ITALY became the first team to reach the knockout stage of Euro 2020 as midfielder Manuel Locatelli scored twice in a 3-0 win over Switzerland in Rome on Wednesday, while Wales moved to the brink of joining them by beating Turkey.
VIRAL social media posts over recent weeks have falsely claimed that people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection afterwards.
One viral post – that has been circulating globally in social media and WhatsApp groups – even falsely claimed that a French Nobel prize winner, Luc Montagnier, said the Covid-19 vaccines and their wide use were causing the emergence of coronavirus variants.
The viral post states: “All vaccinated people will die within two years – Nobel prize winner Luc Montagnier has confirmed that there is no chance of survival for people who have received any form of the vaccine. In the shocking interview, the world's top virologist stated blankly: “there is no hope, and no possible treatment for those who have been vaccinated already. We must be prepared to incinerate the bodies.”
However, it has been established that Luc Montagnier never made these statements.
To be clear, this post and others making similar claims spread the lie that people who get a Covid-19 vaccine are actually being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and, depending on which falsehood you hear, it's part of some big population control conspiracy.
These posts appear to be aimed at deepening vaccine hesitancy and scepticism, especially among already fearful and disinformation-confused people and groups, including many in Namibian social media and WhatsApp groups.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
In an updated 3 June 2021 post on its web page, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states: “None of the authorised and recommended Covid-19 vaccines cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.”
CDC further states: “None of the authorised and recommended Covid-19 vaccines or Covid-19 vaccines currently in development ... contain the live virus that causes Covid-19. This means that a Covid-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with Covid-19.”
For its part, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is behind the Covax Facility that has brought some vaccines to Namibia, states in a web post on 2 June 2021: “The only way you could test positive on a PCR test after being vaccinated would be if you were one of the rare cases where the vaccine didn't protect you from infection, or if you got a false positive test result. The Covid-19 vaccines currently being rolled out are extremely effective, with most able to prevent at least 95% of infections, with only a small percentage of 'breakthrough' infections occurring. These are typical with other vaccines too.”
Regarding 'breakthrough' infections – when someone tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection despite having been vaccinated – Gavi states: “For Covid-19, so far these kinds of infection seem to be extremely rare, with one US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report showing that breakthrough infections happened in only 0,1% of fully vaccinated people, and only 2% of those died.”
In other words, no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing infection, so 'breakthrough' infections do occur and it's not out of the ordinary.”
A Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services circular of 3 May 2021 also addressed the issue, stating: “Misconception of testing positive for Covid-19 post-vaccination: Concerns were raised by travellers who tested positive for Covid-19 after being vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine. Neither PCR nor antigen diagnostic tests can produce a positive result due to vaccination.”
The ministry's circular to health officials across the country states that if someone tests positive for Covid-19 after having been fully vaccinated, then it is not due to the vaccine, but rather that the person was infected with Covid-19, which would mean a 'breakthrough' infection.
* Frederico Links is the editor of Namibia Fact Check, which is a project of the Institute for Public Policy Research. Namibia Fact Check can be viewed at www.namibiafactcheck.org.na
Frederico Links is a part-time sub-editor at The Namibian.