We’re being censored, claim victims of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine

Vials labelled "Astra Zeneca COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo, in this illustration photo taken March 14, 2021
The Covid vaccine impacted people in different ways - Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Victims who suffered life-changing injuries from the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine say they have faced censorship on social media when trying to discuss their symptoms.

The Telegraph previously revealed the UK-based pharmaceutical giant is being sued in the High Court in a test case by a father-of-two who suffered a significant permanent brain injury as a result of a blood clot after receiving the jab in spring 2021.

A second claim is also being brought by the widower and two young children of a woman who died after having the jab.

Some who have experienced serious adverse reactions from the AstraZeneca vaccine, but who are not involved in the legal action, have been given “warnings” on social media websites such as Facebook when trying to talk to one another about their experiences.

They say they are being forced to “self censor” and speak in code to avoid having their support groups shut down.

In one instance, YouTube attempted to censor a video of testimony given by lawyers to the Covid Inquiry about vaccines, flagging the clip as a violation of its “medical misinformation policy”.

UK CV Family, a private Facebook group with 1.2k members for people left injured or bereaved from Covid vaccines, was started in November 2021 by Charlet Crichton after she suffered an adverse reaction from the AstraZeneca jab.

The 42 year-old, who was volunteering at a mass vaccination centre near her home in Folkestone, Kent, when she received her first vaccine, has since lost her sports therapy business and says she often spends weeks at a time bedbound.

“I set up the group because I was finding people online in the UK like me. And we felt we didn’t have anyone to talk to about it apart from each other,” Ms Crichton said.

UK CV Family is one of three vaccine bereaved groups to have been granted core-participant status in the Covid Inquiry, meaning they will be allowed to give evidence.

It describes itself as “not anti-vax” on its Facebook group, and asks members to “refrain from posting anything that suggests otherwise”.

Ms Crichton said: “We very quickly learned that we had to self censor, otherwise we’d be shut down.”

Account banned

Facebook blocked Ms Crichton from commenting at one stage “to prevent misuse” and there were occasions where her account was temporarily banned because her “activity didn’t follow our community standards”.

Ms Crichton claims breaches such as these came after she shared vaccine-related articles from legitimate sources and had conversations which used certain buzzwords, including “booster” and “vaccine”.

She also alleges that social media platforms “shadow banned” members who fell foul of the guidelines, a process which sees the algorithm hide some posts from others on the app.

“We are getting censored just because people are talking about their symptoms and trying to get peer support from people that do the same thing,” she said.

“It’s very, very difficult because we want to talk about what we’re going through. We need to talk about what we’re going through.”

Facebook said no content on the group had been removed, but did not comment on whether restrictions had been put in place on some members.

After two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Ms Crichton claims she suffered from myocarditis, which went undiagnosed for several months and led to her developing fibrosis, or scarring of the heart.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it had received several reports of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation) following Covid vaccination, including from people who have received the AstraZeneca jab.

She also now suffers from different arrhythmias, meaning her heart rate can suddenly go really fast, or drop severely low, at any random point in the day.

Her NHS record shows at least four logged events where medical professionals treated her for an “adverse reaction to SARS-CoV-2 vaccine”.

She has since lost her sports therapy business, which she ran for 13 years, and can no longer work. She has also spent more than £18,000 on private healthcare trying to get to the bottom of her symptoms.

Separately, it emerged that YouTube tried to censor videos of testimony given by lawyers to the Covid Inquiry about vaccines.

Stephen Bowie, a member of the Scottish Vaccine Injury Group (SVIG) – also a core participant in the Covid Inquiry – attempted to upload footage of a statement given in a hearing by Anna Morris KC, a lawyer representing those who have suffered injuries or bereavements from jabs, to his YouTube channel.

The platform flagged the clip, in which Ms Morris speaks about patients who died from blood clots and other side effects determined to have been caused by vaccines, as a violation of its “medical misinformation policy”.

Mr Bowie, who suffered a spinal stroke and blood clots after having the AstraZeneca vaccine, was told by YouTube: “We reviewed your content carefully, and have confirmed that it violates our medical misinformation policy.”

It added: “We know this is probably disappointing news, but it’s our job to make sure that YouTube is a safe place for all.”

YouTube has since allowed the video to be posted and admitted it sometimes makes “mistakes” when removing content.

Streamed live

The testimony, which was given at a preliminary hearing on Sept 13 dealing with the inquiry’s fourth module on vaccines and therapeutics, was originally streamed live to YouTube via the Covid Inquiry’s official account.

In the video, Ms Morris KC, one of several lawyers representing UK CV Family, Vaccine Injured Bereaved UK (VIBUK) and SVIG, speaks about patients who died or were injured after suffering adverse reactions to Covid vaccines.

During the same hearing, it was revealed that people who had been left injured or bereaved from vaccines are being forced to speak in code online about their symptoms over fears of censorship.

Ms Morris KC told the inquiry: “Censorship is a very real issue for the vaccine injured and bereaved.

“Their support groups have been shut down by social media platforms and their experiences censored by the mainstream media.

Molly Kingsley, the co-founder of Us4Them, whose views on the vaccination of children were flagged by the Government’s Counter-Disinformation Unit, criticised YouTube for what she described as an “Orwellian” action.

“It should go without saying that for a social media platform to be flagging witness testimony given by a KC to the official UK Covid Inquiry is both sinister and utterly wrong,” she told The Telegraph.

“YouTube needs to urgently clarify on what basis and on whose instruction (if anyone’s) they have taken this Orwellian action.”

AstraZeneca has told The Telegraph that patient safety was its “highest priority”, that its vaccine, called Vaxzevria, had “continuously been shown to have an acceptable safety profile”, and that regulators around the world “consistently state that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of extremely rare potential side effects”.

Meta, which owns Facebook, did not wish to comment.