Knowing what misinformation is being shared can help you generate effective messaging.

These insights are based on a combination of automated media monitoring and manual review by public health data analysts. Media data are publicly available data from many sources, such as social media, broadcast television, newspapers and magazines, news websites, online video, blogs, and more. Public health data analysts from the PGP (The Public Good Projects) triangulate this data along with other data from fact checking organizations and investigative sources to provide an accurate, but not exhaustive, list of currently circulating misinformation.

This week in misinformation

Trending Misinformation about Vaccines & COVID-19

  • A video claiming that AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine uses lung tissue from an aborted fetus using MRC-5 cell lines continued to be shared this week. A spokesperson from AstraZeneca confirmed they do not use MRC-5 cell lines. There are many vaccines and medicines that depend on human cell lines for production, but these vaccines do not. 
  • Posts on Facebook falsely claim that mask mandates are contributing to the spread of COVID-19. The claim is false; multiple studies have demonstrated that masks reduce the spread of the virus. 
  • On Twitter and Facebook, claims that food stamps (WIC and SNAP) and rent assistance will be withheld from people who do not get vaccinated against COVID-19 are spreading on social media. The claims are a misrepresentation of a report from a working group at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health and Security which states that COVID-19 vaccines could be given out at the same time as food and rent assistance. The authors of the report confirmed they are not advocating for such services to be contingent upon vaccination. 
  • A misleading comparison between COVID-19 mortality and vaccine efficacy is being made on social media after AstraZeneca and Pfizer announced their vaccines were more than 90% effective. Vaccine efficacy and disease survival rates are separate measures that cannot be directly compared. It is important to consider that while the exact mortality rate of COVID-19 is unknown, a hypothetical 1% death rate, often stated in misleading posts, is still a very large number of deaths. A 90% efficiency rate for a vaccine would reduce the spread and death toll from the virus.  
  • A post circulating on Facebook states that a COVID-19 vaccine will not be as effective as currently predicted, because there are no effective vaccines for the cold or flu. Fact-checking sites have highlighted that no vaccine exists for the common cold because it is caused by several families of viruses, and while a vaccine does exist for the flu, its effectiveness varies. However, this does not have bearing on a COVID-19 vaccine, given that COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus, and there has been a huge global effort to accelerate clinical trials for vaccines to ensure they are developed safely and efficiently.

This week in misinformation

Trending Misinformation about Vaccines & COVID-19

  • A text message has been circulating claiming that Dr. Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, George Soros, and Jeffrey Epstein are all connected to Moderna, and implies that there is some nefarious play happening around the developing COVID-19 vaccination. The alleged connections are completely false. 
  • As many people are lamenting not being able to attend concerts, a false claim appeared on Instagram saying that Ticketmaster will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for concert attendance. Ticketmaster has responded and said the claims are not true. 
  • A video spreading on Facebook is falsely claiming that the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine contains lung tissue from an aborted human fetus. AstraZeneca confirmed with Reuters that their vaccine was not developed using the alleged cell lines claimed in the video.

This week in misinformation

Trending Misinformation about Vaccines & COVID-19

  • A post on Facebook claims that a COVID-19 vaccine is being secretly administered through COVID-19 nasal swab tests. 
  • A claim is being spread on Facebook that a 2008 study authored by Dr. Fauci shows that most of the victims of the Spanish flu died from bacterial pneumonia caused by wearing masks. These claims have been debunked, given that the study did not mention masks nor did it draw any conclusions between bacterial pneumonia and mask use. There is no evidence to support the claim that mask use leads to a higher risk of bacterial pneumonia. 
  • Claims have been circulating on social media that hospitals have inflated COVID-19 death counts in order to make a profit. Various national medical associations have rejected the implications that hospital deaths have been improperly attributed to COVID-19 for financial gain.
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