A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:
No, COVID-19 vaccine deaths do not outnumber virus deaths
Claim: Data shows that COVID-19 vaccines are more deadly than the virus itself.
The facts: An article shared widely on social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Telegram, misrepresents data from Scotland to falsely conclude that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is more dangerous than getting the virus. In fact, reports of death resulting from COVID-19 vaccination are rare while more than 4 million people worldwide have died from COVID-19. Yet the article claims “more people have died due to the Covid-19 vaccine in 8 months than people who have died of Covid-19 in 18 months.” This bogus claim rests on U.K. data presented without proper context, according to an Associated Press analysis confirmed by medical experts. The article cites data from Scotland’s national public health agency that shows that between Dec. 2020 and June 2021, 5,522 people died within 28 days of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. It compares that number to a report from the National Records of Scotland showing that between March 2020 and July 2021, 704 people who had no pre-existing conditions died of COVID-19 in Scotland. But using those figures alone leaves out key context. Public Health Scotland explains that though 5,522 people did die within 28 days of receiving a vaccine, that number includes “all recorded deaths due to any cause and does not refer to deaths caused by the vaccine itself.” The agency adds that this tally of coincidental post-vaccine deaths is actually lower than the 8,718 deaths that would be expected based on average monthly death rates in Scotland.
COVID-19 vaccines don’t destroy T cells or weaken immune system
Claim: A study from the Francis Crick Institute in London found that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine destroys a type of white blood cell called the T cell and weakens the immune system.
The facts: The vaccine doesn’t destroy T cells or weaken the immune system. On the contrary, it generates a strong T cell response and boosts immunity, according to experts. Articles spreading on social media this week misrepresent the Francis Crick Institute study, which looked at the ability of COVID-19 vaccines to produce neutralizing antibodies against viral variants and did not examine T cells. “Our work to date has not studied T cells at all,” Francis Crick Institute researcher and study author Dr. David Bauer told the AP in an email. “All research published to date shows that the Pfizer (and other) vaccines generate a strong, positive, protective T-cell response against SARS-CoV-2.” Outside experts confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccines don’t destroy or damage T cells.
Video shows airstrike in Gaza, not explosion
Claim: Video shows the second explosion outside Afghanistan’s Kabul airport on Thursday near Baron Hotel.
The facts: As social media users began sharing photos and footage of Thursday’s deadly attack at Kabul’s airport, several old images and videos were shared as new. One video showing an airstrike tinting a night sky orange in Gaza, which has appeared repeatedly online since at least Aug. 21, circulated widely with false claims it showed Thursday’s second explosion in Kabul. “#BREAKING : Second explosion hit Baron Hotel near #Kabul airport where Americans were rescued last week,” one Twitter user wrote alongside the video. But the video shows an airstrike in Gaza, according to several news reports and social media posts with the video shared days before the Kabul attacks. The open source intelligence network Aurora Intel and news outlets including Al Jazeera shared the photo online on Aug. 21 with captions explaining it showed an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.