Recently, a viral WhatsApp message made several claims around vaccines, vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
According to this message, fully vaccinated people pose a threat in winter and must be quarantined while others claim that vaccines do not work.
The message also claims the booster shots make COVID-19 cases worse and that unvaccinated persons are not dangerous.
Seeing that this message contains several claims, Dubawa identified the different claims and verified them individually.
Claim 1: Vaccinated people must be quarantined in winter because they pose a danger.
This WhatsApp message claims that vaccinated persons must be quarantined over the winter months or else risk serious illnesses.
This claim was allegedly made by Christian Perronne, a former vice president of the World Health Organisation’s European Advisory Group of Experts in Immunisation.
“The World Health Organisation European Advisory Group of Experts in Immunisation, former vice president, professor Christain Perronne, yesterday said that all vaccinated people must be quarantined over the winter months or risk serious illnesses.”
Excerpt of the claim.
A keyword search led to a Twitter post by Dr. Jesse Livermore LL.M.,PH.D (@JessieLivermore) on September 20, 2021 with a similar claim. In this tweet the claim is that Pfizer said vaccinated people can harm unvaccinated people.
This tweet had the link to a website which carries a story from May 2021 where Pfizer allegedly confirmed that vaccinated people can shed spike protein and harm the unvaccinated.
The WHO has approved 8 vaccines for COVID-19 after having vetted their efficiency, effectiveness and safety. According to Bloomberg, more than 8.23 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across 184 countries.
Fully vaccinated persons according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are less likely to develop serious illness and vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus which is not so in the case of the COVID-19 vaccines.
The spike proteins (which is also found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19) in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which use mRNA technology, are produced after the vaccine sends instructions to the body’s cells.
The cells make the protein which our immune system recognizes as a foreign body and responds to by producing antibodies.
The spike proteins are harmless, do not cause illness and do not last long in the body. This makes the claim false.
Who is Christian Perronne?
Christian Perronne is a Professor of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the University of Versailles-St Quentin, Paris-Saclay, France. He has, however, been identified as a controversial doctor known in conspiracy theory circles for his criticism of health policy in the fight against COVID-19.
Our search on the said WHO advisory group led us to the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) which indicates that Christin Perronne is not on the list of current and former members. The current chair of SAGE is Dr. Alejandro Cravioto.
Claim 2: Unvaccinated people are not dangerous
Unvaccinated persons are still a risk to people around them, especially people with weak immune systems. Christopher Martin, a professor of public health at West Virginia University, was reported to have said that these unvaccinated groups create more opportunity for the virus to mutate.
“Large numbers of unvaccinated people do make variants more likely. If any one of these random errors confers an advantage to that virus, such as making it more contagious like delta, that variant can quickly become the dominant one circulating in the population,” he said.
Although there have been “breakthrough” COVID cases among vaccinated persons, the majority of hospitalizations and ICU cases are among unvaccinated people.
Ghazala Sharieff, chief medical officer for acute care and clinical excellence said “The bottom line is that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing both infections and deaths”.
Claim 3: 95% of seriously ill patients in Israel are vaccinated.
The message also claims an Isreali doctor, Kobi Havi, said 95% of seriously ill patients are vaccinated.
“95% of seriously ill patients are vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people account for 85-90% of hospitalisation,” a part of the claim reads.
Who is Hobi Haviv?
According to one of the LinkedIn profiles found, Hobi Haviv is a team leader at Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries in Israel. Another profile says he is operational excellence leader, Elbit Land Systems at Elbit Systems Ltd.
According to this report by haaretz.com, Dr. Kobi Haviv, is the head of the Herzog rehabilitation hospital in Jerusalem.
We also found an interview video of Dr Haviv on UGETube with this claim in the caption.
“Dr. Kobi Haviv, earlier today on Chanel 13 news Israel 13,”95 percent of the severe patients are vaccinated,” the caption reads.
Although the interview was not in English, it had English subtitles.
Dr. Haviv said “most of the population is vaccinated, and 90%…85-90% of the hospitalisation here are fully vaccinated people. Yes unfortunately the vaccine, as they say, its effectiveness is waning. Outbreaks in hospitals one patient infects a large number of people, it is not just here and there…” parts of the interview subtitle read.
According to Reuters, around half of Israel’s 600 patients presently hospitalised with severe illness have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. However, it notes that this is a rare occurrence out of 5.4 million fully vaccinated people.
The majority of these patients who received two vaccine doses at least five months ago, are over the age of 60 and have chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, lung ailments etc known to exacerbate a coronavirus infection.
Also, according to a study published in October in the New England Journal of Medicine, COVID-19 breakthrough cases were found in health care workers.
“Among 11,453 fully vaccinated health care workers, 1497 (13.1%) underwent RT-PCR testing during the study period. Of the tested workers, 39 breakthrough cases were detected,” part of the study’s result reads.
While it is true that breakthrough cases have been found, the alleged percentage is misleading.
Claim 4: The effectiveness of vaccines is declining or disappearing
It is true that immunity from the initial vaccine dose(s) naturally starts to wane over time which is the reason for booster shots, but this does not translate to vaccine effectiveness declining or disappearing.
Effectiveness of vaccines varies from one vaccine to another, but all approved vaccines are still effective against infection and severe illnesses.
Real-world effectiveness data by CDC shows Johnson and Johnson is 71% effective at preventing hospitalisation from COVID-19 in adults who do not have compromised immune systems, whileModerna is 93% and Pfizer is 88% effective.
Claim 5: Booster jabs will make cases worse
COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are now authorised for all adults in the U.S., and anyone 18 years and older who has completed the Pfizer or Moderna primary vaccine series at least six months ago or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago is eligible for a booster shot.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends boosters six months after the second dose of one of the mRNA COVID vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) because data on the vaccines’ efficacy suggests that after that amount of time has passed, the vaccines start to offer less protection.
For Johnson and Johnson on the other hand, boosters are recommended two months after the first shot because the CDC data on the vaccine’s performance in real-world conditions showed that it is only 71% effective at preventing hospitalisation from COVID-19 in adults who did not have compromised immune systems. This is less, compared to Moderna’s 93% and Pfizer’s 88% effectiveness rate.
Claim 6: Vaccines don’t work
Vaccines work, which is why they were given approval by the FDA.
Although a study published in the Lancet shows that there is increasing evidence that vaccinated individuals continue to have a relevant role in transmission and that people with weak immune systems build lower levels of antibodies, there is still some protection from vaccination.
This viral WhatsApp message with several claims on COVID-19 is replete with falsehood.