Press "Enter" to skip to content

Experts Debunk Claims From New Anti-Vax Documentary

A so-called documentary about COVID-19 vaccines prompted the latest social media effort by physicians to dispel dangerous medical misinformation.

Jonathan Laxton, MD, of the University of Manitoba Max Rady College of Medicine in Winnipeg, is one of those experts leading the effort to set the record straight. He called the claims made in the film — titled “Died Suddenly” — “blatant lies.”

“My first impression was it’s just basically over-the-top lies made to scare people away from getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” Laxton told MedPage Today. “I think it’s so over-the-top that it actually won’t convince anybody who doesn’t already believe it.”

“Died Suddenly” was simultaneously released on Twitter and Rumble on November 21, and has been viewed more than 12 million times.

It features several embalmers and funeral directors who claim to be coming forward for the first time to share their concerns over supposedly unusual blood clots found in deceased individuals they prepared for burial. But the main individual featured in the film is Ryan Cole, MD, who has a history of promoting false claims about the COVID vaccines and cancer.

Katrine Wallace, PhD, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois — Chicago School of Public Health, debunked several of the claims from the film on her social media accounts, where she has become known for her work in pushing back against public health disinformation. She said the film follows a consistent pattern for disinformation campaigns.

“A lot of the tropes in this video are rehashed,” Wallace told MedPage Today. “They just throw everything at the wall because something is going to appeal to someone’s emotions.”

‘Science Is Not Done on Rumble’

The film focuses on two main claims against COVID-19 vaccines: extensive blood clots, and the sudden onset of cancer.

Eric Burnett, MD, of Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, said neither of those claims holds up to scrutiny.

“I see a lot of blood clots in the hospital,” Burnett told MedPage Today. “Just looking at those blood clots from the movie, they look like very common postmortem blood clots, and I feel like it was just the shock and awe value of using these images of blood clots taken out of context to scare people.”

One scene in the film that featured the removal of a large blood clot during a heart surgery was actually footage of a pulmonary embolectomy in 2019, which Burnett discovered via a Google search.

“To suggest that people are walking around with these massive clots filling up arteries and veins, without being symptomatic, without seeking medical attention for them, is a little hard to believe,” Burnett said.

As for the cancer claims, Laxton said Cole started pushing that misinformation in April 2021, just one month after most people had access to the COVID-19 vaccines.

“[It’s] biologically implausible for any carcinogens or cancer-causing agents to suddenly produce cancer within a month of exposure,” he said.

Wallace emphasized that these easily disproven claims underlie one of the most confounding elements of disinformation films like this one.

“If this is happening, why do they not coordinate some effort to publish this case series of strange postmortem events so that the medical community can comment on it?” Wallace said. “If Dr. Ryan Cole really has seen hundreds of thousands of weird cases in his microscope, why is he not publishing those cases?”

Wallace noted that when cases of myocarditis with the mRNA vaccines and blood clots linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine appeared, researchers published case studies and the medical community reviewed and commented on them. If cases like the ones presented in the film exist, then Cole should follow the standard scientific practice to review that data with the wider medical community, she said.

“Science is not done on Rumble,” Wallace said. “That’s not how we do things.”

Ongoing Fight Against Misinformation

Experts said the constant fight against misinformation and disinformation can be exhausting.

Wallace, who posts TikTok videos and Twitter threads debunking COVID misinformation, said she never intended to be a social media public health influencer. Nonetheless, she believes more researchers and healthcare professionals should consider sharing their perspectives with a wider audience.

“I do encourage other people to do it too just because there is no end to the energy on the anti-vaccine and medical misinformation side of things to create new lies, recycle old lies, and create new content [to] scare people,” Wallace said. “The more voices we have that are sensible voices, the more we get the right information out there the better, because people believe this.”

Burnett agreed that pushing back against false claims and misinformation is a necessary burden for medical professionals.

“What’s more concerning for me is that there’s actual physicians that they had on that documentary who were propagating this nonsense,” he said. “If it’s just some random person — like your conspiracy theorist uncle — who’s saying this stuff, that’s one thing, but when there’s a doctor who has credentials, those credentials carry a lot of weight.”

Having credentialed medical professionals pushing these false claims provides an air of legitimacy, Burnett said. It’s becoming even more important to have conversations with patients about these claims, he added.

If more medical professionals speak out against false claims like those made in this video, it will make the efforts to push back easier for everyone and less of the burden would fall to a few self-selected individuals, Laxton said. Still, the best thing medical professionals can do is talk to their patients about these topics, he added.

“I think the [greatest] good healthcare workers can do is with individual patients,” Laxton said. “Being aware of this information, and when you have a patient talking to you about it, you already have a trust relationship with them. That’s very powerful to use that to help your patients out.”

  • Michael DePeau-Wilson is a reporter on MedPage Today‚Äôs enterprise & investigative team. He covers psychiatry, long covid, and infectious diseases, among other relevant U.S. clinical news. Follow

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Source: MedicalNewsToday.com