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The claim: Danish soccer star Christian Eriksen, who collapsed mid-match, had recently received Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine
A Danish soccer player's recent collapse is being misconstrued on social media as a reaction to the coronavirus vaccine.
On June 12, during the UEFA European Football Championship, Christian Eriksen suddenly collapsed on the field. Eriksen is a midfielder for Inter Milan and the Denmark national team.
USA TODAY reported that, 43 minutes into the match between Denmark and Finland, Eriksen suddenly staggered and fell forward while preparing for a throw-in on the sideline. The Denmark team doctor told reporters Eriksen had gone into cardiac arrest, but that he was "OK considering the circumstances."
In the flurry of social media posts that followed, a Czech blogger's tweet saying Eriksen had recently received a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine went viral. Soon after, users on Twitter, Facebook and Telegram began to share the post and speculate the COVID-19 vaccine caused Eriksen's heart to stop.
But there is no link between Eriksen's collapse and the COVID-19 vaccine. He wasn't vaccinated.
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USA TODAY reached out to several users who posted screenshots of the tweet for comment.
Eriksen wasn't vaccinated
The rumor began to spread after Luboš Motl quote-tweeted a post saying Inter Milan's chief medic had told Radio Sportiva, an Italian station, that Eriksen had recently been vaccinated with Pfizer's COVID-19 shot.
"The chief medic and cardiologist of (Inter Milan) confirmed on an Italian radio station that Eriksen has received the Pfizer vaccine on May 31st," Motl said in the tweet.
However, Radio Sportiva denied that claim, causing Motl to delete the original tweet. But multiple Facebook users, as well as anti-vaccine groups on Telegram, continued to spread the claim using a screenshot of the tweet.
On June 12, Inter Milan team director Giuseppe Marotta put the rumors to rest when he told Rai Sport, an Italian sports TV channel, that Eriksen "didn't have COVID and wasn't vaccinated either."
VAERS possibly at root of speculation
Speculation about Eriksen's collapse could be rooted in misconceptions about the Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS), a government-run database that anti-vaccine advocates regularly use to discourage vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration run VAERS as an “early warning system” to detect safety problems associated with vaccines. Anyone can submit reports to VAERS, which are not all subject to verification.
In another tweet, Motl again speculated the vaccine had caused Eriksen's collapse. His evidence: reports from VAERS.
"Thousands have died from the Covid vaccines, CDC reports. And yes, I think that Eriksen, the Danish soccer star who collapsed on the pitch was more likely than not a heart muscle inflammation victim due to a Pfizer or Moderna Covid vaccine, too," Motl wrote.
As USA TODAY has reported, reports of adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination do not necessarily mean the vaccines are to blame. However, the CDC is investigating reports of myocarditis, a heart inflammation condition, in teenagers and young adults who received vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
Our rating: False
The claim that Danish soccer player Christian Eriksen collapsed as a result of receiving a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is FALSE, based on our research. The director of Eriksen's club team, Inter Milan, said Eriksen had never received a coronavirus vaccine.
Our fact-check sources:
USA TODAY, June 12, Denmark's Christian Eriksen awake, stable after collapsing on field at Euro 2020
USA TODAY, April 8, Fact check: CDC Data on Vaccine Adverse Events Cannot Determine Cause
Lubos Motl, June 12, tweet
Lubos Motl, June 12, tweet
Radio Sportiva, June 12, tweet
Reuters, June 13, Inter director says Eriksen did not have COVID and was not vaccinated
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 27, Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 14, Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Christian Eriksen didn't receive COVID-19 vaccine