Claim: Social media messages suggest the AstraZeneca vaccine can transmit COVID-19 and may be responsible for hike in COVID-19 Cases in Liberia
Although there has been a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Liberia, there is no evidence that the administration of the AstraZeneca Vaccine is responsible for this. The suggestion that the vaccine can cause COVID-19 is FALSE.
A new COVID-19 variant has emerged in Liberia as the country records a new peak in infections. While virus mutations are not unusual, those that are more infectious are worrisome, making people respond in different ways across various social media platforms. Speculations have emerged in street corners that the wave of increase in COVID-19 cases in Liberia can be attributed to the Astrazeneca vaccine being administered across the country.
On Saturday June 19, 2021, a Facebook user shared a post questioning whether or not it was the vaccine causing an increase in infection.
In the post which has since been deleted, the user asked his Facebook following: “have we noticed since the introduction of the vaccines, the cases have hiked?”
Roll-out of the AstraZeneca Vaccine
The World Health Organization (WHO) early this year listed AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, widening access to the relatively inexpensive shot in the developing world.
A WHO statement said it had approved the vaccine as produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India.
According to a study by the US Center for Disease Control, AstraZeneca committed to a partnership with Oxford University to ensure broad and equitable vaccine access globally during the pandemic.
Liberia received 96,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, through the COVAX facility on April 1, 2021, joining many countries to officially launch the vaccination campaign against COVID-19.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, launched the vaccine at the Ministerial Complex in the presence of the UN Head of Agencies, the United Kingdom and European Union Ambassadors, representatives of other development partners, Cabinet Ministers, chairs of the health committees at the legislature, senior government officials and the media.
The vaccines were later deployed to eight sites in Montserrado and Margibi counties including; the Number 14 Military hospital, JFK memorial hospital, Catholic hospital, Redemption and SOS Hospitals.
Can AstraZeneca Vaccines transmit Covid-19?
Dr Wilhemina Jallah, Liberia’s Minister of Health in a phone call with his reporter on Wednesday June 23, 2021 dismissed this claim. Dr Jallah said the Ministry of Health was in possession of “no reports or evidence” that suggest that the vaccine is capable of infecting people with COVID-19.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the AstraZeneca vaccines were tested in state-of-the-art laboratories, tried in thousands of renowned clinics and approved by WHO.
The same vaccines are being administered all over the world, including countries in Africa, like Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mali and Morocco.
Dubawa found no evidence that the AstraZeneca vaccine can get people infected with COVID-19 in any of these countries.
According to a recent study by the UK based Public Health England, a single dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccine reduced household transmission by up to half. It finds no evidence that AstraZeneca vaccine, which is also administered in Liberia, can also cause COVID infection.
The Australian Government’s Department of Health’s patient information fact-sheet on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) also finds no evidence that the vaccine can infect people with COVID-19 once taken.
Can one get COVID-19 even after receiving the AstraZeneca Vaccine?
The US Center for Disease Control says after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccinated person cannot test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test – a test which is used to determine if an individual has a current infection. The CDC further states that none of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines cause a person to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if one has a current infection. Neither can any of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States.
Cases of fully vaccinated individuals contracting coronavirus are rare, but not impossible. The CDC says a small percentage of fully vaccinated individuals will still get the infection but may make sickness less severe in such people.
Given the scientific evidence available, the suggestion that AstraZeneca could be responsible for hundreds of new COVID-19 cases in Liberia is FALSE and Misleading.
Note: The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa’s 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with The Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.