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A man can die but once

Argentine TV reports William Shakespeare died after COVID vaccine

News anchor errs by just about 400 years, confusing the famous bard with a British man with the same name who died last week of an illness unrelated to the shot

William Shakespeare (John Taylor, National Portrait Gallery, Wikimedia Commons, public domain)
William Shakespeare (John Taylor, National Portrait Gallery, Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

To this day, it isn’t known how the famed English poet and playwright William Shakespeare died. Last Thursday, an Argentinian news anchor offered a new, original theory — that he succumbed to a stroke five months after becoming the first man in the world to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Well, not quite. Rather, in what has been described as a comedy of errors, she confused “one of the most important writers in the English language,” who died in 1616, with a British man with the same name who died last week.

William “Bill” Shakespeare, 81, was the second person (and the first man) in the world to receive Pfizer’s shot outside of a clinical trial, last December.

The former Rolls-Royce employee, an inpatient at University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire, died last Thursday of a stroke unrelated to the vaccine, the hospital said.

A nurse administers the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine to patient William “Bill” Shakespeare (L), 81, at University Hospital in Coventry, central England, on December 8, 2020. (Jacob King / POOL / AFP)

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Joy, two sons and his grandchildren.

But Noelia Novillo, a newsreader for Argentina’s Canal 26 network, mixed him up with his famous namesake in her report Thursday evening.

“We’ve got news that has stunned all of us given the greatness of this man,” she said, according to a translation from Spanish by The Guardian. “We’re talking about William Shakespeare and his death. We’ll let you know how and why it happened.

“As we all know, he’s one of the most important writers in the English language – for me the master. Here he is. He was the first man to get the coronavirus vaccine. He’s died in England at the age of 81.”

Novillo later attempted to minimize the damage by claiming she had been misunderstood.

“I expressed myself badly; I missed out a full stop, a comma, some brackets. I wanted to clear up something that was very unclear and of course people misinterpreted it,” she said.

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