Fact Check: NO Proof Start Of COVID Vaccinations For Children In Europe Is Responsible For 'Shocking 691% Increase' In Excess Deaths

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: NO Proof Start Of COVID Vaccinations For Children In Europe Is Responsible For 'Shocking 691% Increase' In Excess Deaths Not Linked

Has the number of excess deaths in Europe gone up a "shocking 691%" in children since the European Medicines Agency (EMA) first approved the COVID vaccine for them? Yes, it's true that the number of excess deaths has gone up some sevenfold, but there's no evidence to support the implied connection between the increase and the start of COVID vaccinations in children 0-14. In addition, the sample size is small because of the relatively low mortality rate for children. So, even small changes can result in exaggerated-looking figures.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by The Exposé on August 29, 2022, under the title "Europe officially records a shocking 691% increase in Excess Deaths among Children since EMA first approved COVID Vaccine for Children." It opened:

Official mortality figures for Europe show that there has been a shocking 691% increase in excess deaths among children since the European Medicines Agency extended the emergency use authorisation of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 15 in May 2021.

Before this decision by the European Medicines Agency, deaths among children in 2021 were below the expected rate. But following the emergency use authorisation, excess deaths among children by the end of the year had risen by a deeply troubling 1,599% compared to the 2017 to 2020 average.

Unfortunately, this trend has continued into 2022, with Europe officially recording a 381% increase in excess deaths among children this year so far, compared to the 2018 to 2021 average.

This is what the post looked like on The Exposé website at the time of writing:

The Expose cropped.png

(Source: The Exposé screenshot taken on Wed Sep 7 14:25:44 2022 UTC)

The figures used in the article come from EuroMOMO, which is short for European mortality monitoring. The aim of the agency is "to detect and measure excess deaths related to seasonal influenza, pandemics and other public health threats." It collates excess mortality data for 22 European countries as well as Israel. The graph below shows how excess deaths in the 0-14 age group compare to the historical baseline average for 2020, 2021 and through the first 34 weeks of 2022. The EuroMOMO website defines excess deaths as a "deviation in mortality from the expected level":

Excess deaths.png

(Source: EuroMOMO (euromomo.eu) 2022 screenshot taken on Wed Sep 7 16:11:02 2022 UTC)

While the graph clearly shows an upswing in excess deaths, starting around the time the EMA first approved a COVID vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 in May 2021, what's not clear is the reason. The Exposé article suggests the upswing was caused by the shot:

Is this just an unfortunate coincidence to add to the long list of 'coincidences' that have occurred since early 2020? The authorities would most definitely like you to think so. But they still need to explain why thousands more children are dying than normally expected across Europe.

It should be noted that not even The Exposé's figures point to "thousands more children" dying across Europe. Their calculations put the total number at 1,856:

Expose Two.png

(Source: The Exposé screenshot taken on Wed Sep 7 18:54:03 2022 UTC)

Possible explanations for the excess deaths include children dying from COVID itself, but the EuroMOMO website warns against drawing any conclusions from its data:

Note on EuroMOMO's general role in the analysis of underlying causes of excess mortality

As EuroMOMO collects routine data on all-cause mortality only, but no information on specific causes of death, nor any data on other factors that may be associated with observed mortality signals, EuroMOMO's outputs do not allow specific conclusions about underlying causes of changing mortality levels per se. Never the less, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, mortality patterns can be expected to fluctuate as a consequence of changing COVID-19 transmission levels and the various preventive measures, that have been installed and lifted intermittently in the participating countries throug[h] the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a September 7, 2022, email to Lead Stories, EuroMOMO Project Statistician Jens Nielsen echoed, in part, the website's caveat:

We/EuroMOMO will not be able to provide the cause of the increased mortality in the age group 0 to 14 years of age. First of all, because EuroMOMO monitor[s] mortality and generally (doesn't) provide reasons for changes in mortality. However, we are corresponding with the participating countries, and hope to find a plausible explanation for this.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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