Forget television, we’re in the golden age of disinformation.
And I’m not talking about the “fake news” Donald Trump denounces every five minutes.
Most of us have at least one contact – be it a friend or relative – who forwards sensationalist messages containing unsubstantiated claims every day.
These include bogus coronavirus cures, fabricated stories about other countries, and how drinking water at a certain time of the day can cure cancer (it can’t).
Now that we have several Covid-19 vaccines in use, it’s only natural that false claims about them have cropped up all over the internet.
Before you decide against immunisation, here are some myths about Covid-19 vaccines that you should probably be aware of.
Myth: Covid-19 Vaccines Are Unsafe Because They Were Developed Too Quickly
While it’s true that the Covid-19 vaccines were developed in record time, researchers maintain that no corners were cut in the vaccines’ clinical trials.
The vaccines were produced so quickly because countries and companies all over the world invested massive resources into its development, given the urgent nature of the situation.
Moreover, because we’re in a pandemic, more people were willing to participate in clinical trials to test the effectiveness and safety of these vaccines.
Myth: Covid-19 Vaccines Will Alter Your DNA
This myth likely stems from the fact that the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna utilise messenger RNA (or mRNA).
This mRNA “instructs” our cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response, and over time our body builds up an immunity against the coronavirus.
However, the mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell – where our DNA is kept – and thus cannot interact with or affect it in any way.
Your cells will break down the mRNA and clear it from your body as soon as it has created the protein.
Myth: Covid-19 Vaccines Will Cause Infertility in Women
This particularly worrying claim seems to have come from British YouTuber Zed Phoenix, who claimed that a source at pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline told him that 61 of the 63 women tested with a Covid-19 vaccine became infertile.
In reality, there’s been no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines can cause infertility in either men or women.
Dr Edward Morris, president at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women’s fertility.”
Myth: You Don’t Need a Vaccine If You’ve Already Tested Positive
If I contract Covid-19 once, I’ll have immunity for the rest of my life right?
Reader: Yup, that sound about right to m-
Reader: Okay, please stop shouting.
The problem is that we don’t know exactly how long natural immunity to Covid-19 lasts.
While getting infected with the coronavirus more than once is not common, there are still so many unanswered questions about the disease.
So, it’s safer to get the vaccine, even if you’ve already been infected once.
Moreover, there’s some evidence to suggest that vaccines could provide better protection against Covid-19 than natural immunity.
Myth: You Can Get Covid-19 From the Vaccines
This false belief probably stems from a misconception on how vaccines are formulated.
See, a traditional vaccine contains a weakened or killed form of the virus that causes a particular disease so that your immune system can easily fight it off and create antibodies.
But as you probably know, the Covid-19 uses a new technology (mRNA) so it’s a different thingy altogether.
Myth: Covid-19 Vaccines Contain a Microchip
Okay, this one is pretty weird.
Last year, rumours started spreading that the Covid-19 vaccine will use microchip surveillance technology created by Bill Gates-funded research.
While Gates did suggest that “digital certificates” could be used as part of a larger vaccination effort, there’s no evidence that he or his foundation has created such technology to track vaccine recipients.
So no, the man who created Microsoft does not want to track your movements.
He did, however, donate over $400 million to fund the development of vaccines last year.
Myth: The Vaccine Contains Fetal Tissue
While some existing vaccines, including five Covid-19 vaccines, use cell lines descended from fetuses aborted decades ago, they do not contain any fetal tissue, nor are they used for the production of any Covid-19 vaccines.
These cell lines are sometimes necessary for the development of vaccines, like to weaken the strength of a virus.
However, once these weakened viruses are extracted from these cell lines, they do not contain any remnants of the cell lines, which in this case, is fetal tissue.
Myth: Covid-19 Vaccines Are Not Safe For the Immunosuppressed
As you know, people with suppressed immune systems are more at risk of developing severe illness after contracting Covid-19, as their immune systems aren’t strong enough to fight it off.
However, as previously mentioned, none of the Covid-19 vaccines contains a live virus, meaning vaccines will not harm the immunosuppressed.
That being said, they may not get as much protection as those with healthy immune systems.
Myth: Some Covid-19 Vaccine Recipients Have Died
In December last year, a social media post claimed that six vaccine recipients died from the Pfizer-BioNTech trials.
However, this was later shown to be false.
Of the six who supposedly died from the vaccine, only two had actually received it.
Moreover, none of the deaths was assessed by the investigator to be related to the trial, according to Reuters.
Recently, it was reported that 33 elderly in Norway passed away after taking the vaccine, but it’s now been confirmed that their deaths have nothing to do with the vaccine.
Myth: You Can Stop Wearing Mask & Practising Safe Distancing After Getting Vaccinated
The thing about mass vaccination drives is that it takes time to immunise an entire country.
So you can’t go around bare-faced licking strangers’ faces and coughing to your heart’s content after getting vaccinated, because you could still pass the virus on to others.
Covid-19 is still a new disease and we don’t know how vaccination will affect transmission.
So, until herd immunity has been achieved and the coronavirus has been eradicated, you should get used to going out with half your face covered, avoid crowds, and practice safe distancing.
How to Spot Fake News
Fake news is as common as bubble tea stores these days, and given that we’re fighting a pandemic, it’s more important than ever to be wary of misinformation.
Here are a few tips to spot fake news:
- Consider the source – Is the publisher or author credible? Your uncle on WhatsApp, for instance, isn’t a credible source
- Read Beyond the Headline – Clickbait headlines are meant to draw you in, but what does the story actually say?
- Supporting Sources – Are there other, reputable sources which have reported the same story?
- Check Your Biases – Consider if your judgment concerning the veracity of the story is affected by your own biases
- Check With the Experts – Consult a fact-checking website, such as FactCheck.org, International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), PolitiFact.com, or Snopes.com if you’re suspicious of a story.
Or you can download the Goody Feed app. There are two things we’re most afraid of: our boss and POFMA.
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