FALSE: This appeal asking Africans to reject COVID-19 vaccines is fake
Jun 08
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PesaCheck is a pioneering verification initiative that is helping kickstart fact-checking across East Africa. PesaCheck is an innovateAFRICA.fund grantee, and receives additional support from the International Budget Partnership, Code for Africa and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).
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The post is attributed to Barack Obama, but appears to be completely fabricated.

A Facebook post with a screenshot claiming that former US President Barack Obama has appealed to Africans to reject COVID-19 vaccines from the United States and Europe is FALSE.

The screenshot, which has also circulated on WhatsApp, contains a quote attributed to Obama stating that the COVID-19 vaccine is toxic, and that it will be introduced to the continent is a ‘Machiavellian’ plan that seeks to harm rather than help the continent.

The post accompanying the screenshot accuses Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates of being the mastermind behind the said vaccine.

However, the quote appears to be completely fabricated, and does not indicate when or where it was made. The screenshot itself contains a link to an Instagram post which contains an image of Obama shedding a tear.

Instagram post linked on the WhatsApp message

reverse image search shows that the image was taken in January 2016 while he was delivering a statement on the steps his government was taking to reduce gun violence in the US. The photo is credited to Reuters photographer Carlos Barria.

While Obama has routinely posted messages on his Twitter as well as Facebook accounts about COVID-19, none of them makes the claims or contains the statement attributed to him on the issue of a vaccine.

In one of the posts, he shared an article in The New York Times that describes the steps that need to be taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the US. In another post, he shared an article by VOX which emphasised on the importance of social distancing in the efforts to flatten the curve of infections.

Further, given Obama’s profile as a public figure, any pronouncement of this nature would have been covered by mainstream media outlets, but no such story has been published on any such outlets.

Vaccine development for COVID-19 is still in the early stages, with the World Health Organization announcing in late March that two candidates were in the first phase of clinical evaluation, which involves trials on a small number of people, followed by months of evaluation to monitor for any potential side effects. 42 other vaccine candidates were in preclinical trials.

Clinical trials are also underway to test the efficacy of already existing therapies such as remdesivir, originally used against Ebola, and BCG, a vaccine against tuberculosis.

PesaCheck has looked into a claim that former President Barack Obama appealed to Africans to reject COVID -19 and finds it to be FALSE.


This post is part of an ongoing series of PesaCheck fact-checks examining content marked as potential misinformation on Facebook and other social media platforms.

By partnering with Facebook and similar social media platforms, third-party fact-checking organisations like PesaCheck are helping to sort fact from fiction. We do this by giving the public deeper insight and context to posts they see in their social media feeds.

Have you spotted what you think is fake news or false information on Facebook? Here’s how you can report. And, here’s more information on PesaCheck’s methodology for fact-checking questionable content.

This fact-check was written by Fact-Checker Simon Muli and edited by Enock Nyariki.

The article was approved for publication by PesaCheck Managing Editor Eric Mugendi.

PesaCheck is East Africa’s first public finance fact-checking initiative. It was co-founded by Catherine Gicheru and Justin Arenstein, and is being incubated by the continent’s largest civic technology and data journalism accelerator: Code for Africa. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) public services, such as healthcare, rural development and access to water / sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reportage. To find out more about the project, visit pesacheck.org.

PesaCheck is an initiative of Code for Africa, through its innovateAFRICA fund, with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie, in partnership with a coalition of local media and other civic watchdog organisations in 14 African countries.

PesaCheck
Partner
PesaCheck is a pioneering verification initiative that is helping kickstart fact-checking across East Africa. PesaCheck is an innovateAFRICA.fund grantee, and receives additional support from the International Budget Partnership, Code for Africa and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).
WebsiteTwitter
SubscribeSubscribe

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How should Africa, with its fragile healthcare systems and large informal economies tailor global strategies for fighting Covid-19 to ensure they are feasible and effective locally? African policymakers and health agencies need evidence-based insights with strong local context to make informed decisions. Outbreak.AFRICA seeks to help by giving actionable data and expert insights.

This Code for Africa initiative was made possible with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
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This Code for Africa initiative was made possible with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
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