Fact Check: CDC Did NOT 'Quietly' Confirm 118,000 Children, Young Adults 'Died Suddenly' From COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich
Fact Check: CDC Did NOT 'Quietly' Confirm 118,000 Children, Young Adults 'Died Suddenly' From COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Unrelated Data

Did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "quietly" confirm in late 2022 that at least 118,000 children and young adults have "died suddenly" in the U.S. since rollout of COVID-19 vaccines? No, that's not true: Experts told Lead Stories that excess death data has been publicly published by the CDC since COVID was declared a pandemic in March 2020. This data does not establish whether or not a person "died suddenly."

Nor is there any established link to the timing of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) December 2020 emergency use authorization of COVID vaccines. While it is true that there has been an increase in excess deaths since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, experts blame other causes including -- aside from the virus itself -- the emergence of the coronavirus delta variant and other medical factors.

The claim originated in an article published by The Exposé on November 30, 2022, (archived here) under the headline "CDC quietly confirms that at least 118k Children & Young Adults have 'Died Suddenly' in the USA since the roll-out of the COVID Vaccines." The article republished data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (incorrectly identified in the article as the OEC). The article read, in part:

Official figures quietly published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirm nearly half a million children and young adults have died ever since the Food & Drug Administration first granted emergency use authorisation to a Covid-19 vaccine in the USA.

This has sadly resulted in nearly 118,000 excess deaths compared to the 2015-2019 average.

Here is how the article appeared at the time of the writing:

image (7).png

(Source: The Exposé screenshot taken on Monday Dec 12 12:15 2022 UTC)

The figures included in the article showed U.S. weekly excess deaths, or the difference between the number of deaths that occurred and how many would have been expected based on data from the pre-pandemic era. The data included in The Exposé article is consistent with authentic CDC data. However, it does not prove a link between Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for COVID vaccines and the increase in excess deaths.

In addition, the article defines "children and young adults" as those "aged 0-44" -- young adults are generally considered those between 18 and 25.

"The figures show the number of additional deaths recorded -- from ALL causes, both sudden and otherwise -- in each week compared to the average expected," OECD Press Officer Spencer Wilson told Lead Stories in an email on December 14, 2022.

Following the declaration of the COVID pandemic on March 11, 2020, the CDC began publishing publicly available data on weekly estimated excess deaths in the U.S. The first spike in excess deaths (indicated by the red cross below) is shown for the first week of available data ending on March 28, 2020 -- nine months before the FDA announced the first EUAs for the Pfizer-BioNTech (December 11, 2020) and Moderna (December 18, 2020) vaccines.

Below, comparisons of weekly death counts with historical trends show whether the number of deaths is significantly higher than expected.


(Source: CDC shows data current as of December 14, 2022.)

Robert Anderson, lead mortality statistician for the CDC National Center on Health Statistics (NCHS), told Lead Stories in an email on December 14, 2022, that excess death data does not establish whether a person "died suddenly."

Data provided to Lead Stories by the NCHS showed that there were nearly 500,000 total deaths of those between 0 and 44 years of age between 2021 and December 14, 2022. However, the connection between these deaths and the FDA's EUA is "tenuous at best," Anderson said. The number of total deaths for those between 0 and 44 years of age is shown below:

  • 2018: 200,125
  • 2019: 202,029
  • 2020: 242,526
  • 2021: 275,231 (provisional)
  • 2022: 212,078 (provisional and partial)

Anderson told Lead Stories that 2020 data provides a baseline number for pandemic-era excess deaths before the widespread rollout of COVID vaccines. In 2020, there were 45,680 excess deaths for those between 0 and 44 years of age, followed by 80,142 in 2021 and 43,941 as of December 14, 2022. (The 2022 figure will likely be higher once data is complete.)

"It is worth noting that the big hump in excess deaths in 2021 for this age group corresponds with the emergence of the Delta variant, which had a more substantial impact on the younger population," Anderson wrote, adding that the uptick is also related to medical factors influenced by lockdown measures.

"A substantial proportion of the excess deaths for this age group are COVID deaths, but since 2020, we are also seeing increases in accidental deaths (mainly drug overdoses), suicides, homicides, heart diseases, liver disease, and diabetes," he wrote.

Lead Stories has debunked dozens of claims related to COVID-19 vaccines. Those fact checks can be found here.

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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.

  Madison Dapcevich

Raised on an island in southeast Alaska, Madison grew up a perpetually curious tidepooler and has used that love of science and innovation in her now full-time role as a science reporter for the fact-checking publication Lead Stories.

Read more about or contact Madison Dapcevich

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