Fact Check: Yellow Card Reports Do NOT Prove Scotland Has More Than 30,000 'Victims Of COVID-19 Vaccines'

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Yellow Card Reports Do NOT Prove Scotland Has More Than 30,000 'Victims Of COVID-19 Vaccines' Unproven Link

Are there more than 30,000 people in Scotland who have had adverse reactions and are "victims" of the COVID-19 vaccines, based on the United Kingdom's Yellow Card system of reporting? No, that's not true: Anyone can voluntarily report any suspected side effects to vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card system, but this does not mean there is a proven causal relation between COVID vaccines and reported suspected adverse reactions. Almost 35,000 suspected adverse reactions to COVID vaccines had been reported for Scotland up to November 23, 2022, but they have not been confirmed as a cause by specialists.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on February 13, 2024, by @iondragoshoreaba2023 with the text overlay (translated from Romanian to English by Lead Stories staff):

30,000 victims only in Scotland. A Scottish man, victim of the vaccine, went for the British Prime Minister's throat.

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

TikTok screenshot

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Feb 19 08:04:01 2024 UTC)

The post shows an excerpt from a live forum (archived here) with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak organized by the British television channel GB News on February 13, 2024. In the excerpt, a Scottish man introduces himself as John Watt, "one of the COVID-vaccine injured in this country" and says that "in Scotland right now, according to the Yellow Card system, there are over 30,000 people that have had an adverse reaction to that vaccine."

Similar to the EudraVigilance database in the European Union and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in the United States, the Yellow Card scheme is operated by the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which "collects and monitors information on suspected safety concerns involving healthcare products, like a side effect with a medicine or an adverse medical device incident." Anyone can voluntarily report any suspected adverse reactions or side effects supposedly related to vaccines.

A report does not necessarily mean the vaccine caused that reaction or event, explains a Yellow Card reporting summary on the coronavirus vaccine published on the British government website and updated on March 8, 2023 (archived here).

The summary below breaks down the number of administered doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.K., the number of suspected adverse drug reaction (ADR) reports, and their categories. Up to and including November 23, 2022, the Yellow Card reporting system has received almost 35,000 reports (34,992) of suspected adverse reactions from Scotland to the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines and other unspecified brands.

Screenshot 2024-02-19 at 11.18.03.png

(Source: UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency screenshot of March 8, 2023 Yellow Card reporting summary taken on Mon Feb 19, 09:18 2024 UTC)

Anyone from health care professionals to members of the public and pharmaceutical companies can file a Yellow Card report, the summary explains. Its primary purpose is to detect new safety concerns. Many of the suspected ADRs, though, "do not have any relation to the vaccine or medicine and it is often coincidental that symptoms occurred around the same time as vaccination." The summary adds that "it is therefore important that the suspected ADRs described" in the reports "are not interpreted as being proven side effects of COVID-19 vaccines."

The overwhelming majority of the reports relate to injection-site reactions (sore arm, for example) and generalized symptoms such as a flu-like illness, headache, chills, fatigue, nausea, fever, dizziness, weakness, aching muscles and rapid heartbeat, which usually happen shortly after the vaccination and are not associated with more serious or lasting illness.

The benefits of vaccines in preventing COVID and serious complications associated with COVID far outweigh any currently known side effects and vaccination remains the single most effective way to reduce deaths and severe illness from COVID, the summary notes.

Similar claims on suspected side effects of COVID vaccines have been previously debunked by Lead Stories, here, here and 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.

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