False posts have circulated worldwide claiming BBC News has “admitted” Covid-19 vaccines are to blame for record excess deaths in the UK in 2022. But the BBC’s report on excess deaths — those that occurred beyond what would have been expected for the year — actually says vaccines are not causing the rise in mortality figures. Experts say lasting impacts of the pandemic on healthcare likely drove up deaths in the UK.
“BBC News Finally Admits COVID Vaccines Caused ‘Excess Deaths’ in 2022,” reads the headline on an article, a screenshot of which was shared on Facebook on April 18, 2023. It was posted in a group with more than 4,300 members.
Part of the article visible in the screenshot reads: “BBC News has finally admitted what many independent outlets have been reporting on for the last few years: Covid jabs are causing ‘excess deaths’ among the vaccinated population.”
A keyword search on Google led to the article published here on the website magspress.com on April 13. The article cites portions of a BBC report published on January 10, titled “Excess deaths in 2022 among worst in 50 years” (archived link).
“Excess deaths” refer to the number of deaths that occurred over a specified period above what would have been expected.
Screenshots and links to the article were shared more than 2,400 times elsewhere on social media, including in Facebook posts by users in Canada and the United States, and by Twitter users in New Zealand and the UK.
A review of the BBC report about excess deaths in 2022, however, found it actually says the opposite of what the false posts allege.
“Figures up to June 2022 looking at deaths from all causes show unvaccinated people were more likely to die than vaccinated people,” the report reads. “If vaccines were driving excess deaths we would expect this to be the other way around.”
A BBC spokesperson told AFP on April 26 that its report about excess deaths did not support the claim being made on social media.
The BBC News report states that 650,000 deaths were registered in the UK in 2022 — a nine percent increase on the figure for 2019.
Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, told AFP on April 28 the claim that vaccines are responsible for excess deaths in the UK is “false and there is no good evidence to support it”.
Hunter said data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) show vaccinated people in fact have a lower all-cause death rate.
“If the all-cause death rate is lower in people who have been vaccinated then vaccination cannot be contributing to excess deaths,” he said.
Hunter said possible explanations for the increasing number of excess deaths included “delayed diagnosis of lethal diseases as a result of the pandemic and its associated control measures, impact of reduced mobility as a result of pandemic restrictions.”
“But what we can say with certainty is that it is not due to vaccination,” he said.
A spokesperson for the ONS separately told AFP on April 26 the agency’s data “show that people who were vaccinated have a lower all-cause mortality rate than those who were not vaccinated” (archived link).