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Fact check: COVID-19 vaccines in the UK have been tested and authorised for use

A Facebook video making false claims about the novel coronavirus and authorised COVID-19 vaccines has been shared online.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The 13-minute clip was posted on Feb. 10, 2021 (here) and includes numerous opinions and statements. This article will address only the primary claims.

The individual in the clip says: “You’ve given what is called informed consent to have a vaccine and they don’t even know what they’re putting in you, so how do you? You don’t.” (2.30)

He continues: “If you look and you see this virus has a survival rate of 99.96%, and you’re now joyfully injecting yourselves with untested, unauthorised so-called vaccines that are not even vaccines.” (5.23)

Firstly, the ingredients of authorised vaccines are known by the UK government and available to the public. The ingredients of the Pfizer vaccine are available (here, scroll to #6), the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine ingredients are listed (here, scroll to #6) and the Moderna vaccine’s contents are detailed (here , scroll to #6). The role of different vaccine ingredients are explained by Oxford University’s Vaccine Knowledge Project here .

Secondly, the figure given for COVID-19’s mortality rate lacks crucial context. There is no definitive global fatality rate because it is difficult to measure the total number of infections, as explained in this Reuters article from September 2020 (here). Many experts believe the coronavirus likely kills 0.5% to 1% of people infected, and while this may sound like a small number, this makes it very dangerous until a vaccine is available.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) told Reuters in October last year: “If 0.01% of the global population dies from a disease, it means a large number of deaths (780,000 deaths, estimating the world population at 7.8 billion)”.

The spokesperson added: “We know that the vast majority of the world population remains susceptible to COVID-19. This means that if we do not take actions to control its spread, deaths from this disease will continue to increase” (here).

Survival rates also vary by age group and health status. Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in September that the death rate for people over the age of 80 was probably one in six, but could be as low as one in 10,000 for people under 20 (here). The picture is further complicated by the development of new strains that may be more lethal (here).

There are many different measures of calculating the risk of COVID-19 and Oxford University’s Our World in Data project details the complexities of data on excess mortality (here), fatality risk (here) and other metrics during the pandemic (ourworldindata.org/coronavirus). But there is no denying the novel virus is life-threatening to many, having killed over 121,000 people in the UK (here) and more than 2,340,000 individuals globally (covid19.who.int/) at the time of publication.

Thirdly, the approved COVID-19 vaccines have been tested and authorised. The process of how vaccines are developed, licensed and monitored is explained by Oxford University’s Vaccine Knowledge Project (here), the European Medicines Agency (bit.ly/2YLLros) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (here). In the UK, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was approved on Dec. 2, 2020 (here), AstraZeneca’s vaccine followed on Dec. 30, 2020 (here) and at the time of publication the last vaccine to be authorised was Moderna’s on Jan. 8, 2021 (here). Reuters has addressed previous false claims about vaccine testing here , here , and here .

Finally, the claim that the government is offering “so-called vaccines that are not even vaccines” may reference misinformation purporting that only governments are calling the COVID-19 jabs “vaccines”. Reuters debunked this false claim here .

VERDICT

False. The speaker in this video discusses the virus’s mortality rate without providing the full context and makes incorrect statements about the safety of vaccines. At the time of writing, the UK government has approved three COVID-19 jabs after rigorous clinical testing and published the component ingredients of these vaccines online.

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

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