By: Devika Kandelwal
September 17 2021
This claim misrepresents unverified data to suggest that vaccines caused 1.18 million adverse reactions. This is false.
This claim misrepresents unverified data to suggest that vaccines caused 1.18 million adverse reactions. This is false. The Daily Expose, a conspiracy news site, published an article on September 14, 2021, titled, "13 reasons why you should not allow your child to get the COVID-19 Vaccine." One of the claims it made was that "There have been at least 1.18 million Adverse Reactions to the COVID-19 Vaccines in the U.K. alone." To support their claim, the Daily Expose presents data from the Yellow Card Scheme in an entirely misleading way. The Yellow Card scheme was introduced in 1964 by Dr. Bill Inman and is governed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The scheme accumulates and monitors data on safety concerns, including "suspected side effects or adverse incidents involving medicines and medical devices." Like the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in the United States, the system now relies on "voluntary reporting of suspected side effects" by public members, including patients, pharmacists, and parents. Therefore, while anybody can self-report suspected side effects through the Yellow Card, the website clearly states, "reported events are not always proven side effects." The MHRA says that when millions of people, including those with an underlying health condition and older people, get vaccinated, some natural adverse events occur regardless of the vaccine. Just because people report that a certain event occurred after vaccination does not mean that it was caused due to the vaccine. Correlation does not mean causation. However, the Daily Expose chose not to include this important context. It reported a raw and unassessed number from the website. The reports that the Daily Expose cites all contain this introduction: "A report of a suspected ADR [adverse reaction] to the Yellow Card scheme does not necessarily mean that it was caused by the vaccine, only that the reporter has a suspicion it may have. Underlying or previously undiagnosed illness unrelated to vaccination can also be factors in such reports. The relative number and nature of reports should therefore not be used to compare the safety of the different vaccines." The Daily Expose chose to omit this framing to make the number of adverse reactions seem extremely high, and to argue that the vaccine must have caused all of these reactions. They also say that the "MHRA state that an estimated 10% of adverse reactions are actually reported to the Yellow Card scheme, meaning the true figure of adverse reactions is immensely higher," further misleading people. 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.