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No, A Covid Shot Didn’t Kill Haiti’s President: Here Are The Latest (Debunked) Vaccine Myths Spreading Online

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at July 22, 2021

Topline

With the rapid spread of the delta variant stoking new fears worldwide, public health officials in the U.S. have turned an urgent spotlight on the threat of misinformation about coronavirus vaccines—here are some of the latest falsehoods that are making the rounds online.

Key Facts

That the vaccine is connected to the deaths of multiple world leaders, a conspiracy theory shared widely on social media following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise that connected his and other world leaders’ deaths to their opposition to Covid-19 vaccination—in fact, there is no evidence any of their deaths were connected to their vaccine responses and most hadn’t even taken a stance against the jab. 

That vaccines aren’t effective because they’re free, a claim shared thousands of times on Facebook in the form of a meme suggesting the shots would be expensive like insulin if they “actually saved lives,” but has been debunked by ample evidence of their efficacy in staving off severe disease and death. 

That the vaccines cause infertility among men, a falsehood that has appeared frequently in recent posts across the internet and evolved from longstanding (and equally unverified) concerns about the impact of vaccines in general on female fertility, but research has found no negative impact on sperm levels in men after receiving the jab. 

That the vaccines generate a protein harmful to the body, a falsehood originating from Canadian immunologist Byram Birdle, who claimed on a recent podcast the spike proteins generated by cells following vaccination are a toxin that can circulate in the body and damage tissues, though all vaccines currently approved in the U.S. are designed to generate harmless proteins and there is no evidence so far suggesting they are doing otherwise. 

That the vaccines have a cancer-causing ingredient, a falsehood stemming from a TikTok video viewed more than a million times—and boosted by prominent conspiracy theorists Alex Jones and Mike Adams—that claims to reveal a dangerous ingredient in Moderna’s mRNA vaccine, but instead shows the warning label for chloroform (which is not in any of the vaccines). 

Surprising Fact

These are just a few of the most prominent vaccine falsehoods that have emerged in recent months. They compound more common and recurring conspiracy theories like that the vaccines contain a microchip, alter DNA, and have the ability to “shed” from one person to another and kill people. Much of the false information that has gained steam in recent weeks stems from those core conspiracy theories. For example, a meme shared on Instagram recently circulated the baseless claim that people who eat meat are being inoculated because livestock and poultry are being immunized (none of this is true). Another source of misinformation is a subset of government officials—namely high-profile Republicans—who have been sowing doubt about the vaccines’ safety and pushing back against the Biden administration’s vaccination efforts.

Key Background

The Biden administration launched an offensive against vaccine misinformation last week, with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy deeming it an “urgent threat” to the country’s efforts to quash the pandemic. This push includes pressure on social media companies to more effectively crack down on bad actors, as well as an appeal to Americans to share correct information with their friends and family offline. Federal, state and local governments have tried many different tactics—including eye-popping incentives and door-to-door outreach—to boost inoculations. However, progress is still lagging, with less than 50% of the population fully vaccinated and 15 states still behind President Biden’s target of giving at least one dose to 70% of all residents. The mounting threat of the more infectious delta variant, which is driving a surge in cases and hospitalizations nationwide, has increased the urgency of raising immunization levels. Public health experts continue to emphasize the mounting evidence that nearly all coronavirus deaths are now preventable. 

Further Reading 

“Microchips, Magnets And Shedding: Here Are 5 (Debunked) Covid Vaccine Conspiracy Theories Spreading Online” (Forbes) 

“Surgeon General Reveals He’s Lost 10 Relatives To Covid As He Campaigns Against Vaccine Misinformation” (Forbes) 

“Anti-vaccine groups changing into ‘dance parties’ on Facebook to avoid detection” (NBC News) 

“The Life Cycle Of A Covid-19 Vaccine Lie” (NPR)

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