Suddenly Death publishes twisted tragedies to spread the word about vaccination

Suddenly Death publishes twisted tragedies to spread the word about vaccination

  • Post category:Technology

Autopsy results for 6-year-old Anastasia Weaver could take weeks. But it took anti-vaccine campaigners online just hours after his funeral this week to baseless blame on the COVID-19 vaccine.

A prolific Twitter account posted Anastasia’s name and smiling dancing portrait in a tweet with a splash emoji. A Facebook user has messaged his mother, Jessica Day-Weaver, calling her a “killer” for having her child vaccinated.

In fact, the kindergarten teacher from Ohio has had lifelong health issues since her premature birth, including epilepsy, asthma and frequent hospitalizations with respiratory viruses. “The doctors gave us no information other than this because of all his chronic illnesses. … We never thought it could be from the vaccine,” Day-Weaver said of her daughter’s death.

But those facts didn’t matter online, where Anastasia was quickly added to a growing list of hundreds of children, teenagers, athletes and celebrities whose unexpected deaths and injuries have been attributed to wrong with the shots of COVID-19. Under the hashtag #diedsuddenly, online conspiracy theorists have flooded social media with news, obituaries and GoFundMe pages in recent months, leaving grieving families to grapple with the lies.

There’s the 37-year-old Brazilian TV presenter who collapsed live due to a congenital heart defect. The 18-year-old unvaccinated bull rider died of a rare disease. The 32-year-old actress died of a bacterial infection.

The use of “sudden death” — or a misspelled version of it — has increased more than 740% in tweets about vaccines in the past two months compared to the previous two months, according to the company. of media recognition Zignal Labs in an analysis conducted for The Firmly Associated Press. The term’s explosion began in late November with the launch of an online “documentary” of the same name, which has empowered a damaging new shorthand, experts say.

“It’s kind of a group talk, kind of a wink, a nudge,” said Renee DiResta, head of technical research at Stanford’s Internet Observatory. “They take something that’s a relatively common way of describing something — people die unexpectedly — and then lump all those incidents together in one place and give them a hashtag.”

The campaign doesn’t just harm the internet, said epidemiologist Dr Katelyn Jetelina.

“The real danger is that it will eventually lead to real-world action, like B. not to vaccinate,” said Jetelina, who tracks and breaks down COVID data for her blog, Your Local Epidemiologist.

Rigorous studies and concrete evidence from hundreds of millions of vaccines given prove that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Deaths due to vaccination are extremely rare and the risks associated with non-vaccination far outweigh the risks of vaccination. But that hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorists from making a variety of false claims about vaccines.

The movie Died Suddenly features a montage of titles found on Google to erroneously suggest that sudden deaths “have never happened before”. The film has amassed more than 20 million views on an alternative video-sharing site, and its companion Twitter account shows more deaths and injuries every day.

An AP review of more than 100 tweets from the account in December and January found claims that the cases were linked to the vaccine were largely unfounded and, in some cases, contradicted by public information. Some of those featured have died of genetic disorders, drug overdoses, complications from the flu, or suicide. One died in a surfing accident.

The filmmakers did not respond to specific questions from the AP, instead releasing a statement citing an “increase in sudden deaths” and a “PROVEN excess death rate” without providing data.

The total number of deaths in the United States has been higher than expected since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in part due to the virus, drug overdoses and other causes. COVID-19 vaccines averted nearly 2 million deaths in the United States in the first year of use alone.

Some deaths exploited in the film predate the pandemic. Californian writer Dolores Cruz published an essay in 2022 about the grief of her son, who died in a car accident in 2017. “Suddenly Died” used a screenshot of the film’s title, describing his death related to a vaccine.

“Without my permission, someone took her story to show a side, and I don’t appreciate that,” Cruz said in an interview. “His legacy and his memory will be tarnished.”

Others featured in the film survived – but were forced to watch clips of their medical emergencies, which were distorted around the world. For Brazilian TV presenter Rafael Silva, who collapsed on a show due to a congenital heart defect, online misinformation sparked a wave of harassment even before the movie Suddenly Death used the footage .

“I got messages saying I should have died to set an example for other people who were still thinking about getting vaccinated,” Silva said.

Many posts online cite no evidence other than that the deceased had been vaccinated at some point in the past, using a common misinformation strategy known as post hoc error, according to Jetelina.

“People assume that one thing caused another just because the first thing preceded the other,” she said.

Some claims about those who have suffered from heart problems also have a kernel of truth – that COVID-19 vaccines can cause rare problems with heart inflammation, myocarditis or pericarditis, especially in young men. Medical experts say these cases are usually mild and the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.

The narrative also capitalized on high-profile moments like the collapse of Buffalo Bill safety Damar Hamlin when he went into cardiac arrest during a game last month after a severe blow to the chest. But sudden cardiac arrest has long been a leading cause of death in the United States – and medical experts agree the vaccine did not cause Hamlin’s injury.

For some families, misinformation is an accessory to their true goal: understanding why their loved ones died and preventing similar tragedies.

Clint Erickson’s son Tyler died in September while playing golf near their Florida home, just before his 18th birthday. The family know their heart stopped, but still don’t know exactly why. Tyler wasn’t vaccinated, but his story made it into the Suddenly Dead movie anyway.

“It bothers me that it’s being used like that,” Erickson said. But “the biggest personal problem I have is trying to find an answer or close the case.”

Day-Weaver said it was heartbreaking to see people taking advantage of her daughter’s death when they knew nothing about her. Little did they know that she was so into people she hugged strangers at Walmart, or that she had just learned how to smash.

Still, Day-Weaver said, “I don’t wish the loss of a child on anyone. Even her.


Natália Scarabotto from Río de Janeiro contributed to this report.


#Suddenly #Death #publishes #twisted #tragedies #spread #word #vaccination