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Fact check: High rates of COVID-19 cases, not vaccine delivery, led to rise in reported deaths

A Facebook post has suggested the surge of COVID-19 deaths in Britain has been caused by the coronavirus vaccine rather than from the virus itself. This is not true.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

Shared hundreds of times, the post (here) features two graphs which map the trajectory of COVID-19 deaths in the UK.

They appear to show deaths rising in line with the roll out of the coronavirus vaccine, which started on Dec. 8.

“Old people are imprisoned in the carehomes, staff are being tested 3 TIMES per week to get the all clear before they can work to stop transmission BUT we have a surge in DEATHS.........look when the V Shot was rolled out and look at the stats and then make your conclusion.....”, the caption of the post reads.

The post also contains a screenshot of a Telegraph newspaper headline, titled: “Government saves £600m on state pension payments as Covid deaths surge”. Comments on the post suggest some users saw this as a sign the deaths could be part of a government money saving plan.

However, evidence does not support the idea that the current wave of deaths is in any way linked to the delivery of the vaccine.

A new variant of the coronavirus was identified in England in mid-December and is said to be up to 70% more transmissible than other variants.

Some scientists believe that it could also have a higher mortality rate (here).

This has meant that restrictions such as lockdowns have been less effective at controlling the virus, leading to rising numbers of cases.

The implication that the vaccine itself is dangerous, or that it is designed to kill the elderly, is false.

Vaccines go through rigorous safety testing and are given to thousands of volunteers before being licensed for use (here).

Once the vaccine is approved for use, its safety is continuously monitored.

In the UK, vaccine safety is monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) (here).

VERDICT

False. The current surge in COVID-19 deaths in the UK is not linked to the roll-out of vaccines. Scientists believe a more transmissible strain of the virus explains the recent steep rise in cases and associated deaths.

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

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