Conspiracy Theory Sifting fact from fake news on COVID-19 vaccine

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Windhoek – Bill Gates is trying to control the world. The vaccine will be used to cull Africa as part of an age-old population control plan. Big Pharma created the virus and now stands to make billions from supplying the vaccine. The vaccine has not been properly tested and has been rushed to the market.

These, and other, fears have dominated social dialogue in Africa and indeed across the world for the past month as COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out.

In Asia, America, Australia and Europe, the rollout has begun, and not without controversy.

Around 30 Norwegians have died after taking the Pfizer-BioNT vaccine, and several countries have demanded the pharmaceutical companies explain what is going on, even though Norwegian authorities themselves have said they are not too worried and stand by the vaccine’s efficacy.

But the situation is not helped by the fact that drug manufacturers are demanding indemnity in all countries that use their vaccines. On the flip said, proponents say such a demand is understandable considering that companies did not have the four to five years usually required to develop a vaccine because of the current emergency.

 

Explaining the Deaths

Experts say any mass vaccination campaign will result in extreme side effects, including death.

This is as true of the COVID-19 vaccines as it has been of child immunisation programmes that have been conducted across Africa for decades now.

Bloomberg quoted the Norwegian Medicines Agency saying: “The Norwegian Medicines Agency has communicated, prior to the vaccination, that when vaccinating the oldest and sickest, it is expected that deaths will occur in a time-related context with vaccination. This does not mean that there is a causal link between vaccination and death.

“We have also, in connection with the reported deaths, conveyed that it is possible that common and known side effects of the vaccines may have been a contributing factor to a serious course or fatal outcome.”

Side effects and fatalities have also been reported in the United Kingdom and the United States. In India, after two days of vaccinations the Union Health Ministry said there had been adverse side effects in 0,2 percent of the 2,24,301 beneficiaries (447 people).



Big Money Scheme?

Another claim making the rounds is that the vaccine is a big money scheme by Western governments and corporations, premised on people’s fear.

Yes, the vaccines are expensive. But in Africa they are highly subsidised through schemes such as the COVAX facility and another one jointly run by the African Union and the World Health Organisation.

African countries will pain between US$3 and US$10 per dose for the 270 million shots secured by the AU.

According to Reuters, the prices are heavily discounted compared to what developed countries are paying.

However, US$10 per dose is still steep for most of the continent, and the head of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, Mr Tim Jones, warns that “No country should have to take on debt to pay for the vaccine”. 

Head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Dr John Nkengasong, says: “My thinking is that the vaccines market will open up in the coming months, when for example Johnson & Johnson and others land on the market. For now, what is critical is access to the market, secure quantities and start vaccinating.”

 

Population Control

A popular claim is that COVID-19 and the vaccine are part of a nefarious attempt to reduce Africa’s population so that Western countries can more fully control the continent’s natural resources.

Observers point out that this is extremely unlikely for the simple reason that there have been far more COVID-19 infections and deaths in the West than in Africa. How exactly, the observers ask, would the West seek to control Africa’s population and resources by creating a virus and vaccine that decimates its own people?

At a recent webinar on debunking myths around the vaccine, University of KwaZulu-Natal Head of Virology Dr Nokukhanya Msomi also noted how these control theories been linked to microchip tracking and DNA altering.

The claim is that 5G mobile telecommunications masts are linked to the spread of the new coronavirus, and about four towers in KwaZulu-Natal Province were torched last week by people who believe the conspiracy theory.

The chair of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Keabetswe Modimoeng, urged people “not to be swayed by these conspiracy theories that are hell-bent on bringing instability and fear within the nation”.

Modimoeng added: “We all need to rely on scientifically-based evidence and refrain from these baseless theories. Such fake theories can only cause despair and unnecessary technophobia among South Africans and must be strongly condemned.”

On the issue of DNA altering, which some people claim will result in African women becoming infertile, scientists explain that the vaccine does not even enter the recipient’s DNA.

 

Mark of the Beast

Yet another theory doing the rounds is that the vaccine and the virus are somehow linked to the 666 mark of the beast as told in the Biblical book of Revelation.

In South Africa, this has even led to an official complaint being filed against the country’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, a prominent proponent of that conspiracy theory.

The African Alliance filed a complaint with the Judicial Service Commission after Justice Mogoeng on December 10, 2020 reportedly said: “If there be any vaccine that is the work of the devil, meant to infuse 666 in the lives of the people, meant to corrupt their DNA, may it be destroyed by fire…”

The following day, the chief justice insisted: “If there is a vaccine with 666, I want God to destroy it. If there is any vaccine meant to corrupt the DNA of people, I’m asking God to interrupt it. Any clean vaccine, they must produce it quickly… I don’t care about the consequences, we have been quiet for far too long, toeing the line. I’m not going to toe the line, and it doesn’t matter how many people criticise me… I don’t know anything about vaccines. What I can say now is that I don’t think the vaccine must ever be compulsory… You can’t impose a vaccine on people.”

The African Alliance says the remarks can cause “widespread confusion, and fear about the safety of vaccines generally and the COVID-19 vaccine, in particular”, more so at a time the government is planning its immunisation rollout.

“In turn, this may make it easier for people to deceive and/or spread false information about the Covid-19 vaccine,” the organisation added.

 

Widespread Distrust

It is not just in Africa where people are skeptical about the vaccine. A recent survey says about 72 percent of blacks in the UK have their suspicions. Figures are equally high in the US.

Researchers at CompariSure say 52 percent of surveyed South Africans say they do will not take the vaccine. The main fears are side effects, religious considerations, the cost, and other factors as varied as a fear of needles and a fear of “government tracking”.

Another survey by M4Jam says 84 percent of respondents do not want to be vaccinated, even as they see infections and deaths all around them.

M4Jam CEO Mr Georgie Midgley attributes the high resistance to widespread misinformation.

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