Sweden Democrats MP makes misleading claims that a video of news headlines proves COVID-19 vaccines are a hoax

By: Emmi Kivi
October 5 2023

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Sweden Democrats MP makes misleading claims that a video of news headlines proves COVID-19 vaccines are a hoax

Screenshots of viral X posts spreading misleading claims that COVID-19 vaccines are inneffective.


The Verdict Misleading

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The video lacks context and provides no evidence of a hoax or ineffectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Claim ID c8ac9837


Kent Ekeroth, a senior MP of the populist right-wing Sweden Democrats Party, shared a video of various headlines appearing to be about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. The headlines shown in the video suggest a story of a decline in COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness over time, decreasing from 100 percent. Ekeroth reposted the video from a post by Elon Musk and captioned it, “Yep, the COVID vaccines were a big hoax. Thankfully, clear-sighted enough not to take the shit” (translated from Swedish). The original video has circulated across multiple social media platforms.

In Sweden, 66.6 percent of people aged over 18 have received at least three doses of COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Public Health Agency of Sweden. During the COVID-19 pandemic, several representatives of the Sweden Democrats party opposed the vaccine against the agency’s recommendations. 

Reporting on vaccine effects varies depending on who conducted the studies, how and when they were conducted, and which variant was studied. The video provides no context to the performance or success rate of the vaccines. Neither does a video with arbitrary news headlines serve as evidence of a vaccine hoax. 

In fact

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. They undergo extensive clinical trials and must reach high safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality standards before approval.

Variables such as the size and age of the test group studied and circulating variant all affect the impact of the vaccine, important context which is entirely missing from the video. For example, a headline in the video, “The Pfizer Vaccine Is 100 Percent Effective for People This Age, Study Says,” only refers to a study that exclusively examined the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in preventing confirmed COVID-19 cases among a 12–15 age group in a small trial conducted in early 2021.

The video mixes study results from clinical trials with real-life situations – the difference between “effectiveness” and “efficacy.” Professor Shahid Jameel from Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, told Logically Facts, “Effectiveness is not the same as efficacy. Efficacy is what is determined in a clinical trial, which is done in carefully controlled conditions over a specified period of time. Effectiveness is what happens in a real-life situation.” Direct comparisons or generalizations between research results are challenging without consistently duplicating the same protocol for all vaccines.

No vaccine provides 100 percent protection. Although many focus on COVID-19 vaccines halting transmissions or getting symptoms, the priority is how these vaccines protect against severe illness and death. Another headline shown in the video reads, “Health Ministry says COVID vaccine is only 40% effective at halting transmissions.” As reported by the Times of Israel, the numbers stated that the COVID vaccine is only 39 percent effective at preventing transmission but more than 91 percent effective at preventing severe cases and 88 percent preventing hospitalization.

Professor Jameel clarified to Logically Facts, “Most approved vaccines, including the COVID vaccines, do not protect from infection beyond a few weeks after vaccination. But all protect from severe disease and mortality, albeit to different extents.” 

A spokesperson for the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research affirmed to Logically Facts, "The main factor that scientists and pharmaceutical companies have to keep up with is that the virus changes shape over time, and so vaccines can become less effective at preventing infection over time. They remain extremely effective at preventing death and hospitalization." Therefore, context is vital in reporting on the vaccine effects.

The verdict

The video provides no context on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, which may alter according to various circumstances and over time. No vaccine offers 100 percent protection, but the COVID-19 vaccines are still effective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. The video of arbitrary news headlines is not evidence of a vaccine hoax. Therefore, we marked the claim as misleading.

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