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Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 4°C
FACTCHECK
Debunked: Conspiracy theory 'documentary' repeats long-disproven claims about Covid vaccines
‘Died Suddenly’ is heavy on gruesome medical imagery, but light on facts

A CONSPIRACY THEORY movie that has been viewed millions of times contains dozens of baseless and long-disproven claims to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines are a weapon that is being used to depopulate the planet.

The film has been shared in many Europe countries, including in Ireland, by conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccine campaigners and is one of a number of recent ‘documentaries’ which contain misinformation about the Covid pandemic.

The thesis of the film, ‘Died Suddenly’, is that if you cut open dead bodies, you can find various disgusting clots. However, it attempts to connect these clots to Covid-19 vaccines, using insinuations, long-debunked claims, and heavily edited snippets of video to imply that the vaccines are lethal weapons.

As the film features dozens of claims, many of which have already been debunked by fact checking groups such as The Journal, we will not go through each one in detail.

Instead, we will briefly outline some of the main claims and why they are wrong.  

Bill Gates & depopulation

The claim: Bill Gates publicly said that vaccines will kill enough people to reduce the world’s population by 10-15% (timestamp 5.45)

The facts: In a 2010 TED speech, Gates said that with better vaccines, health care, and reproductive health services, the world population would grow by only 1.3 billion people by 2050, 10%-15% lower than it might otherwise. This projection is based on the hypothesis that people have smaller families when child mortality is reduced. 

This claim at the start of the film has already been debunked by ReutersFactcheck.org, and Politifact, amongst others. 

Unexplained mortality

Claim: There has been a dramatic, unexplained increase in people between the ages of 18 and 64 dying, which may indicate that the vaccine is a weapon (timestamp 20.29).

The facts: There was a 40% increase in mortality in 18- to 64-year-olds, according to one life insurance CEO in Indiana in the United States. However that same CEO told AP that about two thirds of these deaths were explained by Covid-19, while the rest were likely exacerbated by Covid-19 or deferred medical treatments. Statistics provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that excess deaths had shot up in 2020, long before the vaccine rollout. 

Eurostat figures show that excess deaths in the EU increased in 2020, reaching a peak of 40% in November, before the vaccine rollout took place, largely in 2021 and afterwards (Ireland hit its excess mortality peak of 38% months earlier, in April, 2020).

This claim has already been debunked by the AP.

Vaccine trials

The claim: The Pfizer clinical trial showed that the company’s Covid-19 vaccine killed more people than died in the placebo group (timestamp 34.10).

The facts: More than 43,000 people were enrolled in the trial of the Safety and Efficacy of the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine, and were monitored for about a month. Half the group was aged 52 or older, which means that some deaths would be expected in the trial due to random chance.

Four deaths were reported in the placebo group, while two were reported in the vaccine group.

A six-month follow-up included more deaths (18 vaccinated, 16 unvaccinated), however none of these deaths was considered to be related to the vaccine by investigators and no clear pattern was evident in the causes of the deaths.

This claim has already been debunked by Reuters and the AP.  

VAERS

The claim: The US system for tracking adverse reactions to vaccines, VAERS, has reported less than 1% of deaths that occurred following vaccinations (timestamp 44.38).

The facts: Healthcare providers in the US are legally required to report serious adverse events that occur following Covid-19 vaccinations, including death, even when there is no reason to think the vaccine was involved, such as cases where the patient died in a car crash or by gunshot. The system is also open for other people to report adverse reactions, including patients, their families, or any other member of the public.

As a speaker makes this claim in the film, the screen shows part of a report monitoring US patients to see if they had any medical events in the 30 days following a vaccine. A highlighted line reads: “Likewise, fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported”.

However, a researcher on that paper has said that the detail was misinterpreted, and that the unreported events included sore arms, fainting, or changes in lab results.

Serious medical events are more likely to be reported, as clinicians often wrongly believe  minor events like sore arms don’t need to be reported, subsequent research shows.

These claims have already been debunked by The JournalReuters, and factcheck.org

Miscarriages

The claim: 83% of pregnant women who were vaccinated against Covid-19 subsequently had a miscarriage (timestamp 56.44)

The facts: This figure is taken from a table in a Pfizer report which outlines a select group of 270 reported adverse events that occurred in vaccinated women.

No outcome was reported for 238 pregnancies. Of the remaining 32, more than 80% (28) resulted in miscarriage or death shortly after birth.

However, this was not a random selection of women who became pregnant after taking the Covid-19, but a tiny select group of people who reported adverse events. 

There is no evidence that vaccines harm pregnancies (the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a very thoroughly cited factsheet here), and the HSE recommends that pregnant women take vaccines, as catching Covid-19 is linked to increased rates of miscarriage.

This claim has already been debunked by The JournalReuters, and Health Feedback.

Waterloo stillbirths

The claim: One hospital in Waterloo, Canada, had seen 83 stillbirths in a few months, many times more than they’d usually see in a year (timestamp 59.25).

The facts: The head of the hospital and the regional health authority denied the claim and the hospital’s social media pages said there was little change in the stillbirth rate for the area (which were lower than the national average). No source for the claim has ever been provided.

Statistics from a pregnancy and child registry show that unvaccinated women who became pregnant were slightly more likely to have a stillbirth, compared with women who were fully vaccinated. 

This claim has already been debunked by FactCheck.org.

Australia birthrates

The claim: Vaccines caused Australia’s birth rate to decline by 70% (timestamp 1.01.20).

The facts: While the Australian birth rate had hit a record low during 2020, the first full year of the Covid-19 pandemic, the drop was about 6%, not 70%, and this drop occurred before Covid-19 vaccines were rolled out in the country.

The 70% figure cited appears to come from a debunked claim by an Australian politician who did not realise that most births are not immediately counted in statistics, so recent months always appear to have dramatically low birth rates, as many babies still have to be registered. 

The fertility rate had “bounced back” in 2021, as vaccines were distributed in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This claim has already been debunked by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

 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

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