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Fact check: The UK government has not blocked the National Statistical Office from posting data on COVID-19 vaccine side effects.

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Allegations that the UK government has blocked the release of data on coronavirus vaccine side effects is circulating on social media is false.

Reuters fact check. Reuters

The post has been shared repeatedly on Facebook and Twitter since the end of January and has been viewed by thousands of people (here, here, here, here, here). They specifically argue that the government has blocked the National Statistical Office from releasing data on people who have experienced side effects after vaccination with COVID-19. The post points out the suspicious reason for the antivirus program.

The UK government has blocked the National Statistical Office from posting information about people’s side effects, diseases and deaths after being vaccinated for COVID-19, a Facebook post said. If everything is there, it should be a reason for our government to withhold this important information.

Another Facebook post, originally taken as a screenshot on Twitter, said: It’s something else you can’t see in the news. The government blocked the National Statistical Office from issuing data on the number of people who died after vaccination and the number of people who suffered side effects after vaccination. Do you think about viruses? Think again

Both of these posts are false. An ONS spokesperson said in an email to Reuters that the department is currently planning to monitor its vaccination program and the results will be announced accordingly.

They said: ONS is developing a plan to monitor the effectiveness of mass vaccinations. This will most likely include analysis of existing data streams and additional survey questions. If we are satisfied with the quality and robustness of our findings, they are disclosed in a general manner in accordance with the UK Statistical Code of Practice.

The Ministry of Health and Human Services also told Reuters that there was no truth about the claims and pointed to a regular report published by the Drug and Medical Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) on vaccines.

Published weekly, the report is collected using data from the Yellow Card scheme, the UK’s official website for recording adverse drug reactions (ADRs). This includes a record of suspected side effects of the coronavirus vaccine (yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/).

The latest report covers the period from December 9, 2020 to February 7, 2021 (here). During this period, 24,207 yellow cards were reported against the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 20,428 were reported against the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. There were also 113 reports that were not branded.

Any public health professional can submit suspected side effects through the yellow card system, MHRA said. The nature of yellow card reporting means that reported events are not always a proven side effect. Regardless of vaccination, some incidents may have occurred anyway. This is especially the case when millions of people get vaccinated, especially when most of the vaccines are given to the majority of older people and those with underlying medical conditions.

According to numerous experts around the world, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective (here, here, here, here). They are also starting to show positive effects in countries with rapid vaccination campaigns. For example, Israel, which provided the first dose of Pfizer/Bioen Tech Zap (here), which is almost half of the population, saw a decrease in COVID-19 test positivity on February 10, and in a month, people were severely affected by the disease. Reported being affected (here). Meanwhile, early analysis in England started showing signs of a positive effect (here).

verdict

wrong. ONS has not been blocked from posting data on vaccine side effects, as this data is already being analyzed and published by MHRA. Meanwhile, ONS said it is planning to monitor its vaccination campaigns and will announce the results in the usual way.

Learn more about fact-checking actions for social media posts here.

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