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Contrary to headline by The People’s Voice, COVID-19 vaccines aren’t “killing millions” but instead prevented deaths

COVID-19 vaccines “are killing millions”
Factually inaccurate: Data from published studies and safety monitoring found that people who received a COVID-19 vaccine aren’t more likely to die from any cause compared to unvaccinated people. On the contrary, evidence shows that by preventing serious illness, COVID-19 vaccination saved lives.
COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 and various complications with the disease, and are estimated to have saved millions of lives worldwide. All vaccines can cause side effects. However, most side effects from COVID-19 vaccination are generally mild and disappear within a few days. While cases of serious side effects from COVID-19 vaccines do exist, they are extremely infrequent and don’t outweigh the benefits of vaccination.

FULL CLAIM: “Japanese Leader Apologizes to the Unvaccinated: ‘You Were Right, Vaccines Are Killing Millions of Our Loved Ones”


On 31 May 2024, an article in The People’s Voice claimed “Japanese Leader Apologizes to the Unvaccinated: ‘You Were Right, Vaccines Are Killing Millions of Our Loved Ones'”. Posts sharing this headline made the rounds on Facebook and Instagram, receiving tens of thousands of interactions.

The claim also circulated on X (formerly Twitter), aided by prominent users like former U.K. Member of Parliament Andrew Bridgen, whose post received over 100,000 views. Bridgen has repeatedly posted misinformation about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines on social media. On 12 April 2023, Brigen was permanently expelled from the Conservative party after he compared the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines with the Holocaust.

The origin of the claim: Kazuhiro Haraguchi

The People’s Voice article and Bridgen’s post shared a video of a speech by Kazuhiro Haraguchi, a member of the National Diet (the Japanese Parliament) and former Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications. The video was originally published on the website www.aussie17.com and by an X account with the same handle (@_aussie17) on 31 May 2024. The X post accumulated over half a million views at the time of writing.

Haraguchi was speaking at a Tokyo rally against the World Health Organization (WHO)’s pandemic accord. The accord has become a lightning rod for conspiracy theories and misinformation, with many incorrectly claiming that it would allow the WHO to force vaccination on people.

Science Feedback reached out to Daisuke Furuta at Japan Fact-check Center and Masato Kajimoto at Annie Lab to verify the content of Haraguchi’s speech. Below is the translation of Haraguchi’s speech into English:

“I would like to offer my sincere condolences to those who died as a result of this bio-weapon-like object. Lives were lost that should not have been lost. As one of the parliamentarians, I would like to apologize to you all. It should have been stopped. There are people who shouldn’t have died. And as I go around the country, there are people who were so healthy but cannot stand, cannot walk, cannot go to school or to work. Let us overthrow this government that did not save the lives that could have been saved!”

The translation shows that this specific video clip didn’t contain any reference to the figure of “millions” that The People’s Voice cited. Nevertheless, Haraguchi’s speech did convey the overall message that COVID-19 vaccines caused death and disability.

As Science Feedback explained in previous claim reviews, this longstanding narrative has commonly drawn on misinterpreted data, anecdotes, and simplistic correlations as evidence that COVID-19 vaccination caused mass deaths and illnesses.

This review will explain why the claim that COVID-19 vaccines are deadly is unsubstantiated by scientific evidence. On the contrary, data from clinical trials, safety monitoring, and research studies show that COVID-19 vaccines have been critical for reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations and mortality worldwide.

People who received a COVID-19 vaccine aren’t more likely to die than unvaccinated people

COVID-19 vaccines were shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials before they were made available to the public. It’s worth noting that all vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, can cause side effects. However, most of these side effects are mild and self-limiting, although some can be potentially serious. But on the whole, they haven’t been shown to outweigh the benefits of vaccination in reducing the risk of serious illness and death.

Health authorities including the WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), continue to monitor adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination to detect any potential safety signals. This helped identify very rare side effects (those occurring in less than one person per 10,000 vaccinated people, as per the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences guideline) associated with COVID-19 vaccines.

More specifically, mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are linked to rare cases of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) and a slightly increased risk of heart inflammation, particularly in young males and after the second dose[1,2]. Viral vector COVID-19 vaccines (Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson) are associated with very rare but life-threatening cases of blood clots in young women[3].

If the COVID-19 vaccines were indeed killing people in the millions, as claimed, we would expect this effect to be reflected in higher mortality among vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated people. However, this isn’t what the data shows.

