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Social media is rife with fake news about the Covid-19 vaccine just days after several countries started their vaccination campaigns. Lots of people are worried about potential nasty side effects of the vaccine, while others accuse the media of lying about it. In this series, the FRANCE 24 Observers team is taking on four of the most widespread rumours. In this article, we look at the (false) rumour that a woman got a double dose of the vaccine by mistake.
On December 8, the United Kingdom rolled out the Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. It was shortly followed by the United States and Canada, who began distribution of the vaccine on December 14. Bahrain and Mexico have also authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The start of these vaccination campaigns have inflamed rumours that were already circulating on social media.
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2 – Did this woman get vaccinated twice by mistake? Nope.
Some of the false information circulating online is about Margaret Keenan, the first person to be administered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the United Kingdom. The photos and videos of Keenan getting her vaccination at a hospital in Coventry, United Kingdom were published around the globe. Rumours quickly began to spread amongst some circles online that Keenan had already been vaccinated in the United States back in October.
The proof given by these suspicious social media users was a screengrab of an article from CNN dated October 22 that features the video of Keenan at the hospital getting her vaccination. These social media users shared that screengrab alongside one from an article published in the French daily newspaper Libération on December 8 titled: “Margaret Keenan, age 90, the first person vaccinated during the British vaccination campaign.”
The two screengrabs are indeed authentic. As the journalists at 20 minutes demonstrated, the CNN article from October 22 is about how the Trump administration has been handling the Covid-19 crisis. If the video of Keenan pops up at the top of the page, it is because that spot includes a dynamic rotating carousel featuring the latest videos published by CNN. Thus, if someone looked at the article from October 22 today, a video from this week would appear in that spot – not the videos from back in October.
For example – we opened that same article from October 22 on December 14 and a video from December 13 was the first one that popped up.
The videos suggested by CNN don’t correspond with the date of the article. Margaret Keenan was indeed vaccinated on December 8 and she left the hospital the next day. Just to verify, we ran the images of her from that day through a reverse image search (click here to find out how) and didn’t find anything posted online before December 8.