CLAIM: An increase in death benefits paid out by life insurers in the third quarter of 2021 in the United States provides evidence that COVID-19 vaccines, which became widely available in 2021, have led to a spike in deaths.
FACTS: The claim falsely attempts to link COVID-19 vaccines to an increase in U.S. deaths that insurance companies reported in 2021. Insurance industry leaders say the delta variant coronavirus and delayed medical care during the pandemic, not vaccines, likely contributed to the rise in deaths.
Even though millions of people were vaccinated against COVID-19 in 2021, reports of deaths after vaccination remain extremely rare, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A blog post widely circulated online this month claims that an increase in deaths in the third quarter of 2021, about six months after COVID-19 vaccines became widely available, “offers further evidence that something is wrong. not with these vaccines”. Other posts misrepresented comments made by Scott Davison, the CEO of Indianapolis-based insurance company OneAmerica.
Davison told a press conference in late December that his company saw a 40% increase in death rates among working-age people insured under its group life insurance policy in the third quarter of 2021. Some posts have used this statistic to falsely imply that vaccines are to blame. But 65% of excess deaths in the United States in the third quarter of 2021 were caused by COVID-19, Davison said in a statement to the AP, citing CDC data. “Based on the data and our analysis, we believe that a significant portion of the remaining excess deaths are due to delayed medical care and people recovering from COVID but later dying from the impact COVID has had on their bodies,” Davison said.
Catherine Theroux, spokeswoman for insurance industry-funded research group LIMRA, said the company doesn’t have hard data through the end of 2021, but CDC data indicates the variant highly contagious coronavirus delta likely contributed to the rise in deaths.
The AP reported in December that CDC data indicated that 2021 would be the nation’s deadliest year on record, with COVID-19 becoming the nation’s third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Experts also said that drug overdose deaths in the United States, which exceeded 100,000 in a single year from May 2020 to April 2021, would likely affect the number of deaths in 2021. As deaths increased in the States United States, reports of deaths following vaccination against COVID-19 have remained extremely rare.
The CDC has identified nine deaths associated with rare blood clots caused by the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, out of more than 17 million doses of this vaccine administered. Health officials recommend the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines for most Americans because they are highly effective against the virus and don’t carry the rare blood clot risk associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Whether a person has received a COVID-19 vaccine is not a determining factor in whether a life insurance company will pay their claim. A CDC spokesperson did not respond to a request for additional comment.
– Associated Press writer Ali Swenson in New York contributed to this report.