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Pfizer coronavirus vaccines before being administered. (AP) Pfizer coronavirus vaccines before being administered. (AP)

Pfizer coronavirus vaccines before being administered. (AP)

Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu
By Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu January 17, 2024

COVID-19 vaccines saved lives, did not cause 17 million deaths

If Your Time is short

  • The 17 million figure comes from research that experts have said is flawed because it counts excess deaths during the COVID-19 vaccine’s rollout without accounting for deaths from the virus.

  • Multiple studies show the COVID-19 vaccines saved lives.

  • No spin, just facts you can trust. Here's how we do it.

Three years after the first COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out, harmful misinformation about their effects persists on social media.

On Instagram, a user shared a screenshot of a post on X by the Tucker Carlson Network that says, "17 million deaths from the COVID vax?" It also says, "Bret Weinstein tells Tucker Carlson, ‘I saw a credible estimate of something like 17 million deaths globally.’" It includes a screenshot from former Fox News host Carlson’s interview with Weinstein, an author.

The Jan. 9 Instagram post’s caption said, "I don’t know how accurate this is, but what I do know is (the COVID-19 vaccine) has destroyed the lives of millions and all by design." The claim was shared by an Instagram account that has previously shared anti-vaccine posts.

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

Medical experts and the World Health Organization agree that COVID-19 vaccines reduced the number of people who would have died from the coronavirus and did not cause widespread deaths. 

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In a separate Jan. 6 post on X, Weinstein attributed the 17 million figure to research led by Denis Rancourt, a Canadian academic with links to anti-vaccine groups. Rancourt’s study has been described as flawed because it counts all excess deaths that occurred during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and points to the vaccine as the cause of those deaths. It accounts for neither the deaths from the coronavirus itself nor the vaccination status of those who died. 

Rancourt has previously written that "there was no pandemic" and describes government pandemic control measures as "a massive multi-pronged state and iatrogenic attack against populations, and against societal support structures, which caused all the excess mortality, in every jurisdiction."

COVID 19-vaccines are "safe and effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. "Vaccination remains the safest strategy for avoiding hospitalizations, long-term health outcomes, and death."

An October 2023 study by researchers at Brown University and the University of Southern California found that "the vaccines saved 2.4 million lives in 141 countries." In Europe alone, vaccines saved at least 1.4 million lives, the WHO said in a study released this week. Other researchers estimate 20 million lives were saved globally in the vaccine rollout’s first year.

We rate the claim that there have been 17 million deaths from the COVID-19 vaccines False.

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COVID-19 vaccines saved lives, did not cause 17 million deaths

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