In an age where Covid-19 vaccine misinformation is rife, the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA) issued a statement tackling the exaggerations of side effect severity and frequency.

The 5 July statement, which was swiftly endorsed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), points to overwhelming evidence demonstrating a good safety profile across all age groups.

There have so far been more than 13 billion vaccine doses given worldwide. ICMRA says the vast majority of side effects due to Covid-19 vaccines are mild and temporary. Any serious side effects identified by safety monitoring systems, such as myocarditis and blood clots, are very rare – meaning they occur in less than one in 10,000 people.

The statement pointed towards false and misleading information being spread, especially on social media, that exaggerates the frequency and severity of side effects.

The statement read: “As for all medicines, reports of medical events after Covid-19 vaccination (suspected side effects) are collected and continuously evaluated by the authorities. These evaluations show that in most cases the medical events were not caused by the vaccine.”

In May 2023, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an end to the Covid-19 public health emergency. Although extensive nationwide vaccination programmes have wound down, vaccines protecting against a wide range of SARS-CoV-2 strains are still available. In recent months, regulatory agencies have updated recommendations based on emerging strains, encouraging companies such as Moderna to develop updated vaccines that can be used as boosters.

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ICMRA also went on to say that misinformation has likely led to more deaths than adverse effects of the vaccines. There is no evidence to support the notion that Covid-19 vaccines contributed to excess mortality during the pandemic. Instead, a wealth of evidence indicates that vaccines saved millions of lives.

The statement added: “False information on Covid-19 vaccine safety is dangerous and can contribute to the growing problem of vaccine hesitancy. It can also affect trust in other life-saving routine childhood vaccinations.”