The latest on fake news surrounding COVID-19 vaccines includes online users sharing an image with a claim which reads, “hospitals on lockdown as first covid vaccine patients start eating other patients.” The claim’s image shows what looks like a post-trauma surgery hospital room and is being attributed to CNN, Los Angeles, USA.
Fact Check/ Verification
We first did a Google reverse image search of the photograph in context. This led us to a 2019 opinion piece published by the New York Times (NYT). Titled, “I remember the first time I saw a teenager die,” the article includes the same image from the claim, but without CNN’s logo and breaking news headline.
Published on 14 February 2019, the image in the NYT opinion piece carries the caption, “The trauma bay in the emergency department at Temple University Hospital after resuscitation efforts failed,” and credited to Eric Curran, the article’s author.
“I started photographing this room out of the helplessness and despair I felt about these senseless deaths. I wanted the violence to stop. I asked if I could hold a camera. Not to capture the dead and dying. They deserve privacy and respect. But I wondered if capturing and sharing the moments after lives are saved and lost could help Americans understand what is happening,” writes Curran.
The NYT opinion piece was written to throw light on the issue of gun violence in the United States. Nearly 40,000 lives were lost to guns in 2017, reads another NYT article.
We compared the claim’s image (left) to the photograph in the 2019 NYT opinion piece (right) and found many similarities. In fact, they were identical with the exception of CNN’s logo, breaking news headline, and the city and time stamp.
CNN Aspect In The Claim
Further, we looked through multiple CNN videos posted on their youtube channel to cross-check if the claim’s image was used in any of their shows, but found nothing.
Oddly, the claim’s image also included a line which reads, “Nancy Pelosi arrested for DUI.” We did a relevant keyword search to verify this claim, but found no credible evidence to support it. Though we did come across a false drunken photo claim attributed to the speaker of the US House of Representatives, which was previously debunked by other fact-checkers.
With news on COVID-19 vaccines making headlines worldwide, we’ve observed a rise in related misleading and fake news being shared on social media platforms.
The claim’s image included Los Angeles as a city stamp likely because there have been many news reports on leaders/ politicians in the United States receiving the COVID-19 vaccines.
We found that the image in the claim (in context) aimed to spark fear among citizens using CNN’s logo to pass it off as being authentic information.
This claim has been debunked in our Hindi fact-check as well.
The original image in the claim is from a 2019 opinion piece published by the New York Times in light of the gun violence witnessed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The image is not related to coronavirus, and has been manipulated to spark fear among citizens.
New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/us/gun-deaths.html
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