The Claim and Our Verdict
- The claim: A Facebook post published Nov. 24, 2021, claims that the stillbirth rate in Waterloo, Canada has increased 29 times since its COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
- The paper mentioned in the claim didn’t get published in the medical journal, Circulation. It is only an abstract at pre-submission stage, which doesn’t mention anything related to the stillbirth rate in Waterloo, Ontario.
- Ontario rolled out its vaccination plan in December 2020. Ontario’s Better Outcomes Registry and Network replied to our inquiry that Waterloo’s stillbirth incidence rate between January 2021 to June 2021 was 41%, not different from the rate in recent years.
- Ontario’s Grand River Hospital provided the stillbirth rate data in Waterloo when responding to our inquiry. The data shows that there has been no significant change since vaccination was rolled out in this region. It is far lower than the purported “29 times.”
- Our ruling: Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
A Facebook post published Nov. 24, 2021, claims that a top-rated medical journal indicates the stillbirth rate in Waterloo, Canada has increased 29 times since its COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
As of the issuance of this report, the post had been shared two times, and had received one comment and 13 likes and reactions.
1.The credibility of the claim and its source
The Facebook post attached an article published on Substack, an American online subscription platform, titled “Latest devastating news on the vaccine”. In the article, a screenshot of a paper abstract published in the journal of Circulation was attached. The Substack article claims, “Cardiac risk could go up 1,000X after vaccination and it wouldn’t matter. Nobody is listening. This article is proof of that.” It adds, “there is a 29X increase in the rate of stillborn babies in Waterloo, Ontario that started after the vaccination program was rolled out. All the mothers of the stillborn babies were vaccinated.”
The abstract published Nov. 8, 2021 was about the possible link between vaccination and cardiovascular disease. It does not include any information about the stillbirth rate in Waterloo, Ontario.
In addition, the official website of Circulation shows that an abstract or short summary of a proposed article was included in pre-submission queries, prior to the publication of the original research article. Therefore, the article shared in the claim has not been published. An “expression of concern” article published Nov. 24, 2021, on the website of Circulation, states, “Soon after publication of the above abstract in Circulation, it was brought to the American Heart Association Committee on Scientific Sessions Program’s attention that there are potential errors in the abstract. Specifically, there are several typographical errors, there is no data in the abstract regarding myocardial T-cell infiltration, there are no statistical analyses for significance provided, and the author is not clear that only anecdotal data was used.”
In summary, the research article shared in the claim has not been published and does not include any information related to stillbirth rate. The claim is baseless.
2.Is the stillbirth rate in Ontario rising after its COVID-19 vaccination rollout?
According to Statistics Canada’s description, fetal death rate is calculated based on the fetal deaths per 1,000 total births (live birth plus fetal deaths) *. In all provinces except Quebec, fetal deaths will be registered when the dead fetus is of 500 or more grams birth weight or a gestational age of at least 20 weeks including the late and perinatal fetal death.
* To align data from multiple sources, all stillbirth rates in this report are shown in percent instead of per mille.
Ontario’s vaccination plan started in December 2020, according to the official website of Ontario.
HKBU FactCheck Service emailed Ontario’s Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN) for inquiry. Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) sponsors BORN and provides the formal governance structure and administrative support. Paddy Moore, team lead of Creative Services and Public Relations of CHEO replied to our inquiry, “According to BORN Ontario, the incidence rate of stillbirth in Ontario between January and June 2021 was not different from the rate in recent years.” According to the data provided by BORN, the incidence rate of stillbirth in Ontario between January 2021 and June 2021 was not showing an upward trend. Another document provided by BORN shows total births during that period in Waterloo, Ontario were 2,936, among which 12 were stillbirths, accounting for the stillbirth rate of 0.41%.
HKBU FactCheck Service also emailed Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Waterloo, Ontario for inquiry on the incidence rate of stillbirth in Waterloo. The communications and media inquiries department at Grand River Hospital replied that Waterloo witnessed 12 stillbirths in 2018–2019 with a stillbirth rate of 0.21%; 20 stillbirths in 2019–2020, with a stillbirth rate of 0.35%; and a stillbirth rate of 0.41% in 2020–2021. The above data shows that though the stillbirth rate in Waterloo, Ontario has slightly increased in recent years, there has been no significant change since vaccination rollout. The data is also far lower than the “29-fold increase” purported in the claim.
The national live births and stillbirths’ statistics released Sept. 28, 2021 by Statistics Canada shows the stillbirth rate across Canada was 0.79%, 0.83%, 0.82%, 0.85%, and 0.85% from 2018 to 2021. The stillbirth rate in Waterloo from 2018 to 2021 provided by Grand River Hospital is lower than the national stillbirth rate in the last five years.
In conclusion, stillbirth rate in Ontario is not rising significantly after the vaccination was rolled out there.
3. Additional evidence and conclusion
A report published Nov. 26, 2021 by U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention claims that among 1,249,634 delivery hospitalizations between March 2020 and Sept. 2021, U.S. women with COVID-19 were at increased risk for stillbirth compared with women without COVID-19. It advocates implementing evidence-based COVID-19 prevention strategies, including vaccination before or during pregnancy and considers vaccination critical to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on stillbirths.
Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
- Facebook, post, Nov. 24, 2021.
- Statistics Canada, “Vital Statistics – Stillbirth Database (CVSS).”
- Statistics Canada, “Data quality, concepts and methodology: Definitions.”
- Substack, “Latest devastating news on the vaccine,” Nov. 8, 2021.
- Circulation, “Mrna COVID Vaccines Dramatically Increase Endothelial Inflammatory Markers and ACS Risk as Measured by the PULS Cardiac Test: a Warning,” 8, 2021.
- Circulation, “Author Instructions.”
- Circulation, “Expression of Concern: Abstract 10712: Mrna COVID Vaccines Dramatically Increase Endothelial Inflammatory Markers and ACS Risk as Measured by the PULS Cardiac Test: a Warning,” 24, 2021.
- Government of Ontario, Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
- BORN Ontario, Homepage.
- BORN Ontario, Governance.
- Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), About CHEO.
- Grand River Hospital, Homepage.
- Global News, “Fact check: COVID-19 vaccines are not causing a rise in stillbirths in Canada,” 25, 2021.
- CTV News, “‘These statistics are erroneous’: Local hospitals dealing with misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines causing stillbirths,” Nov. 29, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Risk for Stillbirth Among Women With and Without COVID-19 at Delivery Hospitalization — United States, March 2020–September 2021,” Nov. 19, 2021.