Paynesville — As the world continues the fight against Covid-19 including pushing for the vaccination of people, conspiracy theorists are also pushing their anti-vaccine campaigns.
Report By: Varney Kelvin Sirleaf, Local Voices Liberia Fact Checker
They are raising doubts about the efficacy of various vaccines as well as steps taken by public health authorities in the fight against the pandemic.
A photo of a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was photo-shopped with an inscription that reads: “Norway says the risk of dying from the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine is higher than [that] of Covid-19”.
The image was manipulated and published on June 24 with an article written by a purported Indian online platform, GreatGameIndia. Further fact check shows that the group has a long history in sharing conspiracy theories about COVID-19.
NewsGuard, which rates the credibility of news and information sites, has been tracking websites in the US, UK, Italy, Germany, and France that have spread verifiably false claims about the coronavirus. The site traced one increasingly popular coronavirus hoax to GreatGameIndia.com.
In February 2021, Aljazeera also reported that the site had been reporting misinformation about the origin of Covid-19.
In their attempt to attack the AstraZeneca vaccine, the site misinterpreted an article by Sputnik — a Russian news agency that promotes Russian-made vaccines. The Sputnik’s article, which was about vaccine side effect incidents in Norway, actually stated that “those who had experienced the side effects of the vaccine were not in a risk group for getting serious symptoms of COVID-19”. On the other hand, the article also raised some skepticisms about the AstraZeneca vaccine.
It was this article that GreatGameIndia further misinterpreted to mean that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was causing more deaths than the virus itself – a claim that is clearly incorrect.
And after these incidents were reported in Norway, the European Medicine Agency safety committee investigated the AstraZeneca vaccine said in an article that the vaccine’s proven efficacy can prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19. That the benefit of the vaccine outweighs the extremely small likelihood of developing some adverse events.
The EMA disclosed that the number of thromboembolic events or blood clot incidents amongst vaccinated people is far lower than what is being speculated about the vaccine side effect.
The WHO also said that the AstraZeneca vaccine has an efficacy of 63.09% against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Meanwhile, Norway is one of the European countries that was least affected by the pandemic until a spike in new cases begun May this year when daily infections surpassed 1,000 because of a new variant.
Based on our research, the claim as spread in the photo and the article by GreatGameIndia is incorrect and is mostly intended to mislead the public against what the WHO, the European Medicine Agency and other health experts have repeatedly disclosed about the efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
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LVL Fact Checking Desk is part of the Liberia Media Initiative co-financed by the European Union. The funder had no say in the production of this report.