Nearly two weeks into the second phase of the mega COVID-19 vaccination drive, India’s total administered doses stands at 2.61 crore as of 12 March. Opened to a certain category of general citizens, the second phase is catered to people above the age of sixty and those forty-five+ with related comorbidities. The government aims to inoculate around 27 crore people in this phase.
While India’s vaccine confidence continues to grow, related mis/ disinformation finds a way to seep through. This time, it comes in the form of a pamphlet circulating on social media. It discourages people from getting vaccinated against the novel coronavirus by listing its alleged negative effects. This includes:
- Unmarried women and those who do not have children are prohibited from having the vaccine (Coronavirus Vaccine) because it may lead to infertility.
- Children are prohibited from getting vaccinated because children may get diseases in the future by getting vaccinated.
- People who have pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis are prohibited from getting vaccinated because their side effects can lead to death.
- People who consume alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco have been asked to stay away from the vaccine. People who consume these products can get cancer.
- People who are suffering from neurological conditions should not get vaccinated because it can aggravate their condition.
- Diabetic patients should not get vaccinated because mild side effects of the vaccine can lead to their death.
The pamphlet includes names of five doctors at the bottom, including Biswaroop Chaudhary and Tarun Kothari. It also suggests that vaccine companies take massive amounts of bribes from the government in order to hide information on side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines. Additionally, events like the farmers’ protest at various Delhi borders and related rallies prove that there is no such thing as COVID-19 pandemic.
An archived version of this claim can be viewed here.
Fact Check/ Verification
On researching the claim made in the pamphlet, we’ve gathered that they’re false and lacking in evidence. The government of India as well as the vaccine companies have denied the claim. Additionally, guidelines with respect to the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine have been published.
We debunk each claim below.
Claim 1: Single and women without children are not required to get vaccinated because it may lead to impotency.
Verification: The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have released a fact sheet in regards to those who should/ shouldn’t get the vaccine. None of these fact sheets state that unmarried or women without children should avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine due to effects on their reproductive health.
In a recent interview, Director of Drug Controller General of India, Dr VG Somani rubbished this claim saying, “We’ll never approve anything if there’s slightest of safety concern. Vaccines are 110 % safe. Some side effects like mild fever, pain & allergy are common for every vaccine. It (that people may get impotent) is absolute rubbish.”
Claim 2: Children are prohibited from getting vaccinated because it will make them prone to contracting other diseases in the future.
Verification: In the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health & family Welfare, it is clearly mentioned that only people above 18 years will be vaccinated. Vaccination of the younger population will not be done at the moment. Director of AIIMS, Randeep Guleria, recently said that COVID-19 vaccine for children may come later. Bharat Biotech is trying to get approval for a nasal vaccine.
“The vaccines that have come are not approved for children because there have been no studies conducted on children, but this (vaccination) is a very important step and trials are being done,” added Guleria via Money Control.
“RNA based vaccine makers, Pfizer and Moderna have just started clinical trials with children,” as per an India Today report. And the process might take up to a year.
Claim 3: People who suffer from pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis are prohibited from getting the COVID-19 vaccine because their side effects can lead to death.
Verification: We could not find any such advisory issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, India or any research paper which supports this claim. Nor have the COVID-19 vaccine companies suggested the same. Additionally, we found a report by the British Lung Foundation titled, “Coronavirus vaccine: what people with lung conditions need to know,” which said that “the vaccine is safe for people with lung conditions.”
Claim 4: People who consume alcohol, cigarettes or tobacco have been asked to stay away from the vaccine since it could lead to cancer.
Verification: Experts from Russia and the United Kingdom have warned that people should avoid drinking alcohol for a brief period before they get vaccinated against COVID-19. “You need to have your immune system working tip-top to have a good response to the vaccine, so if you’re drinking the night before, or shortly afterwards, that’s not going to help,” said Sheena Cruickshank, an immunologist at the University of Manchester, via UK Metro.
However, no expert has suggested that those who consume alcohol must not get vaccinated. Also, there is no scientific evidence which links vaccines to harmful/ adverse impacts on people who consume alcohol or smoke. Nor is this claim supported by any credible research or advisory issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. In fact, in the United States’ New Jersey and Mississippi smokers can sign up for COVID-19 vaccines along with senior citizens and at-risk citizens, while other states are considering the same.
Claim 5: People suffering from neurological conditions should not get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus because it can aggravate their condition.
Verification: More than 20 million 43 lakh people have been vaccinated in India so far, as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and no such cases have come to light yet. A report by Patrika states that citizens with mental conditions as well as the visually impaired and deaf will also be vaccinated. The Patrika report also states that District immunization Officer Dr. Praveen Gautam said that now 20 critical illness patients will be vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to Dr H Chandrashekar, Advisor, Mental Health Authority of Karnataka, it is absolutely safe for mental patients to be vaccinated. We couldn’t find any research which suggests that the COVID-19 vaccine is a threat to mental patients.
Claim 6: Diabetes patients should not get vaccinated because mild side effects can lead to their death after the vaccine is administered.
Verification: We could not find any credible research supporting the claim that diabetic patients must not get th COVID-19 vaccine. Infact, “those suffering from one or more of these comorbid conditions are considered a high-risk category. Such people are advised to get COVID-19 vaccination,” reads an India TV News report referring to the Health Ministry.
On further research, we found that the logo on the pamphlet is sourced from a website named biswaroop.com whose videos have been labeled as conspiracy. The website also states that COVID-19 does not exist. Contrary to this, WHO called this a pandemic due to the spread and loss of lives caused by the novel coronavirus.
Note that Dr Biswarup Roy Chaudhary, also named in the pamphlet runs this website. We’ve found that he has shared incorrect and misleading information related to COVID-19 on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Further, Chaudhary has perpetrated false claims about the novel coronavirus in an interview with Lallantop.
You can read about this claim in our Hindi fact-check as well.
COVID-19 vaccine claims made in the viral pamphlet are misleading and false. No advisory by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare nor any factsheets by the vaccine companies support the claims related to people with diabetes or those who smoke or virgins.
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/LetterfromAddlSecyMoHFWregContraindicationsandFactsheetforCOVID19vaccines.PDF
Serum Institute of India: https://www.seruminstitute.com/pdf/covishield_fact_sheet.pdf
Director of Drug Controller General of India, Dr VG Somani: https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1345612111762735104
Money Control: https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/current-affairs-trends/coronavirus-vaccine-india-easy-to-immunize-children-with-intranasal-covid-19-vaccines-says-aiims-director-randeep-guleria-6373191.html
British Lung Foundation: https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/coronavirus/coronavirus-vaccine
Sheena Cruickshank, Immunologist at University of Manchester: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/sheena.cruickshank.html