Fact check: COVID-19 vaccines are not causing a rise in stillbirths in Canada


By Ashleigh Stewart Global News
Posted November 25, 2021 1:40 pm Updated November 25, 2021 3:41 pm

A conspiracy theory circulating online claims stillbirths are rising in Canada after women receive the COVID-19 vaccine. But the facts tell a very different story.

The baseless claims of a rise in fetal deaths across the country began circulating in recent weeks, bolstered by unverified statistics shared on social media and in videos by former medical professionals, whose qualifications have been stripped for touting misinformation.

But Global News has gathered data from the hospitals in question and has found that the recorded number of stillbirths is a minuscule fraction of what anti-vaccine protestors claim.

Health officials have repeatedly said all vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe for those thinking of getting pregnant, pregnant or breastfeeding.

A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine found no evidence of an increased risk for early pregnancy loss after COVID-19 vaccination, adding to the findings from other research supporting COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy.

The genesis of the stillbirths conspiracy theory appears to be a video from a rally outside the North Vancouver RCMP office in British Columbia on Nov. 11, spearheaded by retired family physician Mel Bruchet along with Daniel Nagase, a former fill-in doctor who was relieved of his duties after administering patients with an unapproved COVID-19 vaccine. In the video, Bruchet calls the pandemic a “hoax.”

The video shows protesters spreading disinformation about COVID-19. In one clip, Bruchet describes talking with an unnamed individual, who spoke to a number of unnamed doulas, who told him there had been 13 stillbirths in an unspecified 24-hour period at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.

This is incorrect.

Only 4 stillbirths in Vancouver in 5 months

Data from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) shows that from April to late August 2021, there were just four stillbirths across VCH’s seven hospitals, compared to 1,326 live births. Data specifically from Lions Gate Hospital could not be disclosed due to privacy reasons.

In the previous year, there were 3,299 births and 11 stillbirths.

Nonetheless, the unfounded theory that stillbirths are rising across Canada snowballed.

Unverified articles on WordPress sites then began popping up with headlines that stated the rate of stillbirths was “exploding” across Canada, with the links being disseminated through anti-vaccine groups on Telegram.

Nagase later appears in a widely shared video from an anti-vaccine rally on Nov. 20 in Calgary, where he repeated and elaborated on the theory, but added that he had also been told there were 86 stillbirths in the first half of this year in a “women and children’s hospital” in the Waterloo region of Ontario. In the video, Nagase stutters and changes his statement at least once.

“In Waterloo, Ontario, I have a more reliable statistic that there was 86 stillbirths between January and July and normally it’s only one, it’s only five or six stillbirths every year,” he said.

This is also incorrect.

In total, across the entire province of Ontario in the first six months of this year, there were 300 stillbirths and 67,199 live births. This means that women had a 0.44 per cent chance of experiencing a stillbirth so far in 2021. This is actually lower than in previous years, where it was 0.47 per cent.

In Canada, according to Statistics Canada data, there are around 3,000 stillbirths per year.

However, conspiracy theorists have doubled down on their assertion that this year’s stillbirths are due to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nagase adds in the video from the Calgary rally, “But the most important confirmation that we have from the Waterloo, Ontario, report is that all of the 86 stillbirths were fully vaccinated.”

But experts say such a report does not exist, because there is no easy way to know this information. A spokesman for BORN Ontario says that data would need to be drawn from COVaxON, the provincial COVID-19 vaccine data repository and cross-referenced with patient data.

Nagase had his medical license terminated for treating patients with ivermectin, an unapproved treatment for COVID-19 popular with anti-vaccine groups and once endorsed by former U.S. president Donald Trump. Ivermectin is used to treat livestock for parasites and has been the subject of warnings by Health Canada, which said “there is no evidence that ivermectin works to prevent or treat COVID-19.”

Nagase is now a fixture at anti-vaccine rallies. In one video interview shared in a Telegram group, he is hailed as a “hero to all Canadians.”



Vancouver Coastal Health says people spreading rumours have no association with Lions Gate Hospital

Bethany Lindsay · CBC News · Posted: Nov 24, 2021 11:43 AM PT | Last Updated: November 25

Health authorities say there’s no truth to social media rumours that suggest there were more than a dozen stillbirths in 24 hours at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday evening, Vancouver Coastal Health dismissed disinformation suggesting a spike in stillbirths among mothers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

“There is no truth to this claim and the individuals spreading this false information have no affiliation to either LGH or VCH. There has been no notable change to the incidence of stillbirths in the VCH region throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” the health authority said.

“This type of disinformation adds unnecessary stress to expecting parents who have received a COVID-19 vaccine, on health-care staff who must reassure their patients, and on the health-care system, as resources are stretched further during the ongoing pandemic response.”

False rumours linked to video of protest

The rumour about stillbirths appears to have started with a video of a Nov. 11 anti-vaccination rally outside the North Vancouver RCMP detachment that has been shared by a handful of small media outlets promoting extreme right-wing content.

Some of the protesters shown in the video claim that unnamed doulas have told them about the stillbirths. None of those doulas are present at the rally.

The false claims are echoed by two men with medical credentials who are shown entering the detachment to speak with Mounties inside. Neither man has any connection to Lions Gate Hospital or hospital privileges anywhere in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, the health authority confirmed.

One of the men is retired family doctor Mel Bruchet, who calls COVID-19 a “hoax” in the video. According to the website of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., Bruchet has resigned his medical licence.

The other medical professional featured in the video is Dr. Daniel Nagase, who claims he was fired from working at a rural Alberta hospital after promoting the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

Nagase has said he treated three patients with ivermectin at the Rimbey Hospital and Care Centre, located 65 kilometres northwest of Red Deer, Alta. Versions of the drug designed for humans and for livestock have been widely and falsely promoted as a cure for COVID-19, leading to shortages in Canada for those who might need it.

Alberta Health Services has said Nagase was not scheduled for further shifts at the hospital and a review would be conducted into his “extremely disappointing” conduct.




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