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Andy Nguyen
By Andy Nguyen October 15, 2021

WHO database is not proof that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful

If Your Time is short

  • An Instagram video used information from the World Health Organization that's taken out of context.
  • The health agency stresses the information presented in its databases does not prove a definitive link between the reported side effects and the COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • The vaccines have been deemed safe and effective by health agencies across the world, and more than six billion doses have been administered to people.

While more than 6 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to people across the globe, social media users continue to cite the number of reported adverse reactions to the vaccines to cast doubt on their safety.  

A video shared on Instagram claims millions of injuries connected to the COVID-19 vaccines have been reported to the World Health Organization.

The video is a screen recording from someone’s phone as they visit the WHO’s VigiAccess website, and search for information on the COVID-19 vaccine.

The video highlights the 1.9 million records received by the health organization, and lists heart failure, hypertension and death as among the reactions people have reportedly suffered.

"Over 2 MILLION ‘C-nineteen’ injuries reported to the WHO," a caption with the video read. "Get pissed."

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

The video implies that vaccines are harmful to people and could cause serious injury or death. However, the numbers highlighted in the video are taken out of context.

VigiAccess is a website from the WHO that allows the public to access the organization's database on the reported potential side effects of drugs and immunizations.

The reports come from some of the 149 countries that participate in the organization's Programme for International Drug Monitoring, including the United States, Brazil and Vietnam. The source of the reports come from countries’ health agencies as well as from individuals who provide their own information on side effects they or someone they know have experienced.

Before a person can use VigiAccess, they receive a caution message detailing several things to consider while looking at the site.

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The message stresses that the list of reported side effects does not confirm they are caused by a particular drug or immunization.

"Information in VigiAccess on potential side effects should not be interpreted as meaning that the medicinal product or its active substance either caused the observed effect or is unsafe to use," the website says. "Confirming a causal link is a complex process that requires a thorough scientific assessment and detailed evaluation of all available data."

Anti-vaccination groups and COVID-19 skeptics typically use the data from databases like the WHO's as proof that the vaccines are harmful to people, according to the New York Times. In many cases the unconfirmed reports are misinterpreted by the groups as fact. PolitiFact has checked similar claims that used the United States’ Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System and the European Union’s EudraVigilance database as evidence of the COVID-19 vaccines danger.

The reported side effects featured in the European and American databases are similar to the WHO's, which have also not been independently confirmed by scientists.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deemed the three COVID-19 vaccines that are administered in the United States to be safe and effective.

However, the CDC has said there have been rare cases where people have developed an allergic reaction or thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome following their vaccination. The allergic reaction has occurred in roughly two to five people per million who are vaccinated, while there have only been 47 confirmed cases of people developing thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome.

There has not been a confirmed case where the COVID-19 has caused a person's death. 

Our ruling

An Instagram post claims that more than 2 million injuries related to the COVID-19 vaccines have been reported to the WHO.

The post takes reports to the health organization out of context. The injuries are a compilation of reports sent to the WHO of suspected side effects, and have not been independently confirmed by scientists.

Billions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the world, and health agencies have continued to vouch for their safety and effectiveness.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, Oct. 3, 2021

Archive.Today, Oct. 3 Instagram post, Oct. 14, 2021

VigiAccess, home page, accessed Oct. 14, 2021

Uppsala Monitoring Center, Members of the WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring, Oct. 6, 2021

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

PolitiFact, "European database does not prove the COVID-19 vaccines are lethal," March 31, 2021

PolitiFact, Federal VAERS database is a critical tool for researchers, but a breeding ground for misinformation, May 3, 2021

CDC, Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination, Oct. 13, 2021

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WHO database is not proof that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful

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