Double Check: 'Died suddenly' fact check roundup

By: tori marland&
rachel muller heyndyk&
December 6 2022

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
Double Check: 'Died suddenly' fact check roundup

 By Rachel Muller-Heyndyk and Tori Marland

On November 21, 2022, the pseudoscience documentary "Died Suddenly" premiered on the alt-tech video platform Rumble. The film, produced by former bounty hunter, rapper, and conspiracy media personality Stew Peters, has racked up millions of views worldwide since its release. Peters has called for the execution of Anthony Fauci, and also was also behind "Watch The Water," another conspiracy-laden film that claimed that COVID-19 is derived from artificial snake venom.

Died Suddenly alleges that COVID-19 vaccines have led to the deaths of thousands of young adults as part of a conspiracy to depopulate the earth. It takes its title from a common misinformation technique in anti-COVID-vax circles – finding a series of headlines in which someone "died suddenly," and then asserting, often without evidence, that the vaccine caused the deaths. Through a series of flashing video montages, often accompanied by a classic rock soundtrack, the film makes numerous false and misleading claims about the safety of mRNA vaccines. It misrepresents adverse events data and portrays the pandemic as a planned operation, alluding to the 2020 pseudoscience documentary "Plandemic."

Between November 24 - 25, TikTok videos with the hashtag #diedsuddenly jumped from 4.7 million to 5.8 million views and counting, and the film has spread widely on other social networks, including Twitter and Facebook. The BBC reports that bereaved families have been subjected to online harassment due to the film's release, as social media users falsely connect deaths to mRNA vaccines.

Many of these claims restate or remix existing false narratives about the pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines. The Logically team has addressed, updated, and debunked several specific claims from the film.

FALSE: The Pfizer 'Cumulative Analysis of Post-authorization Adverse Event Reports' proves that the COVID-19 vaccine is dangerous.

One segment of the film focuses on adverse side effects associated with vaccines, claiming that these prove the vaccine is harmful. Data taken from self-reporting databases such as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) or the U.K.'s Yellow Card system has often been misrepresented or misinterpreted by anti-vaxxers and vaccine skeptics. This case is no different: the Pfizer data used in the film has been drawn from these databases, which contain raw, unassessed data. This self-reported data is not verified by health bodies, and thus is not an accurate picture of side effects or adverse events. Such claims have been debunked on numerous occasions. 

Read the full fact check here

FALSE: Johns Hopkins University's 201 Pandemic Exercise predicted the COVID-19 outbreak.

Died Suddenly suggests that a scenario-planning exercise was a "prophecy" for the COVID-19 pandemic. It specifically refers to a planning exercise hosted by Johns Hopkins University in 2019, known as "Event 201." The university released a statement on its website following the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, clarifying that the scenario was fictitious and was explicitly not a prediction. Research institutes and health bodies often use training scenarios like Event 201 to determine preparedness for potential virus outbreaks. These training scenarios are not evidence that pandemics are planned – it shows, instead, that health bodies and research institutes routinely prepare themselves for the possibility of outbreaks. 

Read the full fact check here

FALSE: Bill Gates' TED Talk shows that the COVID-19 vaccine was intended to kill people to combat overpopulation.

Died Suddenly claims that the COVID-19 vaccine was created to combat overpopulation by killing people en masse. It cites Bill Gates' TED Talk "Innovating to Zero" from 2010 as evidence, but takes it wildly out of context to support its false narrative, featuring only a 20-second clip of the 27-minute-long video. In fact, Gates was talking about how better healthcare – including vaccines and reproductive health – can assist in reducing population growth. Although Gates is a popular target for conspiracists, he does not intend to kill people. There is also no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines would be an effective tool for doing so.

Read the full fact check here

MISLEADING: The birth rate in Hungary declined in 2022 due to COVID-19 vaccines.

Although the birth rate has declined in Hungary compared to previous years, there is no evidence this is due to COVID-19 vaccination. The first quarter of 2022 shows an 11.5 percent decrease, but the statistics are only preliminary and provide no details as to the reason behind the decline. Researchers have suggested that the decline could result from government policies aimed at incentivizing families; this leads to a temporary increase which is then swiftly followed by a more dramatic decrease. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility, as the film claims. 

Read the full fact check here

FALSE: The U.S. Defense Medical Epidemiology Database shows a dramatic increase in medical diagnoses following the vaccine in 2021.

Died Suddenly cites erroneous data from the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED) to claim that the vaccine's "toxic spike protein" has dramatically increased pregnancy, neurological issues, and cancers. PolitiFact debunked the claim earlier in the year, stating that comparisons of DMED data from 2016-2020 to 2021 – used to claim that medical diagnoses in military personnel dramatically increased after the COVID-19 vaccination – were inaccurate, as "the 2016-2020 numbers used to determine a five-year average were underreported." Claims about the dangers of the “spike protein” contained in COVID-19 vaccines often omit the useful context that the COVID-19 virus also has this protein in much larger quantities. 

Read the full fact check here.

FALSE: The COVID-19 vaccine causes blood clots.

The film uses anecdotal evidence from embalmers at funeral homes, claiming they had found blood clots never seen before post-mortem and that these resulted from COVID-19 vaccines. In fact, blood clots caused by vaccines are incredibly rare – manufacturer Johnson & Johnson saw four cases per million doses – and according to medical expert Nickolaus Klupp, the clots depicted in the film appear to be post-mortem clots caused by refrigeration in the morgue. 

Read the full fact check here.

FALSE: Argentina's poster boy for vaccinations "died suddenly" due to COVID-19 vaccine complications.

A four-year-old poster boy featured in Argentina's vaccine campaign died from bilateral pneumonia, not due to COVID-19 vaccination. His death was reported by the Western Journal with the phrase "dies suddenly." This headline was then shared and co-opted by advocates of the film, who spread screenshots of the headline along with the hashtag #diedsuddenly on social media. 

Read the full fact check here

FALSE: Google suppressed its search for "died suddenly" to hide information about the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

According to Google, searches for the terms "died suddenly," "died suddenly movie," and "died suddenly documentary" peaked during the week following the film's release on November 21. As part of Google's efforts to combat misinformation, the search engine appended a disclaimer to any search results from November 23, advising the user to check the source. There is no evidence that Google suppressed results for any search terms related to the film. 

Read the full fact check here

FALSE: COVID-19 vaccines are causing stillbirths.

A significant portion of Died Suddenly is dedicated to the topic of stillbirths, claiming that COVID-19 vaccines are linked to an increase in the number of stillbirths. There is no evidence to support these claims, and in fact, there is a large body of scientific research that fully refutes them. The data used by the film is also a misrepresentation of VAERS data, a common tactic among anti-vaxxers. Studies have also shown that contracting COVID-19 carries a high risk of stillbirths

Read the full fact check here

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before