Three Canadian Doctors Died of Chronic Illness Contrary to False Claims Blaming the COVID-19 Vaccine

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By Saranac Hale Spencer

SciCheck Compendium

It is estimated that millions of lives have been saved thanks to COVID-19 vaccines, but false claims continue to cast doubt on their safety and efficacy. One such claim that has spread around the world erroneously suggests that three Canadian doctors died from vaccines. But each of them died from chronic diseases unrelated to the vaccines.

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Vaccines against COVID-19 have been widely used for more than a year and a half. According to a recent model study by researchers at Imperial College London and published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, COVID-19 vaccines prevented at least 14.4 million deaths in the first year they became available.

But false claims questioning the safety and efficacy of injections continue to proliferate online.

A recent claim was spread by the right-wing website Gateway Pundit, which published an article and social media posts on July 28 falsely suggesting that three Canadian doctors died as a result of the vaccine within days of each other, shortly after Your employer will order COVID-19 booster shots.

The indictment has also been released in Spanish, Hebrew and Polish.

Trillium Health Partners, the hospital network that employed the doctors, responded to the allegation, saying in a statement, which was also posted on Twitter: “The rumor circulating on social media is simply false. His deaths were not related to the COVID-19 vaccine. We ask that you please respect the privacy of their families at this difficult time.”

In fact, two of the doctors died of cancer and the third died after what was described as a serious illness, as has been reported by several other fact-checking outlets.

The three doctors were:

  • Dr. Jakub Sawicki, who died after being diagnosed nearly a year ago with stage 4 signet-ring cell gastric adenocarcinoma (cancer), according to a GoFundMe campaign set up by his wife, who has plans to create a scholarship fund in his name. He passed away on July 19.
  • Dr. Stephen McKenzie, who was “gravely ill” before he died, according to an automated message from his medical practice, which is now permanently closed. He reportedly joined Trillium Health nearly 40 years ago and was one of the founding members of the neurology department. He passed away on July 18.
  • Dr. Lorne Segall, who died of lung cancer after a “year-long battle,” according to his obituary. He passed away on July 17.

It is unknown why those disclosing this claim believe the deaths are related to COVID-19 vaccinations, given that Trilium Health Partners has implemented a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for its “staff, professional staff, volunteers, and students.” ” on September 7, 2021, almost a year before the doctors passed away.

Unsurprisingly, the claim has dubious origins. She appears to have come from an Instagram account run by Monique Mackay, a Canadian real estate agent who began filming outside seemingly empty hospitals early in the pandemic to make the point that COVID-19 was a hoax.

A widespread conspiracy theory at the time encouraged those who were skeptical about the existence or severity of the disease to film the apparent inactivity outside local hospitals, an action that was taken by Simone Gold, a doctor turned doctor. one of the main promoters of misinformation about COVID-19 and currently serving a 60-day sentence for entering the Capitol during the January 6 riots.

Mackay, who uses the name Monique Leal on many of her social media accounts related to COVID-19, continually spreads anti-vaccine claims online and promoted the “Freedom Convoy,” in which hundreds of trucks and passenger vehicles protested COVID-19 vaccination mandates and restrictions imposed by the Canadian government.

Mackay declined to answer questions from FactCheck.org.

On July 22, Mackay posted a photo of a text message from an unidentified person on his Instagram account that typically receives about 500 likes per post. The text alluded to the death of the doctors and concluded: “How many more ‘coincidences’ will people accept? These vaccines have to be withdrawn.”

The Gateway Pundit then cited the Instagram post in its July 28 article, and now the claim has gone around the world.

The route this claim has taken, from an Instagram account, to a major partisan website, to posts shared around the world, shows how an unsubstantiated claim can catapult itself out of a niche social media account and gain huge notoriety in question. of days.

Translated by Catalina Jaramillo.

Editor’s Note: The SciCheck Vaccination/COVID-19 Project is made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation has no control about editorial decisions FactCheck.org, and the views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation. The goal of the project is to increase access to accurate information about COVID-19 and vaccines, and reduce the impact of misinformation.

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