Fact Check

Did CDC Confirm That Thousands 'Died Suddenly' as a Result of COVID Vaccines?

An anti-vaccine article is a case study in specious arguments.

Published Dec. 20, 2022

CDC data issued in October 2022 provide evidence that COVID-19 vaccines increase a person's risk of death.

A superficial analysis of publicly available data published by an anti-vaccine outlet named "The Exposé" went viral in December 2022. The piece, entitled "CDC quietly confirms at least 118k Children & Young Adults have 'Died Suddenly' in the USA since the roll-out of the COVID Vaccines," frequently cited its own inability to find publicly available information as evidence of a nefarious plot, claiming that: 

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.

The argument presented above rests solely on the observation that excess deaths — the number of deaths that exceed modeled estimates for that time period —  did not immediately end or decline with the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. Factually speaking, it is true that excess deaths did not immediately end or decline, but — logically speaking — this is lacking as an argument for causation. 

Though described as "incredibly hard to find" by The Exposé, these weekly mortality data have been publicly available for over a decade and are updated regularly. The CDC's data viewer allows a researcher to filter data by factors including age and, in some cases, cause of death. Using these features, The Exposé noted that:

There have been 7,680 more excess deaths among children and young adults in 2022 so far compared to the same time frame in 2020 at the height of the alleged Covid-19 pandemic. 

But the year 2021 was by and large the worst year for deaths among 0 to 44-year-olds, with 291,461 excess deaths in total, nearly 60,000 more than occurred in 2020. 

The fact that the year 2021 — a year in which COVID-19 vaccines existed — "was by far and large the worst year for deaths among 0 to 44-year-olds" has no bearing on the relationship between mortality and COVID-19 vaccination. A meaningful correlation would be between vaccination coverage and risk of mortality. 

As Health Feedback and others report, no such correlation exists. A November study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, the 10 least-vaccinated U.S. states have nearly three times more excess mortality than the 10 most vaccinated states.

Pivot to England

Fundamentally, the CDC data are unable to answer any question related to a mortality risk from COVID-19 vaccination, and The Exposé knows this. Their strategy to combat this fact is to pivot to a completely different dataset from a completely different country. "The data provided by the CDC," the outlet wrote, "only gives us clues as to this being the case with so many deaths among young Americans. But further data published by the UK Government confirms it."

In no world does the data published by the UK Government, which shows monthly non-COVID mortality rates by vaccination status among 18- to 39-year-olds, confirm or answer any question related to the excess mortality in the United States or its link to COVID vaccination. The Exposé's arguments rest on comparing mortality rates at different levels of vaccination across different months: 

In every single month since the beginning of 2022, partly vaccinated and double vaccinated 18-39-year-olds have been more likely to die than unvaccinated 18 to 39-year-olds. Triple vaccinated 18 to 39-year-olds however have had a mortality rate that has worsened by the month following the mass Booster campaign that occurred in the UK in December 2021. 

Even if these data were equipped for such an analysis, these superficial arguments ignore well known statistical artifacts in mortality rate amongst differently vaccinated populations. As that dataset's source, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), explains

Changes in non-COVID-19 mortality by vaccination status are largely driven by the changing composition of the vaccination status groups; this is because of the prioritisation of people who are clinically extremely vulnerable or have underlying health conditions, and differences in timing of vaccination among eligible people. Non-COVID-19 mortality rates can also be affected by seasonal mortality and the healthy vaccinee effect.

But, it should additionally be noted, The Exposé's argument in this figure makes use of "partially vaccinated" numbers that the ONS explicitly states are "unreliable due to small numbers of deaths." Those unreliable numbers are marked with an X below:

The Exposé's final argument based on ONS information stems from a dataset of mortality rates by vaccination status among children aged 10 to 14. These data are, in The Exposé's own words, cherry-picked, and the low number of deaths in this age group makes their explanatory power largely useless. 

Ultimately, The Exposé claims that "figures provided by the Office for National Statistics … are definitive proof that the Covid-19 injections increase a person's risk of dying. Which means the Covid-19 injections have been and are continuing to kill people…. This is why it should come as no surprise to find that a secret CDC report confirms half a million American children & young adults have died following the Covid vaccine roll-out." 

Those data, as we have shown above, say no such thing. As a result, the claim is ranked "False."


Bilinski, Alyssa, et al. "COVID-19 and Excess All-Cause Mortality in the US and 20 Comparison Countries, June 2021-March 2022." JAMA, Nov. 2022. Silverchair, https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2022.21795.

Deaths by Vaccination Status, England - Office for National Statistics. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/deathsbyvaccinationstatusengland. Accessed 19 Dec. 2022.

Excess Mortality and Vaccination. 3 Jan. 2022, https://pandem-ic.com/excess-mortality-and-vaccination/.

Exposé, The. "CDC Quietly Confirms at Least 118k Children & Young Adults Have 'Died Suddenly' in the USA since the Roll-out of the COVID Vaccines." The Expose, 30 Nov. 2022, https://expose-news.com/2022/11/30/usa-118k-children-died-suddenly-covid-vaccine/.

---. "While You Were Distracted by Boris Resigning the UK Government Quietly Confirmed COVID Vaccinated Children Are 4423% More Likely to Die of Any Cause & 13,633% More Likely to Die of COVID-19 than Unvaccinated Children." The Expose, 6 Aug. 2022, https://expose-news.com/2022/08/06/dsitracted-boris-covid-vaccination-kills-children/.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) | MMWR. 15 Dec. 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/index.html.

"What Can Explain the Excess Mortality in the U.S. and Europe in 2022?" Health Feedback, 2 Nov. 2022, https://healthfeedback.org/what-can-explain-the-excess-mortality-in-the-u-s-and-europe-in-2022.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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