An image falsely claiming 29,939 people died in Europe due to COVID-19 vaccination has been widely shared in Europe.
For example, on Nov. 26, 2021, a Twitter user posted the image and tweeted in French “more than 10,000 deaths reported to date and more than 3 million adverse reactions in the EU alone.” Before this account was suspended, the post had 428 retweets and 515 likes.
The same image was shared multiple times on Twitter (here and here, for instance) and also on Facebook. It has spread across social media while some European countries have struggled to cope with the fifth wave of COVID-19 cases.
The image shows the logo of EudraVigilance, a system operated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) with a database of alleged adverse reactions to authorized drugs and medicines in clinical trials. Healthcare workers and patients, or their relatives, can use it to report the suspected side effects of a drug, a treatment, or a vaccine.
The EudraVigilance website provides all reports of suspected side effects and deaths following vaccination with Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Janssen – the COVID-19 vaccines allowed in Europe.
With the logo, the image in question seems to indicate EudraVigilance is the source of the number of deaths.
However, the database does not confirm the causes of deaths. It indicates a person passed away sometime after the individual was vaccinated but as the EudraVigilance website states, the data includes suspected side effects that are “not necessarily related to or caused by the medicine.”
It further explains that the cases reflect “the reporter’s observations and opinions” and not the results of medical analyses.
A disclaimer on cases related to COVID-19 vaccination reads:
“The information on this website does not reflect any confirmation of a potential link between the medicine and the observed effect(s).”
The misleading image says at the bottom, when translated to English, “In order to verify our words, you will find a tutorial to perform the calculation at this address” with a link to a website called “Reaction 19.”
The tutorial shows how to access the data, but it skips the part where one must accept the disclaimer stating that the database includes “suspected,” not confirmed, side effects and it does not indicate any causality.
The “Reaction 19” association was created in April 2020 by lawyer Carlo Alberto Brusa. The group says its mission is to defend “people’s rights following the measures taken by the French authorities and by the European Union and even by the world authorities to fight against the ‘pandemic’ of COVID-19” in French.
Its Facebook page has 111,448 subscribers and Alberto’s Twitter account has more than 67,000 followers. The association says it has 15 regional groups throughout France and an Italian group “Reaction 19 Italia”.
Anti-vaccine groups behind
Annie Lab’s investigation reveals that the image in question is taken from a 10-page booklet entitled “Retrouver le bon sens,” which means “Find Common Sense” in English.
The booklet casts doubts on the existence of the pandemic, claims COVID-19 vaccines are responsible for deaths and pericarditis, and questions the effectiveness of wearing masks.
The booklet was also shared in its entirety on Facebook on Nov. 20 by the page “Rodrigues fait sa pub.” While this Facebook page was created in 2014 and claims to promote the economic activity of the merchants of the island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean, it also shares a lot of anti-COVID vaccine content.
In fact, EudraVigilance data are often misused by the anti-vaccine community to demonstrate the supposed danger of inoculation although their claims are often swiftly debunked — for example, by the French media Libération and Le Figaro. International fact checkers like Reuters and AFP also examined similar contents.
Several adverse reactions have been documented since the COVID vaccine deployment around the world, such as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) and Guillain-Barré syndrome, which, in some cases, resulted in fatal outcomes.
According to reports from the Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament (ANSM), the French health authority, there is no known death caused by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines in France as of this writing. The EMA maintains the benefits of the vaccines against COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risks.