False claims about vaccine deaths and post-mortems in the UK are currently being shared by two widely followed Facebook pages.
Almost identical posts with the claims have been added to two profiles and have each gathered hundreds of shares and reactions (here, here). The posts say “circumstantial evidence” suggests COVID-19 vaccines could be deadly to the majority of over-65s, and that one of the shots killed Captain Tom Moore, a 100-year-old war veteran who raised millions of pounds for British healthcare services. They then say post-mortems have been called off “indefinitely” to fuel an argument about the severity of the pandemic.
None of these claims are true. Other claims made in the 1,500-word posts are outside the scope of this check.
For the first claims about vaccines, the post reads: “There is also circumstantial evidence which suggests the current batch of shots could be killing as many as two thirds of the over-65’s, as the endless stream of post-vaxx deaths in care homes around the world horrifyingly affirms.”
There is also no “circumstantial evidence” to suggest two-thirds of over-65’s are dying as a result of COVID inoculations. The latest weekly data from NHS England at the time of publication shows that over five million over-65s in England had received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 31, 2021 (here).
Nor is there evidence of an “endless stream” of deaths in care homes connected to the shot. On Jan. 19, England recorded a 46% jump in coronavirus-related care home deaths from the week prior – but this increase was believed to be a result of fast-spreading COVID variants during the latest wave of the pandemic (here). It resulted in care home leaders around the country calling for a shorter gap between first and second vaccine doses as there is already a delay for when the effects kick in (here, here).
A series of deaths reported in a care home in Norway after residents received a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine briefly raised concerns about a possible link (here), but the Norwegian Institute for Public Health (NIPH) later said no statistical connection had so far been found (here).
“In order to be able to interpret this information, it is important to see the full picture,” said Dr Sara Viksmoen Watle, a senior physician at the NIPH. “Nursing home residents are at very high risk of a severe disease course or dying from COVID-19, and have therefore been prioritised for vaccination. A large proportion of those who live in nursing homes have severe underlying conditions or are in the last stages of life. Life expectancy in nursing homes is relatively short and on average, more than 300 people die in Norwegian nursing homes every week.” Watle added that in-depth analysis would continue.
The second claim in the Facebook post, relating to post-mortems, is also untrue. It argues that all patients who die after testing positive for COVID-19 should be subject to a post-mortem but says this is not currently possible because of an “unlawful suspension of autopsies”.
“The only legislative measure preventing this is the comprehensively unlawful and definitively void Coronavirus Act 2020, which effectively suspended autopsies indefinitely, even when people die in suspicious circumstances,” it says.
The Coronavirus Act, a piece of legislation passed to give the UK government emergency powers in the pandemic, has not suspended post-mortems at all. Some changes were made to account for the pressure on the system by removing requirements under some circumstances for a post-mortem to take place (here), but this is not the same as suspending them altogether (here). The chief coroner’s assessment of the Act also does not refer to a suspension (here), and further advice published includes guidance on post-mortems. It takes into account the pressure and offers advice on how to proceed (here).
The posts also includes a false claim in reference to Captain Tom Moore, who died on Tuesday: “Our adversaries are now so concerned that the masses are waking up to the lethal nature of ‘vaccine adverse events’ that they are even pretending a sadly deceased centenarian didn’t have the COVID jab, shortly before he died of the symptoms it is known to cause or exacerbate [pneumonia]”.
Moore did have pneumonia, but this was not exacerbated by a COVID vaccine because he was never able to get the jab in the first place. His daughter confirmed days before his death that his vaccination had not been scheduled because of his ill health. She also said he had caught the virus (here, here, here).
False. There is no evidence to suggest COVID vaccines are deadly to the majority of the over-65 population, nor have post-mortems been indefinitely suspended by legislation.
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