Fact check: No link between Air Force cadet's death, COVID-19 vaccine

The claim: Hunter Brown's death caused by the COVID-19 vaccine

A Feb. 5 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) features a screenshot of a tweet linking an Air Force cadet's recent death and the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Air Force Academy cadet died of blood clot in lung, autopsy finds – fatal blood clots are caused by C19 vaccines well documented in autopsy studies," reads the tweet, which includes a link to an article published by Task and Purpose.

The Instagram post's caption reads: "Another #DiedSuddenly brought to you by #Pfizer Moderna #WEF #Fauci #Biden the #DOD and the #CCP."

The Instagram post garnered more than 100 likes on the first day, while the original tweet garnered more than 10,000 likes in two days. Similar posts have been shared on Facebook and Instagram.

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Our rating: False

Hunter Brown, an Air Force cadet, died of a blood clot in his lungs caused by an injury to his left foot that he sustained during football practice several weeks earlier, according to his autopsy report. His death wasn't linked to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Brown's death was linked to football injury

On Jan. 9, Brown died from a blood clot in his lungs while walking to class, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette.

But the death investigation shows no link between the clots and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Brown's autopsy report said he suffered a Lisfranc (midfoot) injury in his left leg during football practice in November and had subsequently undergone surgery, according to the report. This caused blood clots to form in his leg, which led to the formation of blood clots in his lungs.

That sequence caused his death, Dr. Jarod Murdoch said in the autopsy report. He wrote:

"Based on the history, scene investigation, autopsy, virology, and toxicology findings, it is my opinion that Hunter Brown, a 21-year-old white male, died as a result of pulmonary thromboembolism due to deep vein thrombosis resulting from Lisfranc injury of the left lower extremity. The overall findings are consistent with this being an accidental death originating from an injury sustained during football practice several weeks prior to death."

Though Brown was vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Military.com, the autopsy report doesn't mention anything about the vaccine.

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Dr. Yazan Abou-Ismail, a hematologist at the University of Utah, and Abigail Capobianco, a Food and Drug Administration spokesperson, previously told USA TODAY that the Pfizer vaccine doesn't cause blood clots. The Moderna vaccine also hasn't been shown to increase the risk of blood clots, according to the University of Utah Health.

The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are associated with vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia, an extremely rare condition (two to 20 cases per million) that causes low platelet counts and blood clots to form, according to the University of Utah Health. Patients have experienced myocarditis following COVID-19 vaccination but it only occurs in about one out of 100,000 people who get one of the mRNA vaccines, Dr. William Petri, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Virginia, previously told USA TODAY.

Health officials and experts say the minimal risk associated with COVID-19 vaccines is far less than the complications associated with COVID-19 infections for the unvaccinated.

USA TODAY has debunked an array of other social media posts that baselessly connected COVID-19 to the deaths of celebrities, including bodybuilder Doug Birnole, singer Lisa Marie Presley, singer Jake Flint and DJ Might Mouse.

USA TODAY reached out to the Instagram and Twitter users who shared the posts for comment.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: No link between Air Force cadet's death, COVID-19 vaccine