Alerts are categorized as high, medium, and low risk.
  • High risk alerts: Narratives with widespread circulation across communities, high engagement, exponential velocity, and a high potential to impact health decisions. Are often more memorable than accurate information.
  • Medium risk alerts: Narratives that are circulating in priority populations and pose some threat to health. Potential for further spread due to the tactics used or because of predicted velocity. Often highlights the questions and concerns of people.
  • Low risk alerts: Narratives that are limited in reach, don’t impact your community, or lack the qualities necessary for future spread. May indicate information gaps, confusion, or concerns.

 Advocates of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin as a COVID-19 cure have continued to claim that the efficacy of the drug is being covered up by pharmaceutical companies and the government, while also criticizing Merck's new potential COVID-19 treatment. Ivermectin proponents claim that Big Pharma is attempting to discredit the drug because it’s affordable and widely available. One article cited the debunked claim that India's use of ivermectin reduced COVID-19 infections and deaths. Ivermectin has not been found to be effective at preventing or treating COVID-19, and when taken in the veterinary form, can be harmful to humans.

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A preprint of a non-peer-reviewed study about vaccine myocarditis risk has been withdrawn due to a miscalculation. The study claimed that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines cause a 1 in 1,000 risk of myocarditis. The authors later acknowledged that they under-calculated the number of vaccines that were administered during the study period. The miscalculation resulted in a “vastly” inflated myocarditis risk, according to a statement from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, where the study was conducted. Prior to its withdrawal, the study was widely circulated on social media and websites known to publish vaccine misinformation.

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A video that claims to show a man cutting his skin and removing the COVID-19 vaccine from his body in blood clots has been shared in multiple social media posts. The video suggests that within 30 minutes of being vaccinated, an alternative medicine technique called cupping can be used to suction coagulated blood, and presumably the vaccine, from the body. This claim is false. The vaccines are injected into the arm muscles and travel throughout the body, making removal of the vaccine by cupping or any other means impossible.

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A former U.S. National Security Adviser who in the past has promoted QAnon conspiracy theories claimed that government entities who are part of the “Deep State” are slipping vaccines into salad dressing. The perplexing claim seems to originate from ongoing research at the University of California, Riverside, exploring the production of mRNA vaccines in edible plants like lettuce.

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Viral videos from an activist group known for producing deceptively edited video clips show a purported Department of Health and Human Services whistleblower saying that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe and the government is covering up damage from the vaccines. The video has racked up more than 4.4 million views and has yet to be removed from several video hosting sites.

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An article published in “Toxicology Reports" asserts that there is insufficient evidence to continue vaccinating children against COVID-19 because they are at low risk of dying from the disease. The article focuses primarily on the cost-benefit analysis of COVID-19 vaccine safety versus potential risk from COVID-19 in children, relying entirely on VAERS-reported adverse events. The study concludes that COVID-19 deaths in children are “negligible” compared to VAERS-reported deaths. In fact, no confirmed pediatric deaths caused by COVID-19 vaccines have been reported in the more than 13 million children who have received at least one vaccine dose. While children are at low risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, more than 22,000 children have been hospitalized with the disease in the U.S. to date, and children can spread the virus to caregivers and other adults. The article also concludes that most people who died from COVID-19 “probably would have died from the flu or many of the other comorbidities they had.” Contrary to the article’s argument that COVID-19 deaths had no impact on mortality rates, COVID-19 resulted in nearly half a million excess deaths in 2020 and remains the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

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The founder of a group of doctors known to spread misinformation about COVID-19 is using a minor correction to a June New England Journal of Medicine article to spread misinformation about vaccine safety during pregnancy. The corrections amounted to clarifying language and updating the risk of miscarriage to include people who were vaccinated during their first trimester, most of whom had not yet completed their pregnancies at the time of the article’s publishing. The corrections do not change the overall results or conclusion of the study, which found no safety concerns related to vaccination during pregnancy. Several more recent studies have confirmed that vaccination during pregnancy is safe, including a study of more than 17,000 people who were pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or nursing.

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A social media post claims that a potential new COVID-19 treatment from Pfizer is just rebranded ivermectin, based on the fact that both drugs are protease inhibitors, a class of drugs that are primarily used to treat HIV and hepatitis C. Many protease inhibitor treatments exist and they are not interchangeable. Ivermectin and the new Pfizer treatment are structurally quite different and would not have the same effect in COVID-19 patients.

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An editorial published in the BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) encourages researchers to investigate a potential link between COVID-19 vaccination and changes in menstruation. The editorial relies heavily on the U.K’s Yellow Card vaccine safety reporting system and clearly states that “Most people who report a change to their period after vaccination find that it returns to normal the following cycle and, importantly, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination adversely affects fertility.” But that has not prevented bad actors from circulating the piece, which they incorrectly call a study, to resurface the myth that the vaccines affect fertility. 

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During the public comment portion of a recent FDA’s advisory committee meeting, a man who has previously published anti-vaccine content presented what he claimed to be evidence that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has killed more people than it has saved. The presentation included screenshots of social media posts, news article headlines, an anti-vaccine advocacy website, and a misinterpreted passage from a study which concluded that the Pfizer vaccine “had a favorable safety profile and was highly efficacious in preventing COVID-19.” Other people online have circulated images from the presentation, calling the man an “FDA expert” and claiming that the FDA decided against recommending boosters for people under 65 based on the “data” he presented. During the FDA meeting, committee members agreed that younger people are still well protected by the vaccines, which are safe and effective. But both the FDA and CDC have authorized booster shots for Pfizer recipients under 65 with underlying medical conditions and those who work puts them at increased risk.

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Alerts are categorized as high, medium, and low risk.
  • High risk alerts: Narratives with widespread circulation across communities, high engagement, exponential velocity, and a high potential to impact health decisions. Are often more memorable than accurate information.
  • Medium risk alerts: Narratives that are circulating in priority populations and pose some threat to health. Potential for further spread due to the tactics used or because of predicted velocity. Often highlights the questions and concerns of people.
  • Low risk alerts: Narratives that are limited in reach, don’t impact your community, or lack the qualities necessary for future spread. May indicate information gaps, confusion, or concerns.
Monthly Misinformation Report

Explore Public Good Project’s report highlighting high-level health trends. This report captures information from April 6th – May 5th, 2024.

Vaccine Misinformation Guide

Get practical tips for addressing misinformation in this new guide. Click image to download, or see highlights