The HMAS Sydney inside Jervis Bay in NSW (file image)
The Australian navy has shot down claims personnel have experienced a spike in myocarditis. Image by AAP IMAGES/SUPPLIED

‘Australian Navy stats’ meme torpedoed and sunk by facts

AAP FactCheck December 3, 2021

There have been 1113 cases of myocarditis in the Australian navy in 2021.


False. Australia's Department of Defence said the details are false. The figure has been taken from a claim about the US military.

A meme on Facebook claims the Royal Australian Navy recorded 1113 cases of myocarditis in service personnel this year, compared with 317 in the previous 31 years – intimating COVID-19 vaccination for the incredible spike.

But the claim is not true as the statistics are not from the navy. The Department of Defence confirmed to AAP FactCheck that details are false, labelling it as “misinformation”.

The meme reads: “AUS Navy Stats: In 31 years there have been 317 cases of myocarditis in service personnel. This year, up to 28th September 2021, there have been: 1,113 cases of myocarditis. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to crack this case! Are there any journalists out there? Any at all?”

Other examples of the meme are here and here.

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration states myocarditis is a rare cardiovascular side-effect that “that may occur after vaccination with the mRNA vaccines Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna)”.

In Australia there have been 568 suspected myocarditis cases reported in association with the Pfizer vaccine from 23.4 million doses up to November 14. Of the those cases, 315 were categorised as likely myocarditis.

A Defence spokesman told AAP FactCheck in an email that the “social media post is misinformation and completely false”.

A tweet shared on October 18 conceded the figures were taken from the US military and the 1113 figure was from reports collected by VAERS Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) – the early warning system to detect possible safety problems in US-licensed vaccines.

AAP FactCheck has previously reported on how VAERS has been used to mislead on links between vaccines and adverse reactions.

The likely source of the 1113 reports of myocarditis and the US military comes from a video of US orthopaedic and spinal surgeon Lee Merritt. Speaking about COVID vaccination in the military, Dr Merritt mentions myocarditis and says: “In 31 years of the VAERS there were 317 cases, now this year 1113” (video mark 1min 3sec).

The footage was taken at an America’s Frontline Doctors event in July. The group is known for fringe remedies for COVID-19. A report on the event by the conspiracy website Daily Veracity also features the video of Dr Merritt’s speech and quotes the 1113 figure.

Dr Merritt has also previously claimed the SARS-CoV2 virus is a genetically engineered bioweapon and vaccination increases the risk of death from COVID-19.

Australia’s guidance on myocarditis notes that “a small increased risk of pericarditis and/or myocarditis has been observed in people who have received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (including Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna), compared to unvaccinated people”. However, it adds that COVID infection is associated with a substantially higher risk of myocarditis and other heart problems compared to vaccination.

The Verdict

The post’s claim is false. There have not been 1113 cases of myocarditis in the Australian navy this year. The source of figure comes from a doctor speaking about the US military and quoting case numbers from America’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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