Lancet study did not show 74 percent of deaths were caused by COVID-19 vaccinations

By: Nikolaj Kristensen
July 11 2023

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Lancet study did not show 74 percent of deaths were caused by COVID-19 vaccinations


The Verdict False

The study was not peer-reviewed or published in The Lancet. The methodology did not support conclusions of a causal link between deaths and vaccines.

Claim ID 5d75a71e


On July 6, 2023, an article with the headline "Lancet Study on Covid Vaccine Autopsies Finds 74% Were Caused by Vaccine – Study is Removed Within 24 Hours" was published on The Daily Sceptic, a website with a history of disseminating false and misleading information, and subsequently circulated on social media. 

According to the article, a study of autopsies published in the esteemed medical journal The Lancet was quickly taken down after it showed that 74 percent of the examined deaths were caused by COVID-19 vaccinations.

However, the study was only a preprint and didn't make it past the submission stage for The Lancet. It was not peer-reviewed and was removed because the methodology used in the study did not support the study's conclusions. 

In Fact

On July 5, 2023, the preprint paper was posted on "Preprints with The Lancet," a section of the site where content of interest can be identified before publication. The posted papers aren't Lancet studies, as The Daily Sceptic claims the preprint to be.

A disclaimer on the site clarifies that "preprints available here are not Lancet publications or necessarily under review with a Lancet journal. These preprints are early stage research papers that have not been peer-reviewed."

The preprint was taken down on July 6, 2023. The site removed the preprint with the explanation that "the study's conclusions are not supported by the study methodology," adding that it reserves the right to remove a paper if it is determined that it has violated its screening criteria.

In the preprint, the authors state that "the purpose of this systematic review is to investigate possible causal links between COVID-19 vaccine administration and death using autopsies and post-mortem analysis". It concludes that 240 of 325 reviewed deaths were caused either in part or in full by vaccinations.

Mitchell Levine, a professor of medicine and health research methods at McMaster University, explains that a systematic review of "case reports" is not a methodology that can address that research question. Levine told Logically Facts, "Case reports are completely useless for assessing associations, causal or otherwise."

"At a minimum, the systematic review would need to be assessing studies that have at least two arms, one with vaccine exposed persons and the other with non-exposed persons. Alternatively, a case-control study could be constructed, and the comparator group would be people without the fatal outcome," explained Levine. 

He added that case reports are helpful in generating ideas and hypotheses that would then be tested using proper comparative methodologies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. Aside from nine deaths following the Janssen COVID-19 vaccination, the CDC has found no deaths causally associated with COVID-19 vaccination. The Janssen vaccine is believed in rare cases to cause Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS), a serious adverse event involving blood clots in large blood vessels and low platelets that can, in some cases, lead to death.

The Verdict

The study used a methodology that did not support its conclusions of a causal link between vaccination and deaths. It was a preprint that had not gone through peer review and didn't make it past the submission stage for publication in The Lancet. There have been very few cases where deaths have been causally associated with COVID-19 vaccination. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.

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