Are flu and pneumococcal vaccines linked to the deaths of the elderly in Italy and Spain?

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On August 3, the host Nino Ratishvili of the program “Night Studio” of Obiektivi TV invited homeopath Tinatin Topuria who spoke about deceased elderly people in Italy and Spain in times of pandemic. According to her claims, those people who had flu and pneumococcal vaccines died in nursing homes. Topuria also stated that the cause of death of elderly living in nursing homes wasn’t COVID-19 but other viruses.

1. Statistics as if those people who had flu and pneumococcal vaccines die in Spain is not available, therefore Tina Topuria’s statement lacks evidence and cannot be reliable. 2. Statement as if the elderly were infected by a common virus in Italy but their deaths were counted as COVID-19 is disinformation because statistical date claims otherwise.

1. Lacks evidence: Those people who had flue and pneumococcal vaccines die in Spain and Italy

Identical statistics as if death count comprises those who had flu and pneumococcal vaccines cannot be found. This information disseminated without evidence aims to awaken anti-vaxxer sentiments. “Night Studio’s” respondent Tina Topuria cites her personal contacts as a source, which cannot be considered as reliable.

Besides the fact that vaccination against flu and pneumococcal infection isn’t linked to a spike in the death rate of elderly in nursing homes in 2020, vaccination is considered as an essential intervention for public health to reduce seasonal flu and its’ complications.  Studies have shown that the immune system weakens with age, which, basically, increases the risk of certain diseases such as pneumonia, shingle, and so on. In reality, the vaccine strengthens the body and reduces the chances of developing numerous diseases. According to the information published by World Health Organization in 2008, elderly individuals given the influenza vaccine in the USA had approximately 20% less chance of suffering cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease and 50% lower risk of mortality compared to unvaccinated counterparts. Moreover, according to studies on pneumococcal vaccine conducted in Italy, the vaccine reduces the high mortality of pneumonia in the elderly. Therefore, flu and pneumococcal vaccine cannot be the cause of COVID-19 mortality, albeit they cannot protect people from COVID-19.

Disinformation N2:  Elderly were infected by a common virus in Italy but their deaths were counted as COVID-19.

Information provided by the respondent claiming that elderly living in Italy had been infected by a common virus but nevertheless considered COVID-19 as the cause of death is conspiracy and it disseminated on social network following Italian politician Vittorio Sgarbi’s statement on 24 April saying that 96.3% died of other diseases and not COVID-19.  Italian politician cites a report from the Higher Institute of Health that doesn’t actually comprise such claims. The study is based on 21 551 samples from deceased COVID-19 infected people and lists other comorbidities, from which deceased patients also suffered. According to the report, only 3.7% of the sample presented with no comorbidities. This means that 96.3% of the people who had died in Italy after testing positive for the coronavirus had also suffered from at least one condition. This finding does not mean that the virus did not cause their death. Moreover, the president of the Italian National Institute of Statistics Gian Carlo Blangiardo stated that the number of deaths in Italy has dramatically increased and recorded deaths of March 2020 is 49% higher than it was in March 2019. This data is one more counterargument to the statement that the spike in death rate might be caused by old diseases and not new coronavirus. As for the official mortality statistics of the elderly in nursing homes, Italy’s higher health institute found that between 17 February and 17 April there had been 6,773 deaths across all nursing homes, 40% of which were due to Covid-19.

For clarification, it’s worth mentioning that there have been cases in Spain when a patient in a nursing home wasn’t tested for COVID-19 but had characteristic signs of this virus and nursing homes counted mentioned cases together with COVID-19 cases, albeit they weren’t included in final statistics of the country. This process and the data is completely transparent. According to data of May 10, 2020, provided by regional governments of Spain, a total of 16,678 people have passed away in care homes, which represent a 52.3% of COVID-19 deaths in Spain. If the deaths of people without a positive test are not taken into account, the number of deaths in care homes would be reduced to 9,642. It’s worth mentioning that generally in Spain COVID-19 death data is only based on cases that tested positive for coronavirus.

About the source

Tina Topuria has previously disseminated fake news about COVID-19 and vaccination via her personal Facebook page, as well as television.  On June 11, she was invited on “Obiketivi” TV, where she claimed Georgia to be used as a proving ground for testing the vaccine.

Myth Detector Lab 

Violation: Disinformation
Country: Italy, Spain
Source
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