Soccer Star’s Collapse Was Unrelated to COVID-19 Vaccine

SciCheck Digest

Danish soccer star Christian Eriksen is recovering well after he suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed during a match on June 12. But after the incident, social media posts falsely claimed he had recently been vaccinated for COVID-19 and suggested that led to his collapse. Team officials said he has not been vaccinated. 

How do we know vaccines are safe? How do we know vaccines are safe?

No vaccine or medical product is 100% safe, but large randomized controlled trials, involving tens of thousands of people and reviewed by multiple groups of experts, revealed no serious safety concerns and showed that the benefits outweigh the risks. 

As with any vaccine, safety is also being monitored as the shots are rolled out to members of the public to ensure there are no side effects of concern. A very small number of severe allergic reactions, for example — which are expected with any vaccine — have occurred with some of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC said the reaction – anaphylaxis – occurred in 2 to 5 people per million vaccinated. This reaction “almost always occurs” within a half hour of receiving a shot, and vaccination providers have medicine to immediately treat it, the CDC said.

Also, after investigating 15 cases of a rare clotting condition out of nearly 8 million Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, the CDC and Food and Drug Administration are warning of a suggested increased risk of the conditions, which occurred in women and resulted in three deaths as of April 21. The CDC said “women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination, and that other COVID-19 vaccines are available where this risk has not been seen.” For more, see “Q&A on the Rare Clotting Events That Caused the J&J Pause.” (As of May 24, the agencies had identified 32 total cases among more than 10.2 million J&J vaccines administered. There still have been three deaths, as of May 7, according to the CDC.)

For the COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC and FDA vaccine monitoring systems include a new smartphone-based tool called v-safe that allows enrollees to report any reactions to the vaccine.

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How can I report a potential safety issue? How can I report a potential safety issue?

The CDC and FDA have multiple surveillance systems. People are encouraged to submit information to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which predates this pandemic. Experts comb through the submissions to identify and follow-up on adverse reactions that might be due to the vaccine.

The CDC also debuted a smartphone-based tool called v-safe for COVID-19 vaccines. If you register for the program, you will be asked via text message how you are feeling every day for a week after vaccination and less frequently after that. If your answers indicate a potential problem, someone will contact you for more information.

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Danish soccer player Christian Eriksen was waiting to receive a throw-in during the first half of his team’s opening Euro 2020 match on June 12 in Copenhagen when he suddenly collapsed, suffering cardiac arrest. He received medical treatment on the field and was awake when he left. He since has undergone an operation and has been released.

But soon after he collapsed during the match, erroneous speculation emerged on social media appearing to link a COVID-19 vaccination to the incident. A since-deleted tweet falsely claimed Eriksen received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on May 31.

“Inter Milan Chief Medic and Cardiologist confirmed that he received the Pfizer vaccine 12 days ago,” read one tweet attributing the quote to Radio Sportiva. The claim has been reposted on Instagram and Facebook.

But Inter Milan’s director, Giuseppe Marotta, denied the claims and said Eriksen, who also plays for the Italian club, had no previous signs of health issues.

“He didn’t have COVID and wasn’t vaccinated either,” Marotta reportedly told Rai Sport.

Radio Sportiva also disputed the social media claims, saying on Twitter that the radio station never interviewed any Inter Milan officials about Eriksen’s condition.

Denmark’s match against Finland was nearing the half when Eriksen fell to the ground. The match was suspended after a lengthy delay as medical staff performed CPR and used a defibrillator to resuscitate him. He was taken to a hospital and was later reported to be in stable condition.

The Danish Football Union said in a tweet on June 17 that Eriksen would receive an implantable cardioverter defibrillator — a heart starter. The device is necessary after a “cardiac attack due to rhythm disturbances,” according to the sports organization.

Eriksen was discharged from the hospital on June 18 after a “successful operation,” the sports organization told CNN.

Christian Eriksen looks on during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken Stadium on June 12. Photo by Lars Ronbog/FrontZoneSport via Getty Images.

The speculation surrounding Eriksen’s vaccination status came as health officials investigate elevated cases of heart inflammation — particularly in young men — following their second dose of an mRNA vaccine. More than 300 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis following vaccination have been reported in teens and young adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I think this is probably a real phenomenon,” Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a hospital video. “But it is rare, occurring in about one in 50,000 recipients.”

Offit said the symptoms of myocarditis are normally short-lived and can involve chest pain and occasionally shortness of breath. The decision to vaccinate is still a safer choice, he said.

Dr. E Kevin Hall, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, said the patients his institution has seen with suspected post-vaccination myocarditis have done well and have been discharged.

“The cases of possible myocarditis as a result of the COVID vaccines appears to be very rare,” Hall told us in an email. “We believe the risks of COVID far outweigh the risks of the possible vaccine side effect.”

The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for any person over age 12. An advisory committee to the agency is expected to review the cases of myocarditis at a meeting this month.

Editor’s note: SciCheck’s COVID-19/Vaccination Project is made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation has no control over our editorial decisions, and the views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation. The goal of the project is to increase exposure to accurate information about COVID-19 and vaccines, while decreasing the impact of misinformation.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination.” Updated 27 May 2021.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “What Should I Know About COVID-19 Vaccine and Myocarditis in Teens?” 14 Jun 2021.

Church, Ben. “Christian Eriksen discharged from hospital after ‘successful operation.'” CNN. 18 Jun 2021.

Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field. He is responsive and awake.” New York Times. 12 Jun 2021.

Edwards, Erika. “Evidence grows stronger for Covid vaccine link to heart issue, CDC says.” NBC News. 10 Jun 2021.

Hall, E Kevin. Assistant professor of pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine. Email to FactCheck.org. 18 Jun 2021.

Inter director says Eriksen did not have COVID and was not vaccinated.” Reuters. 13 Jun 2021.

Klosok, Aleks. “Christian Eriksen thanks well-wishers, says he’s feeling ‘fine’ in first social media post since cardiac arrest.” CNN. 15 Jun 2021.

“Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Team and Public Health Officials.” Whitehouse.gov. 17 Jun 2021.

Silberner, Joanne. “Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine In Teens And Myocarditis: What You Need To Know.” NPR. 17 Jun 2021.


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