are visible here , here , here .

Mikovits recently gained attention via Plandemic, a viral video that was removed from several social media platforms including Facebook and YouTube because it contained potentially harmful medical misinformation ( here ). Reuters Fact Check debunked a series of false claims made by Mikovits in Plandemic here

In this new claim, Mikovits attributes her argument to “the retroviruses we discovered that are coming through vaccines in a contaminated blood supply”.

Mikovits first came to public attention in 2009 for work involving a retrovirus. In a research paper, she and other scientists claimed to have found a type of retrovirus that played a role in chronic fatigue syndrome ( here ). The paper also raised concerns that this virus might spread via blood supply.

Two years later, the paper was fully retracted by Science Magazine, the official publication of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science ( here ).

According to Science Magazine, a team of researchers proved that the virus was created “accidentally” in the lab during mouse experiments and that “it may never have infected any humans” ( here ).

Experts contacted by Reuters said the claim that a COVID-19 vaccine could kill 50 million Americans was unsubstantiated.

A spokesperson for the Mayo Vaccine Research Group told Reuters via email they “know of no evidence to support the claims in this video whatsoever”.

A Harvard University professor told Reuters the claim was untrue and not supported by current scientific evidence. “It represents part of the anti-vaccine movement designed to create uncertainty about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines which save millions of lives each year”. This person asked not to be quoted by name in order to avoid being targeted by anti-vaccine groups.

To ensure their safety to the public, vaccines undergo an exhaustive process of examination before receiving approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (more about this process here ).

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA is “expediting trials” of potential vaccines ( here ).

More than 100 vaccine candidates are in development around the world, but as of June 22, 2020 only 13 are in clinical evaluation. ( here ). A Reuters live report on the development of the COVID-19 treatment is visible here .

VERDICT

False. There is no evidence to substantiate the claim that a vaccine for COVID-19 would kill 50 million Americans.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts  here  . 

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