Science Feedback explained in previous reviews that studies comparing mortality in different countries and U.S. states showed lower excess mortality in regions with higher vaccine coverage compared to those with lower vaccine coverage[4,5]. While these results don’t prove that the vaccines reduced mortality—because correlation alone doesn’t confirm causation—this is inconsistent with the narrative that COVID-19 vaccines are deadly.

Published studies so far also show no association between COVID-19 vaccines and a greater risk of death, as Science Feedback explained in earlier reviews. For example, one study done in collaboration with the CDC evaluated mortality data from more than ten million people aged 12 and older from seven locations in the U.S. between December 2020 and July 2021[6].

The study found no increased risk of death from non-COVID-19 causes in people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, the results showed that unvaccinated people were at least twice more likely to die of non-COVID-19 causes than those vaccinated. After adjusting for demographic characteristics, the relative risk reduction was 41% (dose one) and 34% (dose two) for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 34% (dose one) and 31% (dose two) for the Moderna vaccine, and 54% for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In a follow-up study published in the journal Vaccine in 2023, the authors showed a similar reduction in non-COVID-19 mortality rates among vaccinated people for the period between December 2020 and August 2021October 2021 and December 2022[7].

Consistent with these results, another study involving more than half a million people in Indiana found 37% lower all-cause mortality in vaccinated people compared to the unvaccinated group between 2021 and 2022[8].

Vaccination protects against COVID-19-associated risks, including death

Rather than increase mortality risk, the vaccines effectively protect against serious COVID-19 and the multiple health risks associated with it, including death[9]. Estimates indicate that, by reducing the risk of severe COVID-19, vaccination likely prevented millions of deaths worldwide[10,11].

In 2023, the U.K. Office for National Statistics estimated the risk of death following SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 vaccination in people aged 12 to 29 years in England[12]. The analysis found no increased risk in cardiac or all-cause mortality in this population. The study did identify an increased risk of cardiac death in women (six extra deaths per 100,000 vaccinated females) after a first dose of a viral vector COVID-19 vaccine. However, the authors explained that clinically vulnerable people—who may be at a greater risk of adverse events—were overrepresented in this group. Therefore, this observation may not apply to the general population.

Moreover, this potential risk needs to be viewed alongside the risk posed by COVID-19 itself. In this sense, the study found that, while the risk of all-cause death didn’t increase after vaccination, it did after SARS-CoV-2 infection, particularly among unvaccinated people. This increase translated into one additional death for every 11,936 unvaccinated individuals aged 12 to 29 compared to one additional death for every 55,661 vaccinated individuals.

More recently, a 2024 study published in Nature Communications evaluated the long-term effects of COVID-19 vaccination on the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality following SARS-CoV-2 infection in over a million people in Hong Kong[13]. In this study, infection was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality within the three months following infection in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. However, the risk was lower in people who had received a COVID-19 vaccine (twice the risk of cardiovascular disease and three times the risk of all-cause death compared to uninfected controls) than in unvaccinated people (over four times the risk of cardiovascular disease and 18 times the risk of all-cause death compared to uninfected controls).

Over time, infection-related cardiovascular and mortality risk diminished in both vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. But while fully vaccinated people returned to a risk level comparable to that in uninfected people after three months, the risk in people who were unvaccinated or who were partially vaccinated remained elevated for over a year.

Finally, COVID-19 vaccines do more than reduce preventable deaths. For example, one study published by Copland et al. in Nature Communications investigated the effect of COVID-19 vaccination in hospitalization rates following SARS-CoV-2 infection in more than five million children and adolescents in England[14].

The authors found that SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with an increased risk of hospitalization from seven of the twelve pre-specified health conditions evaluated, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome and myocarditis. In contrast, these conditions were either not observed or largely reduced in children and adolescents who were vaccinated prior to infection.

Other studies in adults also found reductions in all-cause emergency visits and hospitalizations[8] from several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, non-COVID-19 pneumonia, diabetes, and renal failure[15].

As discussed above for mortality, these results are also inconsistent with COVID-19 vaccines causing mass injuries. Instead, they highlight the real-world benefits of COVID-19 vaccination, both in adults and children.


The claim that COVID-19 vaccines killed millions of people is unfounded. Evidence from scientific studies and vaccine surveillance data doesn’t suggest that people vaccinated against COVID-19 are more likely to die than unvaccinated people. If anything, it shows that vaccination likely reduced mortality by lowering the risk of serious illness and complications from COVID-19, which poses a much higher risk of health problems than vaccination.



Published on: 20 Jun 2024 | Editor:

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