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Andy Nguyen
By Andy Nguyen March 31, 2021

European database does not prove the COVID-19 vaccines are lethal

If Your Time is short

  • The post shares information from a European database of reported adverse effects after COVID-19 vaccination. The agency maintaining the database stresses the information it provides is preliminary and requires additional research before making conclusions.
  • The vaccines have been administered to millions of people across the globe and health agencies have vouched for their safety and effectiveness.

As states across the U.S. expand the eligibility for getting a COVID-19 shot, a conservative website blasted out a warning from Europe.

The Gateway Pundit claimed two of the vaccines being used in the United States are behind thousands of deaths and injuries in Europe.

"From Europe: 3,964 people have died from adverse drug reactions for COVID-19 ‘vaccines’ – 162,610 injuries," said the headline of the March 28 story, which was shared on Facebook.

The Facebook post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The Gateway Pundit cites information from Global Research, a Canadian website run by the Centre for Research on Globalization, which was accused by NATO of posting conspiracy theories, spreading Russian disinformation and undermining Western media.

The post specifically looks at vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, offering a breakdown of the different injuries and deaths purportedly associated with each vaccine using numbers from a European Union-maintained database called EudraVigilance.

The implication is the COVID-19 vaccines are harmful and could result in injury or death.

However, the numbers are taken out of context to exaggerate the risk of vaccines.

The EudraVigilance database itself cautions the information it collects is for "suspected side effects ... but which are not necessarily related to our caused by the medicine."

"Information on suspected side effects should not be interpreted as meaning that the medicine or the active substance causes the observed effect or is unsafe to use," EudraVigilance’s website says. "Only a detailed evaluation and scientific assessment of all available data allows for robust conclusions to be drawn on the benefits and risks of a medicine."

Taking the raw data of possible COVID-19 vaccination reactions at face value and using them without context is an oft-used tactic by people attempting to undermine public confidence in the vaccines, according to the New York Times. They frequently interpret the numbers from EudraVigilance or from its United States counterpart, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, as evidence of the vaccines’ dangers.

 

 

Since VAERS doesn’t show whether an adverse event was caused by the vaccine or occurred coincidentally, it’s generally not useful on its own for assessing whether a vaccine poses a risk to human health, Dr. Walter Orenstein, associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, previously told PolitiFact.

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The numbers shared by both the European and American databases have also not been thoroughly vetted independently by scientists. In some cases, the reactions are self-reported.

A doctor once successfully reported to VAERS the flu vaccine had turned him into The Hulk, a Marvel Comics character, in an effort to show the possible dangers of blindly relying on the data.

It’s too early to tell if the reactions that are being reported are merely coincidental. Regardless, health agencies in the United States and abroad continue to monitor the vaccines’ safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been able to confirm extremely rare cases of people developing a severe allergic reaction to their vaccinations. Those reactions occur in about two to five people per 1 million who are vaccinated and can be treated quickly.

There hasn’t been any definitive proof that a COVID-19 vaccination led to someone’s death.

So far, U.S. regulators have granted emergency use authorization to three vaccines — they come from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The CDC says the vaccines in use in the U.S. are safe and effective

AstraZeneca has not yet asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine.

A possible blood clotting issue, reported in Germany in relation to the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently under study and is said to be extremely rare. While several countries suspended the vaccine’s use for certain groups, a definitive link has not yet been found.

Our ruling

A post claimed that in Europe "3,964 people have died from adverse drug reactions for COVID-19 ‘vaccines’ – 162,610 injuries."

That’s a misrepresentation of information in an European database that tracks suspected reactions to medicines, including COVID-19 vaccines. The agency behind the database cautions that the information is only of suspected side effects, and that it should not be interpreted as meaning that the medicine caused the effects or that it’s unsafe.

A detailed evaluation and scientific assessment of all available data is needed before drawing conclusions, the agency said.

The COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to millions of people across Europe and the United States, and health agencies have vouched for their safety and effectiveness. We found no definitive proof that a COVID-19 vaccine caused someone’s death.

We rate this claim False. 

RELATED: Why you shouldn’t worry about getting Bell’s Palsy from the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

RELATED: The ‘shaking’ COVID-19 vaccine side-effect videos and what we know about them

Our Sources

The Gateway Pundit, "From Europe: 3,964 People Have Died from Adverse Drug Reactions for COVID-19 "Vaccines" – 162,610 Injuries," March 28, 2021

Centre for Research on Globalization, "3,964 Dead 162,610 Injuries: European Database of Adverse Drug Reactions for COVID-19 ‘Vaccines,’" March 25, 2021

The Globe and Mail, "NATO research centre sets sights on Canadian website over pro-Russia disinformation," Nov. 17, 2017

EudraVigilance, European database of suspected adverse drug reactions reports, accessed March 30, 2021

The New York Times, "Far-Right Extremists Move From ‘Stop the Steal’ to Stop the Vaccine," March 26, 2021

VAERS, About Us, accessed March 30, 2021

Politifact, "Deaths after vaccination don’t prove that COVID-19 vaccine is lethal," Feb. 16, 2021

Politifact, "CDC accepts all manner of reported vaccination effects--even symptoms of the Hulk," May 11, 2017

Centers for Disease Control and Protection, Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination, accessed March 30, 2021

Associated Press, "EXPLAINER: What we know about AstraZeneca blood clot reports," March 31, 2021

CNN, "Canada halting AstraZeneca vaccine shots for people 55 and younger," March 30, 2021

Politifact, "Why Europe took a closer look at AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine," March 18, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Protection, Understanding and Explaining mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines, accessed March 30, 2021

NPR, "Few Facts, Millions Of Clicks: Fearmongering Vaccine Stories Go Viral Online," March 25, 2021

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European database does not prove the COVID-19 vaccines are lethal

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