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Debunked: No evidence to support claim that 100 people a day attending CUH due to vaccine side-effects

The claim has been labelled “entirely spurious” by the Clinical Lead of the hospital’s Emergency Department.

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A VIDEO POSTED on an anti-vaccine Facebook page claims that over 100 people are admitted to Cork University Hospital (CUH) every day suffering from negative reactions to Covid-19 vaccinations.

The claim surfaced on the ‘Corruption Awareness Ireland’ Facebook page this week. A video post on the page, which has more than 50,000 followers, stated that data had been provided by a “whistleblower” in CUH who “has information about the admittance procedure” in the hospital.

The whistleblower is alleged to have said that that nine to 11 people report to them “every single day” with adverse reactions to vaccines against Covid-19. It is further claimed that 12 other staff members in the hospital are seeing a similar number of patients each day, adding up to more than 100 people per day.

“That’s to one individual. Now there are 12 such individuals in the emergency department at the CUH in Cork. So, well over 100 people every single day are reporting adverse effects from taking these so-called vaccines. That’s a shocking figure,” a speaker in the video said.

The video has been viewed over 8,600 times and has racked up more than 1,200 likes since it was published earlier this week.

This allegation has not been proven. A specialist working at the hospital dismissed the claim as untrue and nonsensical.

The evidence

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) notes that all vaccines have some side effects, the vast majority of which are mild to moderate in nature and do not require hospital treatment. This is supported by research from across the world.

The claims in the video were dismissed by Professor Conor Deasy, Clinical Lead in Emergency Medicine at CUH.

“The numbers quoted in the Facebook video do not make any sense and are entirely spurious – perhaps the script writer has himself been provided misinformation,” Deasy said.

“It is exceptionally rare for us in the Emergency Department to diagnose a vaccine related condition that requires admission to hospital.

The vast majority of patients who present to the Emergency Department with concerns that they may have a vaccine related condition are discharged by our doctors with reassurance.

Professor Deasy noted that people sometimes attribute their symptoms to the vaccine or wonder whether the jab is associated with their symptoms because they received the shot in the previous days or weeks.

The HPRA said the most commonly reported suspected side-effects from the vaccines are chills, fever, tiredness, dizziness, headache, muscle pain, other pain (non-specific) and nausea.

CUH said in a statement that the information in the video is “not accurate”. The hospital did not provide any information on how many, if any, people have been admitted to CUH due to adverse reactions to Covid-19 vaccines. 

However, this does not mean that 100 people per day are attending CUH due to vaccine side-effects – rather, it simply means that no data is available.

The HPRA has said it does not have access to hospital data but it does operate a system where the public and healthcare professionals can log suspected side effects from a Covid-19 vaccine.

It also includes any reports it receives from the companies responsible for the vaccines.

The HPRA’s updates detail limitations with the system, which include that:
  • It receives reports “based on suspicion that an adverse experience may be associated with vaccination”, which “does not mean the vaccine caused the adverse experience”
  • “Reports may describe coincidental events, which have occurred post-vaccination, but would have occurred even if vaccination had not taken place (e.g. they may be due to an underlying medical condition, or be signs and symptoms of another illness)”
  • Because reporting a suspected side effect is voluntary, “not all suspected side effects will be reported”
  • “An increased number of reports is expected for Covid-19 vaccines, given public interest as well as HPRA calls encouraging reporting. This is known as stimulated reporting.”

The authority emphasised that just because symptoms were reported to them by people who had recently had a vaccination this does not mean vaccines caused the adverse effects.

It says the reports it receives are referred to as “suspected” side-effects as a result..

In its latest safety update, published yesterday, the HPRA said the most recent statistics show that there have been a total of 13,529 reports of suspected side effects from Covid-19 vaccines in Ireland.

The figures, which have been reported since the start of the vaccine rollout earlier this year, were gathered up to 3 August. At that point almost six million vaccine doses (to be specific, 5,948,704 vaccine doses) had been administered in Ireland.

As noted above, the HPRA said the vast majority of side effects are mild to moderate in nature and do not require hospitalisation.

The HSE has previously said that “serious side effects, like a severe allergic reaction,are extremely rare”.

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The most high profile side-effect associated with the vaccines has been extremely rare blood clots in combination with low platelets. In its latest update the HPRA said it has received eight reports of suspected cases of the rare syndrome.

In May, the European Medicines Agency said that unusual blood clots should also be listed as a “very rare side effect” of the Astrazeneca vaccine after a review of evidence by its safety committee.

However, the overwhelming majority of people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine did not experience blood clotting.

Scientific evidence to date shows that vaccines against Covid-19 are overwhelmingly safe and that they reduce serious illness and rates of hospitalisation due to the virus.

You can read more about data supporting the use of vaccines here.

The statistics described in the ‘Corruption Awareness Ireland’ video cannot be proven, but data from both the HPRA and international research shows that the majority of those with suspected side-effects suffer mild symptoms.

Although there are no official figures available, it is very unlikely indeed that hundreds of people every week are attending a single hospital for suspected vaccine side-effects.

CUH has said that this is not the case and a specialist who is based at the hospital has described the claims as untrue and nonsensical.

“The bottom line is that it is exceptionally rare for any patient to be admitted with a Covid vaccine related issue, so rare that when it happens it is a reportable event and these events are ultimately in the public domain through the adverse event reporting system,” Professor Deasy concluded.

The Journal’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here
Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie.

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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