Social media posts circulating in multiple languages claim World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned some countries were administering vaccine booster shots in order to “kill children”. The posts spread online in December as countries around the world saw record surges of Covid-19 cases, likely driven by the Omicron coronavirus variant. But a review of Tedros’ actual remarks found he was in fact discussing global vaccine inequity — not commenting on the safety of Covid-19 vaccine boosters. A representative for the WHO told AFP that Tedros stuttered when delivering his remarks.
Global news agency Reuters published an article that said a Japanese company found ivermectin to be effective against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in human trials. The article was corrected to say that trials were non-clinical, meaning they did not test on people, but social media posts are still spreading the article’s original incorrect assertion that the drug was proven effective against Covid-19 in human test subjects.
A video viewed tens of thousands of times on social media claims that satellite data showed no net global warming for the past seven years and suggests that this means carbon dioxide emissions are not driving climate change. The claim is misleading; longer-term datasets from six world climate monitors show average temperatures have been rising for decades, and EU data showed the past seven years were the hottest ever recorded.
As the highly contagious Omicron Covid-19 variant pushed governments to speed up rollouts of booster jabs, social media posts purported to share a poster issued by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) warning that the vaccines “cause Bell’s palsy”. The claim is false; Britain’s health department and local authorities in the town where the poster was displayed said it was not made by the NHS. Bell’s palsy, a condition that causes temporary facial drooping, is a rare side effect of Covid-19 vaccines.
A segment of the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony has been misrepresented in social media posts that claim it shows a “giant figure of death holding a needle” foreshadowing the Covid-19 pandemic. The claim is misleading; the cloaked figure in the ceremony was a puppet holding a wand, representing Harry Potter’s antagonist Voldemort, who appeared alongside various villains from children’s literature.
Social media posts feature a photo of tractors blocking a highway and claim that it shows a convoy in the Netherlands inspired by truckers protesting Covid-19 vaccine mandates in Canada. This is false; the photo appeared online in a 2019 article about farmers protesting enviromental regulations before the pandemic started.
Social media posts and online articles claim polar bears are growing in number, citing it as evidence that the threat of climate change is exaggerated. This is misleading; scientists say there is not enough data to show a rising trend in polar bear numbers, and the impact of climate change on their habitat is widely documented.