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Fact Check-Footage doesn’t show protest against COVID-19 vaccines in Romania

Update Oct. 6, 2021: Including response from Romania’s National Committee for the Coordination of Activities on Vaccination against COVID-19 as paragraphs 15 and 16.

A video and a photograph of a massive 2017 protest in Bucharest against government corruption have been miscaptioned online, with users claiming they show a recent demonstration against COVID-19 vaccination.

“Coercion didn’t work in Romania. Their Gov closed all Syringe centers because 70% of their citizens refused to get it. Incredible!”, reads a tweet with the miscaptioned image ( here ).

A TikTok clip featuring miscaptioned video and sharing a similar claim has gained over 215,000 views ( here ).

Other iterations are viewable here, here , here , here .

THE FOOTAGE

Reuters addressed the recirculating image in February ( here ).

While the source of the image in question is unclear, it was circulating on social media ( here, here) nearly three years before the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in January 2020 ( here ).

The miscaptioned video, which carries the watermark of Romanian news outlet Ştirile ProTv, can be seen here .

Reuters pictures of the massive demonstration in Victorei Square in Bucharest on Feb. 5, 2017 can be found here here.

On Jan. 31, 2017, the one-month-old cabinet of Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu enraged voters when it approved an emergency decree that would have decriminalized several graft offenses ( here ).

The decree, which was widely criticized in Romania and by its Western allies, prompted the largest display of popular anger since the fall of communism in 1989, with at least half a million people taking to the streets on Feb. 5, 2017.

VACCINATION CENTERS

Alongside the miscaptioned footage, social media users make the claim that the country has “shut down or “closed all” its COVID-19 vaccination centers due to a lack of demand. This is misleading – the country has temporarily halted or slowed down efforts, but not stopped them entirely.

It is true that Romania has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the European Union. As of Sept. 23, the country had only managed to fully vaccinate about 34% of its adult population, amid entrenched distrust in state institutions, misinformation campaigns, poor rural infrastructure and weak vaccine education ( here ).

The AP reported on July 7 that 117 centers in the country would be closed and that 371 others would reduce working hours, but that authorities had said that the centers would resume their activities if demand increased ( here ).

Romania’s National Committee for the Coordination of Activities on Vaccination against COVID-19 (CNCAV) told AFP on Sept. 3, that the activity in those centers “was temporarily stopped” and would resume “with the increase of Romanians’ adherence to vaccination against COVID-19” ( here )

The CNCAV told Reuters via email that “Once the 4th pandemic wave hit Romania, the request for anti COVID-19 shots started to increase daily, and, of course, the procedures to reestablish the whole capacity of vaccinations were activated.”

According to data by the CNCAV shared with Reuters: as of Sept. 28, 20.7% of the centers that had been temporarily suspended were “reactivated” and 46.86% of the centers with reduced schedule returned to normal working hours.

A map with the locations that are currently operating across the country can be seen here .

According to CNCAV data, the country administered more than 61,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on Sept. 29 ( here ). These were primarily third doses, which the country started offering on Sept. 28 to medical staff and at-risk people amid a rise in new daily cases ( here ).

The number of new coronavirus infections reported in the past 24 hours in Romania hit a record high of 11,049 on Sept. 28 ( here ).

VERDICT

Miscaptioned. This footage is not related to COVID-19, it shows a massive anti-corruption protest in Bucharest in 2017.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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