The American-Canadian star, best known for his portrayal of sarcastic joker Chandler Bing in Friends, was found dead in his jacuzzi in the Pacific Palisades neighbourhood of Los Angeles on Saturday in an apparent drowning.
The 54-year-old’s cause of death remains unclear, with an initial post-mortem coming back as “inconclusive”. A report released by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s office said that the official cause of death is not likely to be declared for a few weeks.
But that did not stop a number of prominent right-wing anti-vax accounts from blaming Mr Perry’s death on the Covid-19 vaccine.
Kandiss Taylor, a former Republican candidate for governor of Georgia and current GOP chair of Georgia’s first congressional district, was one of the people to make such a claim.
“What??? Was he vaccinated?” she wrote in response to news of his death on X.
Anti-vaxxers also allegedly edited Mr Perry’s Wikipedia page to say, “It is unclear whether the drowning was due to complications from the COVID-19 vaccine.” The unfounded claim has since been deleted, the Rolling Stone reported.
Anti-vax accounts on X have previously falsely linked celebrity deaths to the Covid-19 vaccine.
In January, conspiracy theorists attempted to link the death of Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley to vaccines after she was found in cardiac arrest at her home, but X users were quick to condemn the comment.
Vaccines have been linked to heart problems such as Myocarditis, which can cause cardiac arrest, but it is extremely rare.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that between the ages of 18 and 29, it affects no more than 11.6 vaccinated young men per 100,000 – that is, around 0.01 per cent.
Research has also shown that the risk of myocarditis is considerably higher from contracting Covid-19 than from getting vaccinated against it.
Ms Presley was later found to have died from a bowel obstruction caused by weight-loss surgery she had undergone several years before.
Conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Mr Perry came after he took the Covid-19 vaccine in May 2021.
The Friends actor previously detailed in his memoir his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction following his ascent to international stardom, aged 24.
The actor’s substance abuse began when he started drinking at the age of 14 before he became addicted to Vicodin, OxyContin, and Xanax, he revealed in his bestselling 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.
He said he first entered rehab in 1997, at the height of his Friends fame, after he became addicted to Vicodin following a jet-ski accident, and was admitted to rehab a further 14 times.
The actor also revealed he had 14 surgeries on his stomach due to gastrointestinal perforation stemming from his opioid abuse before his colon burst from excessive opioid use when he was 49.
He then spent two weeks in a coma and five months in the hospital. “The doctors told my family that I had a 2 per cent chance to live,” he wrote in his memoir.
“I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that’s called a Hail Mary. No one survives that,” he added.
The actor estimated he spent $9m on his addiction battle.
Meanwhile, in late 2020, Mr Perry was forced to pull out of filming for Adam McKay’s climate change satire Don’t Look Up after his heart stopped for five minutes.
In his memoir, he said his ribs had to be broken to resuscitate him.
Following his death, Mr Perry’s family released a statement to People, saying: “Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend. You all meant so much to him and we appreciate the tremendous outpouring of love.”
Supporting actors from Friends also paid tribute to the 54-year-old.
Morgan Fairchild, who played Chandler’s mother, Nora Bing, said: “I’m heartbroken about the untimely death of my ‘son’ … The loss of such a brilliant young actor is a shock.”
Meanwhile, Maggie Wheeler, who played Chandler’s love interest Janice, shared a picture of them together on Instagram with the caption: “What a loss. The world will miss you Matthew Perry. The joy you brought to so many in your too short lifetime will live on. I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared.”
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who was a friend of Perry’s at school, called the star’s death “shocking and saddening”. He wrote: “I’ll never forget the schoolyard games we used to play, and I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy he brought them. Thanks for all the laughs, Matthew. You were loved – and you will be missed.”