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FACTCHECK

Debunked: No, there hasn't been a 21% rise in deaths due to the Covid-19 vaccine

A clip of the artist Kevin Sharkey has been shared widely on social media apps in recent weeks.

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A CLAIM THAT suggests that Covid-19 vaccines have been responsible for a 21% rise in excess deaths in Ireland and around the world is not true.

A clip of the artist Kevin Sharkey has been shared widely on social media apps in recent weeks.

The video appears to have originated on TikTok – where it has since been deleted. However it has been re-posted on Facebook, where it has been liked 300 times and shared 504 times.

In the video, Sharkey first reads from an online article with the headline “First major world politician apologises to the unvaccinated ‘you were right, we were wrong’”.

While the article itself is not shown in the video, the text Sharkey reads from mimics the text from this article from thepeoplesvoice.tv.

The website in question regularly shares misinformation and conspiracy theories.

While there is no date on Sharkey’s video, the article in question was published on 18 June 2023. The article concerns an apology made by Danielle Smith, the premier of Alberta, a province in western Canada.

However, the article contains misleading information and improper context. While it was written in June, the comments were made by Smith in October 2022, soon after she assumed office.

According to CTV News, Smith made the comments following her address to the United Conservative Party members at their annual general meeting. She said: 

“I’m deeply sorry for anyone who was inappropriately subjected to discrimination as a result of their vaccine status.

I am deeply sorry for any government employee that was fired from their job because of their vaccine status, and I welcome them back if they want to come back.

Smith did not issue the apology due to any new information on the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine, as suggested by the article. Her position before she became premier was similar to before she assumed power. She was strongly against vaccine mandates and restrictions on the unvaccinated. 

In May, Smith apologised after an interview surfaced from 2021 – before she became premier – during which she compared those who got the Covid-19 vaccine to followers of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.

Excess deaths

In the video, Sharkey talks through the article, before offering his own commentary saying that the “Irish public are owed a heartfelt and genuine apology” from the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.

Sharkey then goes on to claim that there is “mounting evidence, not just from the full hospitals, not just from the ambulances everywhere, not just from the 21% increase in deaths which we’re now witnessing.

“21% increase. That should be on the front page of every newspaper in the world, but it’s happening all over the world and everyone is just shrugging their shoulders and saying ‘oh wonder why that could be?’”

Sharkey then says “a clue?” Before pointing to his arm and making an injecting motion, suggesting an increase in deaths is linked to the Covid-19 vaccine.

The facts

It is unclear where Sharkey gets the 21% figure from, and if he is referring specifically to Ireland or “all over the world” as he later states.

It was reported in February that there were 25.4% more deaths in the Republic in December compared to the average number of deaths for the same month each year between 2016 and 2019.

Most recent figures for May this year, found a 13.3% increase in death compared to the average number of deaths for the same month each year between 2016 and 2019.

These are significant increases. However, there is no evidence that they are linked to a person’s vaccination status.

In response to a Parliamentary Question in March, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the excess deaths in December could be linked to the high levels of influenza cases and hospitalisations that were seen last winter.

“Other important factors that may impact excess mortality include the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, circulation of other respiratory viruses, impacts of cold weather, and an ageing population,” he said.

Donnelly also said that from 2020 onwards the data from the CSO was based on “a web-scraped series from rip.ie”. 

The comparison baseline (2016-2019) is built using official data on registered deaths. Caution is required in interpreting this indicator.

 No link to vaccine

However, numerous studies have shown that there is no link to vaccine uptake and excess deaths. In general, studies show that vaccination helps to prevent deaths from Covid-19.

In the United States, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), point to the efficacy of a Covid-19 vaccine in preventing death from Covid-19.

According to the CDC:

Linked vaccination and mortality data show that despite changes in circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants over time, among older adults aged ≥65 years, unvaccinated individuals continue to have a much greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than individuals vaccinated with at least a primary series

The CDC also said that based on its research vaccinated people “are at no greater risk of death from non-COVID causes, than unvaccinated people”. 

In the UK, mortality statistics up to the end of last year show that unvaccinated people were more likely to die than vaccinated people.

This data does not show that the vaccine is stopping people from dying, but if the vaccine was causing excess deaths figures would likely be the other way around.

A small percentage of people have experienced adverse health effects as a result of a Covid-19 vaccine. Figures from England up to the end of last year, show that 59 people died as a result of complications arising from the vaccine.

However, these deaths represent a tiny fraction of the number of people who received the vaccine, and are nowhere near the 21% figures given by Sharkey. 

In Ireland, latest figures show that 9,037 have died from Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic up until the end of June. 

In general, there is no causal link between a spike in excess deaths and the Covid-19 vaccine. The claim is misleading and false. 

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