PM Jacinda Ardern and NZ Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. Image by AP PHOTO

No, NZ Police is not launching a probe into vaccine deaths

William Summers July 25, 2022
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

New Zealand Police is considering an inquiry into deaths linked to COVID-19 vaccinations.

OUR VERDICT

False. Police say they have no plans to investigate alleged COVID-19 vaccine deaths.

Facebook users are sharing a story from a US website which claims police in New Zealand may hold an inquiry into deaths supposedly caused by COVID-19 vaccines.

The claim is false. New Zealand Police says it is not investigating alleged vaccine deaths and is not considering an inquiry.

At the time of writing, 171 people in New Zealand were reported to have died after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. However, only three of those deaths were found to be causally linked to the jab, with eight others still under investigation.

The claim was made in an online story on July 13 by News Punch, which describes itself as an “independent news and entertainment website“. The site has been associated with fake news, while FactCheck.org has labelled it “a prolific poster of misinformation and conspiracy theories“.

The story is being shared on Facebook, as seen here, here, here and here. The headline reads: “Jacinda Ardern Left Reeling As New Zealand Police Look at Investigating COVID Jab Deaths”.

It claims police are considering a probe into “the unusually high number of deaths that have occurred since Covid jabs were rolled out across the country”, but offers no evidence that police plan to investigate the alleged vaccine deaths.

Instead, it states a group called New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out with Science (NZDSOS) had “penned a formal letter to police requesting that an official investigation is opened into the jab-related deaths”.

NZDSOS says it is a group of doctors, dentists, pharmacists and vets formed around concerns about the Pfizer Comirnaty COVID-19 injection.

The group has previously questioned the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, promoted unproven alternative treatments for COVID-19 and campaigned against NZ’s health worker vaccine mandates.

A screenshot of the website's article.
 There is no truth to the website’s claim police will investigate COVID-19 vaccine deaths in NZ. 

AAP FactCheck could not find any evidence police had launched an investigation into alleged vaccine deaths in NZ or had any plans to do so.

New Zealand Police confirmed the story is false.

“This is not something police are investigating,” a spokeswoman told AAP FactCheck  in an email. The police service also confirmed it was not considering an investigation.

Vaccine safety in New Zealand is overseen by Medsafe, the nation’s medical products regulatory body.

In its vaccine safety report number 44, the most recent report, Medsafe said 171 deaths were reported to NZ’s ‘CARM’ adverse reaction database following the administration of the Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine up to and including June 30, 2022.

The report said 137 of those deaths were “unlikely related” to the COVID-19 vaccine, 23 “could not be assessed due to insufficient information” and eight were still under investigation.

It said New Zealand’s coroner had determined one death was caused by myocarditis following the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Two further deaths were “likely due to vaccine-induced myocarditis” and awaiting a determination by the coroner, it said.

On July 15, two days after the News Punch story was posted, NZDSOS published what it described as a “dismissive reply” from New Zealand Police.

The response, signed by the director of police legal services, states: “The New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (MEDSAFE) appears to provide extensive data and analysis regarding the covid-19 vaccination programme, that includes information about the effects of the vaccine. This information does not support the claims of your client regarding alleged adverse effects of the vaccine.” 

The letter also states: “I can advise that Police does not accept the views expressed by NZDSOS and does not intend to respond by way of an investigation of Medsafe or other agencies involved in the administration of the covid-19 vaccine.”

The Verdict

The claim that police are looking at launching an investigating into alleged COVID-19 vaccine deaths in New Zealand is false. New Zealand Police say no such inquiry is being considered. The claim was made on a website on July 13. Two days later, the group which asked for the inquiry confirmed police had dismissed its proposal.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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