The first week of 2021 continues to witness mis/ disinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccines.
The Central Drugs and Standards Committee on Sunday approved the restricted emergency use of two COVID-19 vaccines—Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and Covishield developed by Serum Institute of India. Nearly 30 crore people are said to receive the jab during the first phase of vaccination. This includes healthcare and frontline workers, plus those above 50 years old who will receive the vaccine on a priority basis.
Amid this, claims of COVID-19 vaccine best administered via the penis have been in circulation on Twitter. These are accompanied by an image allegedly from CNN.com with the headline, “Doctors encourage covid-19 vaccine injections in penis.” The bottom of the image further states, “Doctors are discovering that, for male patients, the penis offers the fastest release of the vaccine throughout the body. Based on findings from a University of California study involving 1,500 men who received the vaccine.” It includes the image of a man wearing a lab coat and stethoscope next to a sketch of an injection being put in the penile region.
TV journalist at TV9Bharatvarsh also shared this image with the caption, “Did a doctor really say that the #COVID19 vaccine is best administered via the penis? Please tell us it isn’t true!”
The image in context was also published on a website called ifunny.co. Image here had an additional note at the bottom which reads, “They’re taking extra precautions to make sure the vaccine sterilizes you. Don’t get vaccinated.”
On a related note, we received a screenshot of what looks like a study titled, “unexpected reactions to COVID-19 vaccines – penis enlargement,” on our Whatsapp verification number.
Fact Check/ Verification
We first did a reverse Google image search of the image in context. But it didn’t yield any helpful results. Next, we looked through CNN’s website and found that they didn’t run such a story. Nor could we find any scientific study matching the claim’s description.
Though the sketch “showing the “safe area for injection” into a penis in fact came from an instruction manual for penile self-injection as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, taken from the website of the Kansas City, Missouri-area St. Luke’s Health System,” reads a fact-check by Snopes.
Further, we ran a Google reverse image search of the part of the image showing a man wearing a lab coat and stethoscope.
This led us to a website called biotemedical.com which includes the same photograph as shown in the claim’s image. The photograph is attributed to Dr. Mohitkumar Ardeshana, a primary medical care doctor. The website also leads to Claremont Medical Center where Dr Ardeshana is also featured.
We’ve reached out to Claremont Medical Center for verification. This copy will be updated if and when we receive a response from them.
Another Related Claim
Next, we looked at the screenshot about a study we received on our Whatsapp number. The study titled, “Unexpected reactions to COVID-19 vaccines – penis enlargement,” also includes multiple author names, PMID and DOI digits as well as an abstract.
We searched the web with the PMID number (33378789) given. PMID is a unique identifier number that can be used to find abstracts in PubMed, a free search engine for biomedical literature primarily from the MEDLINE database. This led us to a study on allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines.
On comparing the screenshot we received (Left) and the original study published on PubMud (Right) we found that they had the same PMID and DOI numbers as well as the list of authors were the same, but its title and abstract were entirely different. The original study did not include the terms ‘penis enlargement’, ‘male genitalia’ or ‘pills market’ as seen in the screenshot.
Additionally, we looked up the title and abstract from the screenshot on Google but could not find any related information.
Claims on CNN publishing a story in which doctors’ recommend COVID-19 vaccines injections in the penis as well as the screenshot of a study on penis enlargement as a reaction to COVID-19 vaccines are false. Claim’s image has been edited to imitate CNN’s story and no such studies have been published.
Claremont Medical Center: https://www.claremontmedicalcenter.com/