Mainstream news outlets claim COVID-19 more likely to cause blood clots than vaccines citing study where 100% of participants were vaccinated

The New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, and others pushed this story. The following is an investigation into these claims.

Earlier this week, Nicki Minaj caused a bit of a storm on Twitter when she tweeted to her 22.5 million followers that she was not vaccinated and was still doing research to decide if she should get the shot. In the replies she was viciously attacked, but some people shared their stories about vaccine side-effects including this one which she retweeted:

This is a truly horrific story which also triggered some people immediately to come to the defense of Big Pharma.

One person posted a link to a CNBC article claiming that blood clot risks from COVID are much higher than from the vaccines.

I hadn’t seen this before and it piqued my interest so I decided to take a look. I discovered that CNBC was not the only news outlet to report this. The New York Times, Bloomberg, Forbes, The Guardian, BBC, and several others published more or less the same story.

The study in question

All of these articles are referencing a study from the University of Oxford (curiously none of them actually provide a link to it) which can be viewed here:

Now here is where things get interesting. Even the University of Oxford themselves made this claim in the headline of the article they published:

Covid-19, not vaccination, presents biggest blood clot risks

Well here is the problem. The study only studied people who were VACCINATED.

Breaking it down

Let’s start with the title of the study itself:

Risk of thrombocytopenia and thromboembolism after covid-19 vaccination and SARS-CoV-2 positive testing: self-controlled case series study

Notice they used the word and here.

Here is the visual abstract from the study.

Now I will admit this is a little confusing since the chart does not make it clear that the “with SARS-CoV-2 infection” group is actually a subset of the vaccinated people who were observed, but this can be confirmed from the study’s text itself. It says in the Methods section:

We undertook a self-controlled case series from 1 December 2020 to 24 April 2021 (the latest date for which outcome data were available) to examine the associations between ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or BNT162b2 mRNA vaccines and thrombotic events during the ongoing covid-19 vaccination programme in England. We also investigated the association between a SARS-CoV-2 positive test and the thrombotic events of interest among the same vaccinated population.

I made the last part bold to draw attention to it. The study looked at how COVID infection influenced people who had already been vaccinated, not how COVID infection side-effects differed from vaccine side-effects.

Table 1 in the study makes this clear as well (note among vaccinated population):

How could so many news outlets get this so wrong?

The problem with the reporting is that the study in question does not conclude that the blood clot risk from COVID is much higher than the vaccine. It shows that vaccinated people who get COVID have a much higher risk of developing blood clots than people who are vaccinated and don’t have COVID.

The fact that even the University of Oxford who conducted the study went with this misleading headline has to make you wonder if these people really have our best interests in mind. The odds of a few people misinterpreting this study are fairly good since it is admittedly a bit confusing, but the odds of every news outlet making the same mistake are fairly low.

The mainstream media are supposed to be trusted sources of information that people can rely on. They constantly attack others for pushing “misinformation”, but I don’t know what else to call this. Not only is this misinformation, but it is potentially harmful. If vaccines put people at increased risk of blood clots then encouraging so many people to be vaccinated could cause excess deaths or harm down the road.

This isn’t just a hypothetical. This Tweet went viral yesterday about a 27 year old woman who died of a blood clot after having a breakthrough COVID infection while fully vaccinated.


Without monitoring unvaccinated COVID patients it is impossible to conclude that blood clots are less likely in people who are vaccinated vs. people who have COVID. In fact, an alternative hypothesis could be that the vaccines actually cause blood clots, and becoming infected with COVID while vaccinated enhances the severity.