An anti-vaccine conspiracy theory has ‘died suddenly’

The conspiracy theory that COVID-19 vaccinations are killing young athletes has been debunked.

The conspiracy theory that COVID-19 vaccinations are killing young athletes has been debunked. Photo: Getty

For conspiracy theorists, any death that was sudden — particularly in young and healthy people — was the COVID-19 vaccine’s fault.

The phrase “died suddenly” was popularised online, even spawning a horrifically inaccurate movie of the same name, as any death was instantly ruled to be because of the vaccine.

New data collected by the American Heart Association examined collegiate athletes and found that over a 20-year time frame, from 2002 to 2022, sudden cardiac death has continued to fall, decimating the conspiracy theory that young athletes were dying en masse after receiving their shots.

While other research has shown that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, it hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorists from claiming they cause widespread death due to myocarditis and other complications.

Only a single case of death by myocarditis was discovered from January 1, 2020, until June 30, 2022, and a range of factors contributed to sudden cardiac arrest, although vaccination status was not one of them.

Eight to ten college athletes die each year because of heart-related issues, even before the pandemic, and it has been a known threat for years.

Known threat

Since before the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have been aware of the risk of sudden cardiac death, and it continues to be the most common medical cause of death for athletes.

A 2016 study found the incident rate for athletes suffering from sudden cardiac death was between one in 40,000 and one in 80,000.

With over 168,000 athletes competing in the 2016 Olympic games, that means between two and four will likely suffer from sudden cardiac death in their lifetimes.

The film Died Suddenly, which popularised the phrase after millions of online views, even used individuals who had died of cancer as examples of those experiencing sudden death due to a global plot to depopulate the earth using vaccines.

The ‘died suddenly’ claims still haven’t died out, despite being debunked. Photo: X

Conspiracy theorists attribute a substantial number of celebrities and athletes who have died or experienced health issues as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine with little evidence or recourse when the true cause of death is inevitably revealed.

Died suddenly

When American football player Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field earlier in the year, anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists immediately used his health incident to further claim that the vaccine causes heart issues in healthy adults.

Damar Hamlin’s collapse was quickly ruled by conspiracy theorists to be because of the vaccine. Photo: AAP

Hamlin suffered from commotio cordis, a rare condition where an impact to the chest disrupts the heart’s rhythm and remarkably returned to professional sports in August of the same year.

Those who propagated anti-vaccine rhetoric expressed dissatisfaction with Hamlin attending a game just 12 days after the incident and quickly shifted to an even more outlandish claim: asserting that Hamlin had been replaced by a body double.

Following the death of Golden Girls star Betty White at the age of 99, false quotes circulated online falsely attributing statements to White, claiming she had been vaccinated before her death.

Betty White, who died less than a month before her 100th birthday, was also subject to conspiracy theories around her death. Photo: ModeTrend

White died of a stroke, a common ailment for people pushing a century on earth, but it didn’t stop the terminally online from believing that she told people to “Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today,” three days before her death.

Another celebrity death quickly attributed to the vaccine and debunked — do you see a pattern here? — was comedian Bob Saget, who died of blunt force trauma to the head after falling in his hotel room.

Quickly jumping onto his sudden death, unfounded claims about COVID-19 vaccines leading to his death were disputed by both the autopsy report and Saget’s wife.

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