Fact Check: The British Medical Journal Did NOT Attribute Excess Deaths Since COVID-19 Pandemic To Vaccines

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: The British Medical Journal Did NOT Attribute Excess Deaths Since COVID-19 Pandemic To Vaccines No Causal Link

Did the British Medical Journal attribute excess deaths since the COVID-19 pandemic to vaccines in a study that appeared in one of its publications? No, that's not true: In a statement on its website, the publication said, "This study does not establish any such link." The British Medical Journal also described the claim as "misreporting," adding that the researchers did not look at the causes of the excess deaths.

The claim appeared in a post and video (archived here) published on X, formerly Twitter, by Infowars host Alex Jones on June 6, 2024. The post's caption said:

BREAKING: British Medical Journal Reports Record Excess Deaths After COVID Vaccine

bmjpublichealth.bmj.com/content/2/1/e0

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:

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(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri Jun 7 17:47:36 2024 UTC)

British Medical Journal

The article linked to in the social media post and discussed by Jones appeared in BMJ Public Health, one of the journals of the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The research was published on June 3, 2024, under the title "Excess mortality across countries in the Western World since the COVID-19 pandemic: 'Our World in Data' estimates of January 2020 to December 2022."

The BMJ addressed the false claim by Jones and others in a response posted on its website called "Statement in response to misreporting of BMJ Public Health research on excess deaths since the COVID-19 pandemic." It says:

Various news outlets have claimed that this research implies a direct causal link between COVID-19 vaccination and mortality. This study does not establish any such link. The researchers looked only at trends in excess mortality over time, not its causes. While the researchers recognise that side effects are reported after vaccination, the research does not support the claim that vaccines are a major contributory factor to excess deaths since the start of the pandemic. Vaccines have, in fact, been instrumental in reducing the severe illness and death associated with COVID-19 infection.

The message of the research is that understanding overall excess mortality since the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial for future health policy, but that identifying specific causes is complex due to varying national data quality and reporting methods.

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Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims about vaccines 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.


  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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