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Fact Check-Fake headline from The Conversation asks why the unvaccinated didn’t ‘warn’ the vaccinated

A screenshot purporting to show a future headline for an article published by The Conversation asks why the “unvaccinated did not do more to warn” people who were inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine, but it is fabricated.

The Conversation is a website that publishes articles written by academics and edited by journalists. The publication’s logo is visible at the top left corner of the fake screenshot, with a headline that reads: “THEY KNEW: Why didn’t the unvaccinated do more to warn us?”

The circulated screenshot is dated June 6, 2023, five months in the future at the time of this writing.

In the image, a cover graphic features cartoon figures, with two in medical attire holding vaccines while the other two figures can be seen holding hands toward the medical personnel in a gesture of rejection.

The opening paragraph visible across the lower third of the screenshot reads: “While well intending citizens lined up, did the right thing, and received their COVID19 vaccinations, now known to do more harm than good, their unvaccinated friends and family stood by and let them do it. Even though they knew what we didn’t. Some of them said too little. Some said nothing at all. Our blood is now on their hands.”

Examples of the screenshot can be viewed (here), (here).

No such headline is viewable, however, when searching through the website’s content (archive.is/wip/78kDA).

No such article has been produced for later publication either, according to the author named in the fake screenshot. Alessandro Siani, associate head of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Portsmouth in Britain, told Reuters that he has not penned any such headline or article, and the screenshot circulating online is fabricated.

Siani did author an article published by The Conversation on Jan. 6, 2023, which features identical illustration, but whose real headline reads: “COVID: unvaccinated people may be seen as ‘free riders’ and face discrimination” (here).

“As a scientist, I firmly believe that vaccinations (including those against COVID-19) are an essential preventive measure, and that their effectiveness in preventing transmissible diseases largely outweighs any rare unwanted effects associated with their use,” Siani told Reuters.

Siani has also flagged the fake headline via his LinkedIn feed (bit.ly/3R5bYr6).

The authentic article published in The Conversation discussed discrimination and attitudes toward unvaccinated people in various countries, based on a study published in the journal Nature in early December (here).

Siani’s own research publications can be viewed (here), (here).

The Conversation also tweeted to confirm that the circulating screenshot is fabricated, and provided a link to the authentic January article by Siani (here), archived (archive.is/wip/pU6Lz).

VERDICT

Altered. An article penned by an academic at the University of Portsmouth on potential discrimination faced by unvaccinated people was altered to include a fake headline, text and date.

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

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