Fact Check: Iceland Has NOT Banned 'Covid Shots' As Of December 5, 2023 -- At-Risk People Encouraged To Stay On COVID Vaccine Schedule

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich
Fact Check: Iceland Has NOT Banned 'Covid Shots' As Of December 5, 2023 -- At-Risk People Encouraged To Stay On COVID Vaccine Schedule No Vax Ban

Did Iceland ban COVID-19 vaccinations? No, that's not true: The Nordic nation has not banned COVID vaccines as of this publication and was actually encouraging at-risk populations to maintain a recommended vaccine schedule. Social media users and publications that pushed the false information regarding a ban did not provide verifiable evidence to support or corroborate the claim. Lead Stories determined that the claim originated in an article that misreported content from a Substack blog post published by Sasha Latypova, who has previously been debunked for presenting false material about vaccines.

A version of the claim originated in an article published by the website EVOL, titled "Iceland Bans Covid Shots amid Soaring Sudden Deaths" on November 25, 2023 (archived here). It read, in part:

Speakers at the conference talked about COVID-19 injection harms and the World Health Organisation's (WHO) power grab.

Sasha Latypova was one of the six speakers at the event ...

Six weeks later, the organizers of the conference informed Latypova that the Icelandic government announced that, from next week, COVID-19 injections would no longer be available in Iceland.

Below is how the post appeared at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-12-04 at 9.35.49 AM.png

(Source: EVOL screenshot taken Mon Dec 4 09:35:49 UTC 2023)

As of December 5, 2023, Iceland was administering Pfizer's updated Comirnaty COVID vaccine, according to the most recent guidance administered by the nation's Directorate of Health published on October 1, 2023 (archived here).

Iceland's chief epidemiologist is on record as saying it's not true that the country has a "soaring" sudden rate, as the EVOL article also claimed. This fact check will focus on the part of the article claiming COVID vaccine shots were banned in Iceland.

Iceland continues to recommend a regular COVID vaccine schedule

The above-referenced guidance made no mention of banning COVID vaccines but rather announced that the Ministry of Health had obtained contracts for Cormirnaty XBB. 1.5 vaccines, which would be distributed free for the winter of 2023-24. Health officials recommended the vaccine for those over age 5 with underlying health conditions, for people over 60, for pregnant people and for health care workers.

"Iceland has not banned COVID-19 vaccines, and there are no soaring sudden deaths either," Guðrún Aspelund, chief epidemiologist at the Icelandic Directorate of Health, told USA Today (archived here) and Reuters (archived here). "COVID-19 vaccinations are being administered and recommended to certain high-risk groups, but with no immediate plans to vaccinate the entire population." Lead Stories also reached out to the health agency and will update this article accordingly.

Lead Stories searched through all news releases (archived here) published by the health authority that were available through December 4, 2023. We found no mention of Iceland having banned vaccines or there being "soaring sudden deaths" associated with immunization.

There are no credible news reports that further support this claim. A search for "Iceland bans COVID-19 vaccines" produced no relevant results on Google News (search archived here), which indexes thousands of reputable news articles. If the Icelandic government had made such an announcement, it would have been heavily covered by media outlets globally.

No evidence was provided to support or corroborate the claim

The EVOL article referenced a lecture titled, "Let the Science Speak" that was streamed live from Reykjavik, Iceland, in a three-hour-long video published on YouTube on October 4, 2023 (archived here). Neither the event nor the speakers were affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Icelandic government.

The EVOL post referenced -- but didn't link to -- a blog post written by Latypova, who was said to be a former employee of the pharmaceutical industry. Latypova's claims surrounding COVID and vaccines have been previously fact checked by reputable news outlets.

Lead Stories searched Latypova's Substack blog and found a November 20, 2023, Substack post (archived here) titled "Icelandic Government Quietly (Very Quietly) Removes Covid Vaccines. For now." She cited an Icelandic newspaper article as evidence that:

Next week, the public will be able to get an influenza vaccination at the health center, but not covid vaccination at the moment.

The implication is that the Icelandic government seemingly appeared to have removed COVID vaccines from the market. Latypova did not write that the Icelandic government had banned COVID vaccines, only that they weren't available, nor did she make reference to "soaring sudden deaths." These two discrepancies appeared subsequently in the EVOL article.

The most recent figures as of October 4, 2023, showed that 80.5 percent of Iceland's population (archived here) had received a primary series, or two doses, of a COVID vaccine.

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to COVID vaccine misinformation can be read 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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