Original article (in Serbian) was published on 25/08/2022
What do you think when you read that the US government has published official data according to which vaccines against the coronavirus increase the risk of getting cancer by as much as 143,233 percent? Recently, these claims have been shared in numerous groups on Viber, Facebook and Telegram, as well as on web portals such as Nulta tacka. However, these are not official data, nor can any conclusions be drawn from them – there is no evidence that vaccines cause cancer. This time, this fake news came to Serbia, among other things, from the website of Alex Jones, a controversial American presenter who has been spreading misinformation for decades and pays them well.
“American media: Official reports indicate that vaccines against COVID cause cancer”, writes Nulta tacka.
The text found on this site today has been shared for days, from other web portals such as Epoha.hr, on anti-vaxxer channels on Viber, Telegram, Facebook and other networks.
The main claim is the following – official US government data show that vaccines cause an incredible 143,233 percent increase in cancer patients.
As stated, this is the data from VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web portal.
In the short text translated by Nulta tacka, two tables are given in which we see some numbers, but it is unclear what exactly they show. In other words, web portals like this one expect to be taken at their word.
The numbers, as they write, show the following:
“A quick search of the VAERS database (…) reveals that from December 2020 to August 5, 2022, a total of 2,579 cancer-related adverse effects were reported in just one year and eight months”. “But doing a similar search (…) of the number of cancer cases reported as a side effect to all other available vaccines between 2008 and 2020, over a 13-year period, reveals that there were only 791 cancer-related side effects”.
Many things are unclear here – among other things, which criteria were chosen by the author of these claims for the mentioned table to obtain these numbers, and it is also unclear how the rate of increase of 143,233 percent was calculated.
What is important to know is that these are not “official data”, nor do these data show any connection between vaccines and cancer.
According to the VAERS website, it is a “passive reporting system”, meaning that it relies on individuals reporting adverse events after receiving the vaccine.
“VAERS is not designed to determine whether a vaccine has caused a health problem”.
Below the search tables is a large “disclaimer” detailing what VAERS is and what it is not, what conclusions can be drawn based on that data, and what conclusions cannot be drawn.
“Although very important in monitoring vaccine safety, VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine whether a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or disease (…) VAERS reports may contain incomplete, inaccurate, or unverifiable information, and they can also be biased. As a result, there are limitations on how the data can be used scientifically”, VAERS’ website says.
Specifically, VAERS also adds:
“The number of reported events alone cannot be interpreted as evidence of a causal relationship between the vaccine and the adverse event, or as evidence of the existence, severity, frequency, or rate of vaccine-related problems”, the disclaimer states.
It goes on to add that everyone is invited, and some – such as doctors and vaccine manufacturers – are obliged to report all adverse events after vaccinations for further checks, “even if they are not sure whether the vaccine was the cause”.
Despite all these base limitations, which should be taken with caution and interpreted correctly, anti-vaxxers often use it to “prove” that vaccines are dangerous. The web portal Fake News tragac also wrote about this recently.
VAERS data is not the only one being misused in unsubstantiated claims that vaccines cause cancer. Such claims have been made on several occasions, as written by numerous fact-checking organizations in the world. Those who spread them are consciously manipulating one of the biggest health problems of today, from which many people fall ill and die every day in the world.
Fake news as a profitable business
In addition to the unfounded and unscientific interpretation of these data, attention should also be paid to the sources that anti-vaxxers refer to, that is, when reading the text, you should ask yourself the question – where does this claim come from?
These claims have appeared in numerous texts worldwide, in English, Spanish and other languages, and are shared by conspiracy theorist organizations such as QAnon. The largest number of them refer to the obscure anti-vaxxer website Expose, whose fake news has reached Serbia on several occasions, precisely being shared by the groups above, which Raskrikavanje already wrote about.
The text from the website was also taken over by the popular American Info Wars, which is also referred to by Nulta tacka.
Info Wars is the website of the American conspiracy theorist and controversial presenter Alex Jones. Jones has been known for years, but his popularity was especially boosted by Trump’s mandate when he profiled himself as one of his main propagandists, as the German Spiegel wrote.
The list of disinformation, fake news and conspiracy theories that Jones has put forth over the years, most notably on his online show “The Alex Jones Show”, is endless and, according to Spiegel, includes claims such as that the US government possesses weapons to create artificial tornadoes, that gay marriage are conspiracies by a global secret society, that the attack on the Twin Towers was an “inside” job.
One of the most problematic claims is that gun control advocates in the US staged a massacre at an elementary school in the US in 2012 and that no children actually died, but that they were all actors – 26 people actually died then, and 20 of them were children aged six and seven. Because of this, the victims’ families filed numerous lawsuits against him, and he once defended himself in court by claiming that he said all these things because he was in a state of psychosis.
Due to many lies and hate incitement, networks such as YouTube banned Alex Jones’ channel, but he continued to exist on other platforms. Jones uses a good part of his highly watched show to promote an online store where he sells supplements for immunity, brain function, sleep, and toothpaste. One of his products is called “Survival Shield” and it is actually the most common iodine.
“Globalists want you to be exhausted and unhealthy to dominate your life. Give them back with the help of one of nature’s best preparations”, claims the description of the $40 bottle of iodine.
Spiegel writes that more than two-thirds of the income of the Info Wars web portal comes from the online store, and according to Jones’ own words, this income amounted to 20 million dollars a year back in 2014.