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• The claim cites a German news story, which did not report that all of the athletes listed had died, did not say they all had heart attacks and included a disclaimer that not all of the people listed became ill because of vaccination.
• Of the 75 athletes included on the list, not all died and not all were vaccinated against COVID-19.
• Some who died had a history of heart problems or family history of death by heart attack.
A news article makes the case that dozens of prominent athletes had heart attacks and died following vaccination against COVID-19, and it cites a German news story as proof — even though the story did not say any such thing.
The article appeared with the headline, "German News Agency Tracks 75 Prominent Athletes Suddenly Dead Of Heart Attacks After COVID Vax." It was shared on Facebook in a post that 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 headline and article in the post misrepresent the text of the German article that they claim to be based on.
The German story did not report that all of the athletes had died, did not say they all had heart attacks and included the disclaimer that not all of the people included on the list became ill because of vaccination.
Some of the athletes listed in the German news story are alive, and some were not vaccinated against COVID-19. And some who died had a history of heart problems or a family history of death by heart attack.
COVID-19 vaccines have been associated with inflammation of the heart muscle, called myocarditis, with teenage boys and young men most likely to be affected. But the risk is very low, and most cases are mild with a quick recovery. Doctors say the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risk of myocarditis.
The article in the Facebook post, from a site called Mic Drop Politics, gave a brief introduction mentioning 75 deaths, then presents a partial list of the people included in the German news story.
The first person named, Italian soccer player Giuseppe Perrino, died of a heart attack June 2 while playing in a soccer game honoring his brother who had died of a heart attack while cycling in 2018. A headline on a news story about Perrino’s death reads, "Heart attack kills Giuseppe Perrino like brother Rocco." Stories about his death do not mention COVID-19 vaccination.
The second person on the list, Danish soccer player Christian Eriksen, is alive. Eriksen collapsed June 12 during a soccer game after a cardiac arrest. Misinformation quickly circulated that Eriksen had received the COVID-19 vaccine a few weeks before his collapse, but the director of his professional team debunked the rumor. Eriksen had not been vaccinated against COVID-19, PolitiFact and other outlets reported.
Speed skater Kjeld Nuis is listed third, and he is also alive. He experienced inflammation of the sac surrounding his heart in July following COVID-19 vaccination, but he "recovered well" and joined a training camp two weeks later, Netherland News Live reported.
Farther down the list is French former soccer player Franck Berrier, who died of a heart attack in August while playing tennis — two years after retiring from soccer because of heart problems. Stories about his death do not mention any link to COVID-19 vaccination.
Despite the headline identifying the athletes as "prominent," the list includes a Belgian handball player and a 17-year-old high school student.
A translation of the German news story says the list includes not only those who died after cardiac events, but also people who survived. The Mic Drop Politics article, however, does not make that distinction. The German news story also says it is "not claiming that all of these people fell ill and died because of the vaccination."
A Facebook post included an article with the headline, "German News Agency Tracks 75 Prominent Athletes Suddenly Dead Of Heart Attacks After COVID Vax."
The article cites a German news story that did not report that information. The athletes listed in the German news story did not all die, nor did they all have heart attacks.
Some of the people listed were not vaccinated against COVID-19, and some who died had a history of heart problems or a family history of death by heart attack.
We rate this claim False.
ANSA, "Footballer dies in game in brother's honour," June 3, 2021
First Draft News, "Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest prompts vaccine misinformation," June 14, 2021
Mic Drop Politics, "German News Agency Tracks 75 Prominent Athletes Suddenly Dead Of Heart Attacks After COVID Vax," Nov. 10, 2021
Nature, "Heart-inflammation risk from Pfizer COVID vaccine is very low," Oct. 8, 2021
Netherland News Live, "Kjeld Nuis recovered well from inflamed pericardium after vaccination | Ice skating," July 21, 2021
PolitiFact, "Christian Eriksen, Danish soccer player who collapsed, didn’t receive the Pfizer vaccine," June 14, 2021
Report 24, "Ab 13 Jahren! Lange Liste "plötzlich" verstorbener oder schwerkranker Sportler," Oct. 28, 2021
The New Statesman, UK Edition, "Every week 12 young people die from sudden cardiac death. Is it time to start screening runners?" Nov. 7, 2018
The Scottish Sun, "Franck Berrier dead at 37: French former footballer dies after suffering heart attack while playing tennis," Aug. 13, 2021
USA Today, "Fact check: Christian Eriksen didn't receive COVID-19 vaccine before collapsing," June 20, 2021
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