May 1, 2020 / 7:46 PM / a month ago

False claim: video shows aftermath of fatal COVID-19 vaccination in Guinea

Various social media posts have incorrectly stated that a 2019 TV news report into a health programme in Guinea shows the aftermath of a deadly COVID-19 vaccination trial.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Numerous posts on Facebook link to a YouTube video, which when viewed in a Facebook feed carries the headline “Results of the Corona vaccine trials in Dubreka” (here here here). The accompanying text on these Facebook posts describes the linked video as being evidence of a COVID-19 vaccination trial.

One states: “Remember the French doctors who openly say to test Covid-19 vaccination in, specifically, in Africa, live on national tv? Guess what, they are doing it right now. They even tested on children (they died, of course). Disturbing video in Guinea. WARNING: DISTURBING SCENES”.

These posts are misleading. The video in question does not present evidence of COVID-19 trials having taken place in Guinea.

When users click through to YouTube (here), the video headline reads differently. It is entitled: “Results of vaccine trials in Dubreka - Guinea (MUST WATCH).”

The video, which is a compilation of clips, contains an introductory sequence followed by part of an April 1, 2020, TV exchange between French doctor Jean-Paul Mira and the research director of France’s national health institute, Inserm, Camille Locht, in which they discussed vaccine trials. Mira later apologised for the remarks he made during the exchange, in which he suggested that a possible treatment for COVID-19 should be tested in Africa (here).

The YouTube video then contains some commentary, before inserting a French-language news report that carries the logo of the Guinean TV station Gangan at 1:55 minutes (www.facebook.com/GanganRTV/).

The report matches that which was published by Gangan on its Facebook page on March 18, 2019 (here).

Gangan’s original caption reads: “We start with this health info which provoked a spontaneous street demonstration this Monday in Dubreka. There, a dozen children are feeling unwell and admitted to hospital after a vaccination campaign. Parents accuse the vaccine administered to their children. Patients also point to the same vaccine that is believed to cause their discomfort.” 

After being approached by Reuters, Gangan RTV’s Editor-in-Chief Sekou Jamal Pendessa confirmed that his organisation’s footage had been used out of context in recent weeks.

“The editorial staff of the Gangan RTV group notes with deep regret that some internet users have been allowing themselves, since Monday, April 6, 2020, to use one of our old reports to make people believe that there, in recent days, cases of discomfort due to a vaccination campaign in schools in  Dubreka. 

"We would like to point out here that the report was produced in March 18, 2019. We invite you to refrain from such games during this sensitive period marked by a global health crisis,” he added (here).

Gangan TV’s report was actually about a drug treatment programme to reduce the prevalence and intensity of the parasitic infection schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever, in school age children in  Dubreka last year. 

A subsequent report compiled by Sightsavers, an NGO behind the health scheme, said the programme had to be stopped during the first day of distribution due to community unrest after some children suffered adverse side effects such as dizziness and fever. 

Sightsavers has confirmed to Reuters that the Gangan TV report was indeed coverage of the aftermath of the schistosomiasis programme in Guinea. The NGO stressed the treatment was administered by health workers employed by Guinea’s Ministry of Health and that no French doctors were involved, nor had there been any deaths as result of the treatment using the medicine Praziquantel. 

VERDICT

False. The video being shared on social media centres around a 2019 report into a schistosomiasis drug treatment programme and is in no way linked to COVID-19.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

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