For those who don’t read past the headlines, a concerning narrative appears — “Fifteen deaths after coronavirus vaccination,” “Deaths at care home after coronavirus vaccine,” “Volunteer in vaccine trial dies after COVID-19 vaccine.” In each case, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. DW reviewed several cases in Germany, Spain, the US, Norway, Belgium, and Peru, finding that in all cases experts from multiple health authorities could not find causal links between the vaccination and deaths.
As of publication, at least 37 million coronavirus vaccinations have been administered in these countries, according to Bloomberg’s global vaccine tracker. In those countries, the total number of reported deaths that have occurred post-vaccination is around 350. As US data includes user-submitted information, at least 181 of these cases have not been independently verified.
The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), which is in charge of vaccination in Germany, has been looking into 113 reported deaths in the country. In all these cases, those who died were aged from 79 to 93 years old and died between one hour and 19 days after receiving the vaccine. Of those 113, 20 died as a result of the COVID-19 infection (19 of them did not have full vaccination protection; the other case is still unclear). 43 people died as a result of pre-existing conditions, according to Brigitte Keller-Stanislawski, the head of the PEI’s department of safety for medical products. “Based on the data that we have, we assume that the patients died of their underlying disease — in a coincidental time with the vaccination,” she told German broadcaster n-tv. While she did not comment on individual cases, she said, “They were very seriously ill patients with many underlying diseases.”
“If the elderly or people with severe pre-existing conditions are vaccinated, there will be a certain number of accidental deaths that occur shortly after vaccination, which cannot be causally associated with the vaccination. In its latest safety report, the Paul Ehrlich Institute highlights the cases of 20 vaccinated individuals who died in the setting of the COVID-19 disease.
A press spokeswoman told DW via email that “all of them except one man had incomplete vaccination protection, since the COVID-19 disease occurred after the first vaccination. Protection begins seven to 14 days after the second vaccination (depending on the vaccine) so it is possible to become ill and die from COVID-19 after receiving only the first dose. 33 Individuals with multiple pre-existing conditions are either suffering from the worsening of their underlying disease or from another disease independent of vaccination. Ten individuals died from another infectious disease, not COVID-19.”
“In all other persons, there were in some cases multiple previous diseases such as carcinomas, renal insufficiency, heart diseases and arteriosclerotic changes, which were presumably the cause of death,” she added. In 50 cases, the cause of death remains unknown. Even after a vaccination, it’s possible to develop the illness if the vaccination took place during the coronavirus incubation period (5-6 days). It is also possible to become infected after the vaccination has been administered, as it usually takes effect 10-14 days after the first dose, according to the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases (RKI).
Despite the attention-grabbing headline, the original article from Russian state media clearly states, “There is currently no indication that the vaccine played any role in the deaths.” It then refers readers to a fact-check stating that “It is statistically inevitable that some people will get sick and die after getting the shot, for reasons that are unrelated to their body’s response to the vaccine.” This disclaimer is missing from those who have replicated the article.
Widely reported in India, this claim is based on a press release by Children’s Health Defense, an anti-vaccination advocacy group headed by prominent anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and known for producing misinformation on vaccines and anti-vaccine propaganda.
This article was provided by Deutsche Welle