Fans around the world were heartbroken to hear of Betty White’s death just weeks before her 100th birthday. Rumors quickly began to swirl about the circumstances of her death, with many speculating that the COVID-19 booster shot had a hand in her passing. Other celebrities have faced similarly ridiculous rumors. However, White’s agent is putting those false claims to rest.
No, A COVID-19 Booster Shot Did Not Cause White’s Death
The rumors began after a fake quote attributed to White started making the rounds on social media: “‘Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today.’ – Betty White, Dec. 28th, 2021.” This led many people to believe her death was caused by complications from the shot. She never said that, as her agent pointed out.
Jeff Witjas, White’s agent and friend, quickly put an end to the speculation, telling People, “Betty died peacefully in her sleep at her home,” he said in a statement. “People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier but that is not true. She died of natural causes. Her death should not be politicized — that is not the life she lived.”
“She never said that regarding the booster,” he continued. “Betty died of natural causes. She did not have the booster three days before she died.” While Witjas’ statement did clear up the booster shot rumors, many are curious about what White’s agent meant when he said “natural causes.”
What Does ‘Natural Causes’ Mean?
Dying of natural causes isn’t a medical term, Sarah Reuss, MD, a pathologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Health. “It’s more of a term used to communicate with people outside the medical field,” she continued.
“A lot of times, what we use to talk to each other [in the medical field] doesn’t make sense to people outside the field, so we have a lot of terms to help people outside the medical field better understand us,” Reuss said.
Erin McNeely, MD, an internal medicine physician at Spectrum Health in Michigan, agreed, saying that dying of natural causes can be compared to an old car breaking down. “The car rusts out, the engine stops, and things stop working over time,” she said. “Your body eventually just slows down and stops. Your pancreas, heart, and lungs stop working. It’s essentially multi-organ failure.”
When the phrase “natural causes” shows up on a death certificate, it typically means that the person wasn’t diagnosed with any one health condition, such as heart failure, or that they didn’t die in an accident.
While the initial report was that Betty died of natural causes, TMZ later reported that the official cause of death was complications from a stroke the legendary actress suffer six days before her death. The stroke was not caused by the Covid vaccine or the booster.