EU agency data does not show 30k COVID-19 vaccine fatalities
CLAIM: Data from the European Medicines Agency shows more than 30,000 “fatalities” and over 1 million adverse reactions caused by COVID-19 vaccines.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The agency’s EudraVigilance database tracks possible side effects of medications — including vaccines — by allowing medical professionals in the European Union to report when patients experience a “medical event” after taking them. This information is not verified by the agency and the data doesn’t prove the events were caused by the medication, the EMA told The Associated Press.
THE FACTS: The Gateway Pundit, a conservative website, makes the claim in the headline of an article about the data: “European Medicines Agency Data Shows 1,163,356 Adverse Drug Reactions and 30,551 Fatalities by COVID-19 Vaccinations.” The article has been widely shared on Facebook over the past week.
The article cites data through Nov. 13 from EudraVigilance and lists various illnesses reported by COVID-19 vaccine recipients in the EU. It also lists the number of reported fatalities tied to each illness.
The article does note that these are “suspected” side effects, but the headline circulating on social media does not include that caveat, and is therefore misleading and misinterprets the data.
An EMA spokesperson confirmed to the AP that EudraVigilance only tracks “medical events that have been observed following the use of a medicine, but which are not necessarily related to or 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,” said EMA spokesperson Zala Grudnik in a statement.
“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,” the statement continued.
The agency’s objective, Grudnik added, “is not to confirm individual reports of side effects, but to arrive at firm conclusions on the safety of a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The most common side effects seen with the four COVID-19 vaccines approved in the EU — those made by Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca — “are usually mild or moderate and get better within a few days after vaccination,” Grudnik said.
The United States counterpart to EudraVigilance is the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, which is run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
Similar misinformation has spread online by sharing cases reported to VAERS, which, like EudraVigilance, only monitors suspected side effects from vaccines, but does not determine any conclusive links.
The Gateway Pundit did not respond to AP’s request for comment Friday.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.