False claims of stillbirths among vaccinated mothers at B.C. hospital slammed as harmful disinformation

·3 min read
Vancouver Coastal Health says there has been no increase in stillbirths at Lions Gate Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit)
Vancouver Coastal Health says there has been no increase in stillbirths at Lions Gate Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit)

Health authorities say there's no truth to social media rumours that suggest there were more than a dozen stillbirths in 24 hours at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday evening, Vancouver Coastal Health dismissed disinformation suggesting a spike in stillbirths among mothers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

"There is no truth to this claim and the individuals spreading this false information have no affiliation to either LGH or VCH. There has been no notable change to the incidence of stillbirths in the VCH region throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," the health authority said.

"This type of disinformation adds unnecessary stress to expecting parents who have received a COVID-19 vaccine, on health-care staff who must reassure their patients, and on the health-care system, as resources are stretched further during the ongoing pandemic response."

Several scientific studies have shown that COVID-19 vaccines do not increase the risk of stillbirths or miscarriage.

That finding was confirmed last month in preliminary research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, based on a review of 13,956 pregnancies in Norway.

The real risk of stillbirths, according to research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, comes from infection with the novel coronavirus.

A review of 1.25 million deliveries between March 2020 and September 2021 showed that stillbirths occurred in 0.64 per cent of deliveries from people who didn't have COVID-19, and 1.26 per cent of people who had the disease. The rate of stillbirths has risen even higher in pregnancies involving the delta variant of the coronavirus.

False rumours linked to video of protest

The rumour about stillbirths appears to have started with a video of a Nov. 11 anti-vaccination rally outside the North Vancouver RCMP detachment that has been shared by a handful of small media outlets promoting extreme right-wing content.

Some of the protesters shown in the video claim that unnamed doulas have told them about the stillbirths. None of those doulas are present at the rally.

The false claims are echoed by two men with medical credentials who are shown entering the detachment to speak with Mounties inside. Neither man has any connection to Lions Gate Hospital or hospital privileges anywhere in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, the health authority confirmed.

One of the men is retired family doctor Mel Bruchet, who calls COVID-19 a "hoax" in the video. According to the website of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., Bruchet has resigned his medical licence.

The other medical professional featured in the video is Dr. Daniel Nagase, who claims he was fired from working at a rural Alberta hospital after promoting the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

Nagase has said he treated three patients with ivermectin at the Rimbey Hospital and Care Centre, located 65 kilometres northwest of Red Deer, Alta. Versions of the drug designed for humans and for livestock have been widely and falsely promoted as a cure for COVID-19, leading to shortages in Canada for those who might need it.

Alberta Health Services has said Nagase was not scheduled for further shifts at the hospital and a review would be conducted into his "extremely disappointing" conduct.

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