Simon Thornley retracts bogus vaccination miscarriage claim

Controversial Auckland University academic Simon Thornley admits he got it wrong and has retracted a paper incorrectly claiming pregnant people were highly likely to miscarry if they received the Covid-19 vaccine.

Covid-19 vaccination. File image.

Dr Thornley told 1News he and epidemiologist Aleisha Brock made a major mathematical error in a recent paper, which led them to falsely conclude that those in pregnancy will miscarry if they have the Covid-19 vaccination.

He admitted that they were wrong and said he and Brock "never intended to frighten pregnant people".

The retraction came after the head of Auckland University's School of Population Health Professor Robert Scragg took an "extraordinary step" to email staff and "publicly criticise" his colleague over the paper and urged him to publicly retract it.

Professor Scragg said "papers shows that Covid-19 vaccination does not increase the risk of miscarriage and that women who are currently pregnant or planning to get pregnant can safely receive the vaccine".

"Brock and Thornley should immediately publicly retract their article because of the anxiety it is creating for expectant parents and those planning to have a child," he wrote to colleagues.

Professor Scragg wrote that the paper was published in a "low ranking non-indexed journal called Science, Public health Policy and the Law".

Professor Scragg said Thornley and Brock made a major error and used an "incorrect denominator" which led to the major miscalculation, after they claimed that "80-90 per cent of pregnant women will miscarry if they have the Covid-19 vaccination".

Thornley declined to apologise but admitted the claim was totally false and said he and Brock "never intended to frighten pregnant people".

Thornley said he contacted the Science, Public Health Policy and the Law journal last week to try to make corrections and has now fully retracted the paper and its claims.

In the now-retracted paper, Thornley and Brock suggested the withdrawal of the vaccine for people who were pregnant, breastfeeding and for children and people who were of 'child-bearing age'.

Thornley is the spokesperson for a group that believes Covid does not warrant lockdowns and the elimination strategy.