Social media users have made claims, contrary to expert medical advice, that eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise will enable the human immune system to fight off COVID-19 alone and without the need of vaccination. In reality, otherwise healthy people have contracted COVID-19 and some have experienced severe cases. Vaccination greatly reduces the severity of the illness if a breakthrough infection occurs. The AP has fact-checked this claim.
Following a leaked internal report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA that suggested that vaccinated people can still transmit COVID-19, social media users and anti-vaccination activists have spread misinformation attempting to undermine public trust in vaccine effectiveness. In some cases, they are falsely claiming that vaccinated people with breakthrough infections carry a greater viral load than is found in the unvaccinated, when in reality the report claims the viral load is similar. Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in vaccinated people are statistically rare and are far less likely to result in hospitalisation or death compared to cases among those who have not been vaccinated. Politifact has fact-checked these claims.
A tweet from an emergency room doctor expressing dismay at the increase in hospitalisations due to the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the USA went viral. However, social media users with a history of spreading COVID-19 misinformation copied and pasted the message across multiple accounts to make the tweet seem like a coordinated effort at pro-vaccine propaganda done through bots in order to undermine the credibility of the initial message. However, the original tweet contains the legitimate concerns and experiences of an actual physician. The AP has fact-checked this.
A digitally-altered image of a box for the AstraZeneca vaccine purports to show a manufacture date in 2018, more than a year before the outbreak of COVID-19. Conspiracy theorists are using the doctored image to bolster their claims of a so-called ‘plandemic’. However, the photo is a fake and AstraZeneca did not begin manufacturing its vaccine in 2018. Only an expiration date, not a production date, is included on its packaging. Reuters has debunked this story.
False controversy has been generated online with claims that PCR tests are being revoked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. The rumours falsely claim that PCR tests have been proven to be unreliable and confuse SARS-CoV-2 with influenza. In reality, PCR tests are the ‘gold standard’ for detecting COVID-19, and modern ones can also detect and differentiate between it and influenza. The AP has fact-checked this claim.
Fact-checked: No, data collected by a website cannot be used as a control in clinical vaccine trials
Posts on social media have been advocating for registering with a website that purports to be collecting data on unvaccinated people to serve a control group for vaccine studies. Those joining the site and submitting data are promised an ID card that displays their status as unvaccinated and are encouraged to buy merchandise and make donations to the site. However, no health body recognises this website as part of any actual clinical trials, which are done at specific times under specific circumstances. Data crowdsourced from the public would not be suitable for randomised control groups in clinical trials. Reuters has fact-checked the claims made by proponents of this website.
Debunked: No, the Irish government cannot vaccinate the children of unmarried parents against their will
Posts shared on social media contend that the children of unmarried parents could receive mandated vaccinations from the government due to the way family is defined in the Irish Constitution. This is allegedly proved in conjunction with a Supreme Court ruling in 2012 which concerned parents disagreeing over childhood vaccinations. In reality, this is a misrepresentation of both the court case (which actually occurred in 2013) and the Constitution. Article 42A of the constitution protects the rights of all children and the marriage status of their parents is irrelevant. The Journal has debunked this claim and explains in detail the 2013 Supreme Court case and the relevant sections of the Constitution.
Social media users are contending that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is caused by the vaccines themselves as part of a money-making scam to create a problem and sell a solution. Mutations such as the Delta variant occur within live hosts who have contracted the virus. They result from errors made during virus replication. The mRNA vaccines do not contain the COVID-19 virus and no vaccine can replicate a virus. Reuters has debunked this claim.
Stemming from a misstatement made by a health official in the UK, social media users have been spreading a false statistic that 60% of hospital admissions for COVID-19 have received two vaccination doses. The official corrected his misstatement after the fact. The actual figure is the opposite: 60% of the COVID-19 hospitalisations in the UK are unvaccinated. The AP has fact-checked this claim.
Rumours online state that the New England Journal of Medicine has found that pregnant women who received the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines had an 82% rate of miscarrying. The data in the study is misrepresented; in reality, the rate of spontaneous miscarriages in the study is 12.6% and the authors of the report state that there are not ‘obvious safety signals’ in their findings to discourage pregnant women from receiving the mRNA vaccine. Lead Stories has fact-checked this rumour.
Check the Facts
There are many factchecking websites and organisations working hard to help you identify what is accurate and reliable and what is not.
FactCheck from The Journal.ie is Ireland’s only verified signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network Code of Principles, with commitments to non-partisanship, fairness, and transparency
FactCheckNI is Northern Ireland’s only verified signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network Code of Principles, with commitments to non-partisanship, fairness, and transparency.
The Poynter Institute also supports fact-checking in a number of ways, including the Politifact website, the Corona Virus Fact Alliance and the Corona Virus Facts Database.
The International Fact Checking Network is a unit of the Poynter Institute dedicated to bringing together fact-checkers worldwide by promoting best practices and exchanges in this field, underpinned by a code of principles.
The MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network (TFCN) publishes daily fact-checks for teenagers, by teenagers and is a verified signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network’s code of principles.
Full Fact is a team of independent fact checkers and campaigners who find, expose and counter the harm that misinformation does
Snopes is the oldest and largest fact-checking site online and labels stories as ‘True’, ‘Mostly, ‘True’, ‘Mixture’, ‘Mostly False’ or ‘False’.
iHealthFacts is a Galway-based team doing science-heavy factchecks on COVID-19
Interrogate the data for yourself.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control provides situation updates for Europe
The Health Protection and Surveillance Centre provides Ireland-specific updates on COVID-19
The COVID-19 Data Hub is the official hub for COVID-19 statistics in Ireland
COVID-NMA is an international research initiative supported by the WHO and Cochrane. It shows all current trials and studies around COVID-19.