Online discourse about alleged New Zealand COVID-19 vaccine death data leak persists

Earlier this month, reports claimed that a lead database administrator for New Zealand’s public health ministry leaked COVID-19 vaccine mortality data, revealing an allegedly high death count linked to certain vaccine batches. Online conversations about these reports have persisted in English and in Spanish. Social media users are continuing to share concerns about vaccine safety and spread additional false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, including the claim that Moderna and Pfizer gave employees different COVID-19 vaccines from the ones that were available to the public.

Risk level: Low

Recommendation: These types of claims show how vaccine opponents misinterpret data to make false claims about vaccine safety and often spread multiple false claims at once. Debunking messaging may emphasize that verified data from New Zealand and worldwide show that COVID-19 vaccines have not caused excess deaths in any age group. Given the recent COVID-19 waves, the more likely cause of recent deaths is COVID-19 infection. The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone six months and older. Staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines reduces the risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization, death, and long COVID.