New study used to falsely link COVID-19 vaccines to excess deaths

A new study published in BMJ assessed data from 47 countries from Our World in Data between 2020 and 2022, finding a total of three million reported excess deaths, with 2021 having the highest number of reported deaths. The study concluded that “excess mortality has remained high in the Western World for three consecutive years, despite the implementation of COVID-19 containment measures and COVID-19 vaccines.” Vaccine opponents are misrepresenting the study to claim that COVID-19 vaccines caused excess deaths. 

Recommendation: Social media posts misrepresenting this study attempt to undermine the public’s perception of the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Debunking messaging may emphasize that the study provides no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines caused excess deaths in any country; it only demonstrates that excess deaths increased in the first year of the pandemic, continued increasing in the second year, and declined but remained high in the third year. The year 2021 was the deadliest of the pandemic—and in U.S. history—with over 400,000 COVID-19 deaths. The study did not analyze deaths by vaccination status, but federal data shows that about 80 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths in 2021 were of unvaccinated people. Numerous large-scale global studies have shown that higher COVID-19 vaccination rates correlate with lower excess mortality. The study also did not account for COVID-19 deaths, which were the leading driver of excess deaths during the study period. COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and determined to be safe. The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, death, and long COVID.