Fact-checking 5 viral Covid-19 vaccine falsehoods

Fact-checking 5 viral Covid-19 vaccine falsehoods

Since vaccines were first authorized for use nearly a year ago, swarms of anti-vaxxers have pushed a variety of unfounded claims suggesting the vaccine is unsafe and urging people not to receive one.

Even with 58.5% percent of Americans fully vaccinated and mandatory vaccines for federal employees and contractors set to go into effect, anti-vaccine misinformation is still commonplace.

From dead giraffes to baseless allegations of fraud against a vaccine manufacturer’s CEO, here are the facts behind a few of the recent claims that have been circulating.

Colorado hospitals

After Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order on October 31 allowing hospitals at capacity or “reasonably anticipated to reach capacity” to divert patients to different facilities or stop admitting new patients, some on social media have claimed his executive order allows hospitals to refuse treatment to individuals who have not received a Covid-19 vaccine.

“Colorado Governor mandates that hospitals do NOT have to treat the unvaccinated,” one tweet declared.

Facts First: This is false. The governor’s executive order does not mention vaccination status as a criterion for admitting patients.

While it’s possible some of those impacted by the order may be unvaccinated, the order does not target those individuals specifically. Its goal is to ease the burden on hospitals and “respond to the current rise in cases due to COVID-19 in Colorado.”

According to the latest data from Colorado’s health department, 93% of the state’s acute care hospital beds were in use and 80% of those currently hospitalized are unvaccinated.

The CEO of Pfizer

Last week, a conservative website published an article claiming that Albert Bourla, the CEO of pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which has manufactured one of the Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the US, was arrested and charged with fraud “for his role in deceiving customers on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 ‘vaccine.'”

The site, which purports to present “news stories of interest to Proud Canadians,” based the article and its claim on what it said was the word of an unnamed FBI agent.

Facts First: This is blatantly false.

In an email to CNN, Pfizer confirmed the claim was false, and the FBI told the AP that it did not have any information on the allegations.

“This claim is false, Dr. Bourla has not been arrested,” Pfizer media relations told CNN. “Additionally, he also had on air interviews with CNN the day of the false allegation.”

A search in the Federal Bureau of Prisons database revealed no inmate by the name of Albert Bourla.

A video of the Vice President

One clip circulating on social media purports to show Vice President Kamala Harris saying that virtually every individual hospitalized with Covid-19 is vaccinated.

In the video, Harris appears to say, “Virtually every person who is in the hospital, sick with Covid-19 right now, is vaccinated. I’m going to repeat that. It’s a fact. Virtually every person who is in the hospital right now, sick with Covid-19 is vaccinated. And even more regrettably virtually every person who has recently died from Covid-19 was vaccinated. The loss. The tragedy of that loss. Literally every person who has died from Covid-19 that we have recently been seeing was vaccinated.”

Facts First: This is false. The video was edited to make it appear Harris said the opposite of what she really said.

A video from the White House shows that at a vaccine mobilization event in July, Harris actually said, “Virtually every person who is in the hospital, sick with Covid-19 right now, is unvaccinated. I’m going to repeat that. It’s a fact. Virtually every person who is in the hospital right now, sick with Covid-19 is unvaccinated. And even more regrettably, virtually everyone who has recently died from Covid-19 was unvaccinated. The loss. The tragedy of that loss. Literally every person who has died from Covid-19 that we have recently been seeing was unvaccinated.”

In addition to this evidence of her actual remarks from a verified source, there are signs within the video suggesting it’s been distorted. At the start of the altered video, Harris actually touts the benefits of the vaccine, saying “the vaccine will protect you.” And before she repeats the false claim a second time, the video seems to skip to a section of video mid-applause.

Reuters was first to report that the video was altered and the audio edited.

Travis Scott concert

As the investigation continues into the deaths of several attendees at Travis Scott’s concert during the Astroworld music festival in Houston, there’s been a spate of false claims suggesting vaccines were responsible for the fatal crowd surge.

One Facebook post implied the magnetic frequencies in the music compelled the concert-goers to stampede toward the stage because the post claims there is graphene oxide in their system as a result of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat misinformation in partnership with PolitiFact.

Facts First: This is false. Graphene oxide is not included in the ingredient lists of any of the Covid-19 vaccines authorized for use in the US.

Ron Mertens, founder and CEO of Graphene-Info.com, a graphene news website, told PolitiFact that graphene oxide is “not magnetic and not a conductive material, so it cannot be used in the ways people suggest in such videos.”

Graphene oxide has several biomedical applications and at least one study suggests it could be effective in some vaccines. However, a Pfizer spokesperson told PolitiFact it is not used at Pfizer.

Dallas Zoo giraffes

Several social media posts, including one from an influential QAnon supporter, have suggested the deaths of three giraffes at the Dallas Zoo within the span of one month were caused by the Covid-19 vaccine.

As evidence, the posts include screenshots noting that the zoo had plans to vaccinate animals and that experts were investigating whether two of the giraffe deaths were connected, Newsweek reported.

Facts First: None of the giraffes were vaccinated and they died of a variety of other causes.

On October 3, the zoo euthanized a three-month old giraffe calf after she was injured. Auggie, a 19-year-old giraffe, died October 22 “after dealing with age-related health issues that led to liver failure,” the zoo said. According to the zoo, results from a blood test showed the third giraffe, a 14-year-old male named Jesse who died on October 29, had “abnormal liver enzymes.”

In a statement provided to CNN, zoo officials said they were investigating whether the last two deaths were connected but as of early November had yet to establish definitive proof.

Though the zoo did announce plans to begin vaccinating some of its animals, they had not done so when the giraffes died.

In a statement regarding the deaths of Auggie and Jesse, the zoo said: “We can say with certainty these deaths were not related to the COVID-19 vaccine. We are still on the waiting list to receive doses of the vaccine from Zoetis, so we have not begun to vaccinate any of our animals against COVID-19.”

The-CNN-Wire
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