Home / Post
COVID-19 vaccines logical fallacy

COVID-19 vaccines aren’t causing spikes in cancer and HIV diagnoses

A Facebook post shared more than 2,000 times falsely claims that COVID-19 vaccines are causing cancer and HIV — but this has been widely disproven. Let’s take a look at the facts.

A Facebook post that says, “Y’all The shot is giving ppl cancer & HIV :CHECK SC IN COMMENTS.” The News Literacy Project has added a label that says FALSE.
COVID-19 vaccines don't cause cancer or HIV.
Extensive data from clinical trials and from the global vaccine rollout — which now tops 7 billion administered doses — show no link between the shots and cancer or HIV.
Multiple screenshots of comments — referred to as SCs in the post — were shared by this same account as an attempt to “support” this claim.
These anecdotes aren’t evidence of a connection.

NewsLit takeaway

Rumors that mistake coincidental events — in this case, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines with anecdotes of people getting diagnosed with cancer and HIV — rely on the logical fallacy of questionable cause, or confusing correlation with causation. Additionally, this rumor commits the base rate fallacy by ignoring the typical rate at which people are diagnosed with cancer and HIV — and failing to account for the growing percentage of the population that is vaccinated. In other words, with 67% of the American population now vaccinated with at least one dose, a significant portion of people who are diagnosed with cancer — or any other health condition — will also, coincidentally, be vaccinated. These same fallacies have driven falsehoods about coincidental deaths and COVID-19 cases as well as misinformation involving the vaccinated in Israel.


NLP’s viral rumor rundown is a regular feature in The Sift, its weekly email newsletter for educators, and in Get Smart About News, its weekly email newsletter for the general public. You can subscribe to these newsletters here. Send suggestions, questions or feedback on this rumor or on the viral rumor rundown blog to thesift@newslit.org.