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Malaysia has had a moratorium on executions since 2018 as the country began debating abolishing the death penalty.
The country has supported COVID-19 vaccination; in 2021, the nation required federal employees to get vaccinated.
The Nuremberg Code is a set of principles related to medical experiments on humans. The COVID-19 vaccines are not experimental — they were deemed safe in clinical trials with willing participants.
A Facebook video is recycling a claim that alleges a doctor was executed in Malaysia for killing a person with a COVID-19 vaccine.
"Dr. Betsy Eads exposes the breaking news about MALAYSIAN DOCTOR PUT TO DEATH FOR GIVING COVID INJECTION under the (Nuremberg) Code," read a caption accompanying a video in an April 11 Facebook post.
In the video, which is from a Conservative Business Journal podcast in November, Eads said, "It’s come to my attention that in Malaysia, the first physician was put to death under the Nuremberg codes for giving the bioweapon vaccine and killing a patient."
The video has been circulating on social media since at least November 2022, when fact-checkers at Logically AI and Lead Stories found it to be misinformation. In January, Agence France-Presse fact-checkers debunked the same claim from Eads.
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The post is wrong on two counts:
First, Malaysia has had a moratorium on executions since 2018, and the country’s government has supported COVID-19 vaccination.
Second, the Nuremberg Code, a set of guidelines on medical experiments instituted after World War II, does not apply to COVID-19 vaccinations, as they are not experimental.
"That sounds like utter nonsense to me," said Meredith Weiss, a political science professor and director of the SUNY/CUNY Southeast Asia Consortium at the University at Albany in New York. "Malaysia does still have the death penalty, but also has a fairly competent judiciary – not flawless, but rule of law generally applies. COVID-19 vaccination rates are high, thanks to a robust state-led campaign to acquire vaccines and get them into Malaysians’ arms."
The Malaysian government has supported COVID-19 vaccination, and in 2021 required government employees to be vaccinated. Data from the Ministry of Health Malaysia and the Department of Statistics shows that about 84% of the nation’s residents had received at least two vaccine doses.
An April 2023 report by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency in Malaysia on adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccination reported there were more than 72 million vaccine doses administered in the country. The agency has a vaccine safety reporting system similar to the Vaccine Adverse Event Report System used in the U.S. It requires health professionals to report all adverse effects from vaccines, even if the cause is not clear. There were nearly 980,000 adverse effects reported, but 93% of those were not considered serious.
Of the 1,868 serious reports it received, 613 were reports for death cases. As of April 30, 585 of those cases had been evaluated by an expert committee, and three were found "likely to be related to the vaccination," the report said. A September 2022 report, the last one released before Eads’ claim, said that no deaths had been directly linked to the vaccine.
The Nuremberg Code relates to medical experiments on humans. COVID-19 vaccine critics have long argued baselessly that the shots are experimental, and thus breach the code. But the vaccines are not experimental, and have been authorized for use worldwide, including in Malaysia. The vaccines have been through clinical trials with volunteer participants.
In Malaysia, the government in 2018 put a moratorium on executions as the country grappled with abolishing the death penalty. In April, Malaysia’s Parliament passed a bill that ended mandatory death sentences for certain crimes and limited the number of crimes for which a person can be sentenced to death.
There is no sign that executions have resumed. In June, Amnesty International urged the country to maintain its moratorium until the death penalty is fully abolished.
We rate this claim False.
Meredith Weiss, political science professor and director of the SUNY/CUNY Southeast Asia Consortium at the University at Albany in New York, email exchange, Aug. 28, 2023
National Institutes of Health, The Nuremberg Code, accessed Aug. 28, 2023
The New England Journal of Medicine, Fifty years later: The significance of the Nuremberg Code, Nov. 13, 1997
Human Rights Watch, Malaysia repeals mandatory death penalty, April 11, 2023
Amnesty International, Malaysia: Resentencing process must be a fair and meaningful opportunity for commutation of death sentences, June 19, 2023
The Associated Press, Malaysia Parliament votes to scrap mandatory death sentences, April 3, 2023
Reuters, Malaysia scraps mandatory death penalty, natural-life prison terms, April 23, 2023
Reuters, Malaysia makes COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for government employees, Sept. 30, 2021
Yahoo News, Abolishment of mandatory death penalty gazetted, to come into force tomorrow, July 3, 2023
Malaysia Now, Act to abolish mandatory death penalty comes into force, July 3, 2023
Malaysia Ministry of Health, COVID-19 vaccination information, accessed Aug. 28, 2023
Malay Mail, Abolishment of mandatory death penalty gazetted, to come into force tomorrow, July 3, 2023
Malaysia Ministry of Health, The latest data on the National COVID-19 Immunisation Program, accessed Aug. 28, 2023
National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency, Summary Report on Adverse Events Following Immunisation of COVID-19 Vaccines in Malaysia, Sept. 20, 2022
National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency, Summary Report on Adverse Events Following Immunisation of COVID-19 Vaccines in Malaysia, April 30, 2023
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