A memo being circulated online purports to be a secret document from the Imperial College describing a conspiracy involving the UN, WHO, and others to keep the United Kingdom on permanent lockdown through inventing fake virus variants and ‘rebranding’ hay fever as a new version of COVID-19. The memo also states that outbreaks will be faked around anti-lockdown protests and sporting matches. The Imperial College has called it an ‘obvious fake’ and Reutershas debunked the document’s claims.
Footballer Christian Eriksen of Denmark collapsed on the field during the opening match of Euro 2020, which led to rumours that his cardiac arrest had been caused by COVID-19 or that it was due to receiving the vaccine. However, his club director at Inter Milan confirmed that the footballer neither had COVID nor was vaccinated. Reuters has fact-checked these rumours.
Online posts have asserted that the Greek letter names for COVID-19 variants are references to brain waves. Greek letters are used for naming throughout science and are not specific to brain waves. With regard to COVID-19 variants, this naming convention was established by the WHO as an alternative to place names, and thus avoid stigmatising the countries where the variants have been identified. The AP has debunked this assertion.
A recent article on a British website has claimed that taking the COVID-19 vaccine will exacerbate the disease’s effects through a phenomenon called ‘antibody dependent enhancement’, or ADE. This process is real and taken into account during clinical trials. There has been no evidence that ADE is a side effect of any of the COVID-19 vaccines. Fullfact has fact-checked the claim.
A Canadian professor has spread a fringe theory on a radio programme stating that the COVID-19 vaccine causes the creation of spike proteins which he claims can damage internal organs. The claim that these spike proteins are harmful have been refuted by scientists as being ‘completely inaccurate’ and an attempt to spread fear about vaccine safety. In reality, these proteins are harmless. This idea has been debunked by the AP.
Relying on reports from an open-source vaccine reaction database which hosts unverified claims, social media users have alleged that hundreds of women have miscarried after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. No causal link has been established between miscarriages and vaccination. The claims have been fact-checked by Lead Stories.
Users on social media have been sharing videos purporting to show a link between receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and becoming catatonic. Most of these videos predate the pandemic. In addition, no link has been found between vaccinations and catatonia. These videos have been debunked by Reuters.
Rumours spread on social media allege that the variants of COVID-19, often informally named after where they were first encountered, are randomised hoaxes perpetrated by governments potentially to encourage bigotry. Virus mutations occur naturally as they are transmitted through a population. This claim has been debunked by Reuters.
A former Pfizer employee has made multiple false claims regarding the pandemic on social media, including that those who have had the common cold are immune to SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19. The common cold is caused by several different types of viruses, not just coronaviruses. While research is being done on how different types of virus exposure may inhibit COVID-19 transmission, no findings have been conclusive. The Journal has debunked several of his claims.
A rumour is circulating on social media that women are receiving letters imploring them to get cervical cancer screenings, suggesting that cervical cancer is a side-effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. The letters are actually routine health check-up reminders. This rumour has been debunked by the AP
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.