Lisa Marie Presley and Jeff Beck, victims of the anti-Covid vaccine? The phrase “deceased suddenly” pops up on social media whenever a celebrity dies and blames their death on the vaccine. Despite the complete lack of scientific basis, the rumor is a huge success.
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The Covid vaccination has been a major subject for misinformation since it was introduced in 2021, and claims linking vaccines to sudden deaths have seen a surge in virality since the release of a video titled “Died Suddenly” in late November .
His shocking images of young people breaking down for no apparent reason, interspersed with fear-inducing comments about vaccines, had garnered more than 9 million views on the Rumble video platform as of Jan. 17.
The day after its release, the hashtag “diedsuddenly” exploded on Twitter, jumping from 4,000 tweets on November 20 to over 76,000 on November 22.
“Every time a tweet makes the connection between death and the vaccine, it’s the guaranteed buzz,” analyzes French sociologist of science and belief Romy Sauvayre (University of Clermont Auvergne), interviewed by AFP.
“An ancient antivax technique,” says American oncologist David Gorski on the Sciencebasedmedicine website to combat medical misinformation, while recalling that “there is no evidence of a correlation, much less a causal link” between the vaccine and these sudden outbreaks there are deaths.
Sudden deaths of athletes, lists of deceased doctors… The examples of publications attributing deaths to vaccines are countless and have led to numerous AFP verification articles in recent weeks.
While very rare side effects have been reported, pharmacovigilance shows no waves of sudden deaths from vaccines, which scientists confirm.
False information embellishing the issue of sudden death seems inexhaustible given that the majority of the world’s population is now vaccinated.
For anti-vaccines, Ms Sauvayre explains, these infox are part of a “confirmation bias”: “People who already[von der Schädlichkeit des Impfstoffs, Anm. d. Red.]are convinced will see their conviction confirmed”.[delanocivitéduvaccinNDLR)vontvoirconfirmerleurcroyance»[delanocivitéduvaccinNDLR)vontvoirconfirmerleurcroyance»
Vaccines have always been the subject of unfounded fears, she recalls: “The one for hepatitis has been blamed for causing multiple sclerosis, the one for measles for causing autism.”
With messenger RNA vaccines, “we are entering another dimension: they are suspected of genetically altering and killing.” The vaccine would be used “to reduce the world’s population,” netizens say.
So much so that some claim that the excess mortality observed in France in 2022 is due to vaccines. If Insee’s excess mortality observed by anti-vaccines is confirmed, it is in no way related to the anti-Covid vaccine, but to the virus itself, which according to the WHO has caused 6.6 million deaths worldwide.
While INSEE on Tuesday announced that in 2022 France recorded its lowest birth rate since 1946, netizens also saw the brand of vaccine responsible for a “decline in fertility”, even “miscarriages”. Here, too, claims are repeatedly denied by many doctors.
“Death remains surrounded by a certain mystery, with a certain philosophical imprint,” notes Sebastian Dieguez, specialist in conspiracy at the University of Friborg (Switzerland), adding that the conspiracy does not always surf the vagueness surrounding the causes of death easy to explain”.
Stringing together examples of deaths to link them to vaccines with no evidence, he says, represents “a never-ending vein” of misinformation.
Above all, the death of stars has always been a breeding ground for speculation, the sociologist notes, using the example of the legends surrounding the early death of Elvis Presley.
After American soccer player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest in the middle of a game in early January, mentions on Twitter quadrupled, according to the American NGO CCDH (Centre for the Fight Against Hate Online).
“Literally seconds after the death of Lisa Marie Presley or Jeff Beck, tweets made the connection between their death and the vaccine,” notes Sebastian Dieguez, “we use drama to score ideologically on the vaccine issue.”