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• Two of the doctors who died had previously been diagnosed with cancer, according to an obituary and media reports. The third doctor had been seriously ill, though his diagnosis was not disclosed, CTV News Toronto reported.
• The hospital where the doctors worked said their deaths were not related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
A renewed push for COVID-19 booster shots has also ushered in a new wave of misinformation, with social media posts suggesting that the vaccine booster was linked to the sudden deaths of doctors at one hospital in Canada.
"Three doctors from the same hospital ‘die suddenly’ in the same week," after the hospital mandated a fourth COVID-19 vaccine for employees, said a July 28 post on Instagram by The Gateway Pundit, a conservative website. The caption also said, "The hospital claimed that the social media rumor that their deaths were related to the COVID-19 vaccination is ‘simply not true.’"
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
What the Instagram post does not mention is that two of the doctors who died had previously been diagnosed with cancer, according to an obituary and media reports. And the third doctor had been seriously ill, though his diagnosis was not disclosed, CTV News Toronto reported.
Trillium Health Partners, which operates the hospital where the doctors worked, said in a July 27 tweet that the deaths were not linked to the COVID-19 vaccine.
"It is with deep sadness that THP mourns the loss of three of our physicians who recently passed away," the hospital tweeted. "Dr. Jakub Sawicki, Dr. Stephen McKenzie and Dr. Lorne Segall were respected physicians who dedicated their lives to caring for their patients and community."
The tweet continued, "The rumour circulating on social media is simply not true. Their passings were not related to the COVID-19 vaccine."
Trillium Health Partners’ website says it has three main sites: Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga Hospital and Queensway Health Centre. It is unclear from media reports whether all three doctors practiced at the same hospital sites.
The deaths appeared to occur in a short timeframe: Segall died on July 17; McKenzie on July 18; and while the exact date of Sawicki’s death was not clear, a memorial notice was distributed on July 21 and the funeral was held the next day, CTV News Toronto reported.
The Instagram post said the doctors "died suddenly," but details about their illnesses do not support that claim:
Sawicki’s wife said "her husband’s diagnosis of Stage 4 Gastric Cancer, Signet Ring Cell Adenocarcinoma, one of the most aggressive forms of stomach cancer, came as a shock last August," CTV News Toronto reported on July 27.
McKenzie’s office said "he had been ‘seriously ill’ leading up to his death and his office was permanently closed," according to CTV News Toronto. "The nature of his illness was not disclosed."
Segall’s obituary said he died "after a ridiculously unfair and hard fought year-long battle with advanced lung cancer."
An Instagram post says, "Three doctors from the same hospital ‘die suddenly’ in the same week," after the hospital mandated a fourth COVID-19 vaccine for employees.
The deaths were not sudden; two of the doctors had been previously diagnosed with cancer and the third had been seriously ill with an undisclosed ailment.
The hospital where the doctors worked said the deaths were not linked to COVID-19 vaccines.
We rate this claim False.
CTV News Toronto, "Ontario hospital network mourns loss of three doctors who died within a week," updated July 28, 2022
Instagram post, July 28, 2022
Twitter post, July 27, 2022
York Funeral Centre, "Lorne Segall," accessed July 29, 2022
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