By Bill McCarthy, PolitiFact.com
Instagram posts: “DMX received COVID vaccine days before heart attack.”
PolitiFact’s ruling: False
Here’s why: DMX, the raspy-voiced rapper behind several hip-hop anthems such as “X Gon Give It to Ya” and “Party Up (Up In Here),” died April 9 at a hospital in New York, where he had been on life support after suffering a heart attack days earlier. The rapper, born Earl Simmons, was 50.
The hospital where DMX died said in a statement that he died “peacefully with family present after suffering a catastrophic cardiac arrest.”
It is not clear what preceded the rapper’s heart attack. But in the days surrounding DMX’s death, social media users circulated posts suggesting that the rapper died days after getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The implication: the vaccine made his heart fail.
Various social media posts sharing the same headline — “DMX Received Covid Vaccine Days Before Heart Attack” — got tens of thousands of interactions on Facebook and Instagram, according to CrowdTangle, a social media insights tool.
The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.
The source of the viral headline was MTO News, a gossip news site. One day before DMX died, the site quoted an unnamed family member as saying that DMX got his COVID-19 shot once he became eligible to receive it “so that he could go travel and perform, stuff like that.”
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PolitiFact could not verify the accuracy of the quotes or whether DMX was recently vaccinated before he died, as the headline claimed. MTO News did not respond to a request for comment, and our inquiries to DMX’s lawyer and manager also went unanswered.
But the MTO News article does not prove that DMX died because he received the COVID-19 vaccine. The statements from his family and the hospital did not mention a vaccine, and his longtime lawyer told several news outlets he was not sure what caused the heart attack. (He was responding to a tabloid report that said DMX had suffered a drug overdose.)
“You can get a COVID vaccine and still die from something else,” said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
MTO News “frequently publishes unsubstantiated claims based on unclear sourcing,” according to NewsGuard, a service that reviews and rates news and information sites according to nine basic journalistic criteria. NewsGuard identified several articles on MTO News that made false claims about celebrities’ sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as articles that embedded a doctored video about former President Donald Trump’s hair.
In 2020, PolitiFact rated False an MTO News headline attributing a fabricated quote about George Zimmerman to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The claim about DMX mirrors other social media posts that wrongly blamed COVID-19 vaccines for the deaths of other celebrities, such as baseball legend Hank Aaron. Aaron died after receiving his vaccine, but not because of it, we found.
The U.S. administered over 167 million COVID-19 vaccine doses between Dec. 14, 2020, and April 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the CDC’s vaccine safety surveillance program received 2,794 reports of death, affecting 0.00167% of recipients.
The agency wrote that after reviewing death certificates as well as autopsy and medical records for those people, it found “no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths.”
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Instagram posts claimed, “DMX received COVID vaccine days before heart attack.”
The rumor can be sourced to a website that purported to quote an unnamed family member. Statements from the rapper’s family and the hospital that kept him on life support after a heart attack did not mention the coronavirus or a COVID-19 vaccine.
Because this claim lacks evidence connecting a vaccine to his death, we rate it False.
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Instagram post (archived), April 9, 2021
Aubrey Huff on Twitter (archived), April 9, 2021
MTO News, “DMX Received Covid Vaccine Days Before Heart Attack – Family Says NO DRUGS! (EXCLUSIVE),” April 8, 2021
Washington News Post, “DMX Received Covid Vaccine Days Before Heart Attack – Family Says NO DRUGS! (EXCLUSIVE),” April 8, 2021
Snopes, “Did DMX Take COVID-19 Vaccine Days Before Heart Attack?” April 9, 2021
The Washington Post, “DMX, chart-topping rapper with gruff voice and hardscrabble life, dies at 50,” April 9, 2021
The Associated Press, “‘Nothing less than a giant’: Rapper-actor DMX dies at 50,” April 9, 2021
People, “DMX Dead at 50 a Week After Star Suffered Heart Attack: ‘A Warrior Who Fought Till the Very End,'” April 9, 2021
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination,” April 6, 2021
TMZ, “PROGNOSIS ‘NOT LOOKING GOOD’ AFTER OD … Kids Flying In,” April 3, 2021
PolitiFact, “Claim blaming COVID vaccine for Hank Aaron, Marvin Hagler deaths lacks evidence,” March 16, 2021
PolitiFact, “Deaths after vaccination don’t prove that COVID-19 vaccine is lethal,” Feb. 16, 2021
PolitiFact, “No evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine caused Hank Aaron’s death,” Jan. 16, 2021
PolitiFact, “No evidence Patrick Mahomes said he thinks George Zimmerman is innocent,” Feb. 6, 2020
Email interview with Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and chair of vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, April 12, 2021
Email correspondence with Joe Danielewicz, broadcast editor for NewsGuard, April 12, 2021