Dr. Elisa Granato, one of the first volunteers in UK's human trials for a vaccine for coronavirus, has clarified that she is alive and healthy after false rumours of her death went viral on social media.
Granato, a microbiologist, has become the first human to be injected for the human trial phase of a vaccine in the UK against the novel coronavirus being developed by a group of scientists at the University of Oxford.
She is the first volunteer in an initial group of 800 to be part of the ground-breaking trial, which is hoped will be the answer for immunisation against the deadly virus and help with the easing of lockdown measures in place to curb its rapid transmission.
Yet, news of her having developed complications after the trial and then dying have been doing the rounds on social media. A fake article, which claimed that she had died, was the source of the rumour.
The article says, "She died two days after the vaccine was administered, authorities have said and added that an investigation into the cause of the death has been initiated. A statement by the researchers said Elisa had complications few hours after taking the vaccine and died while on admission."
However, Granato herself tweeted that the news was false on Twitter before making her account private. BBC's medical correspondent, Fergus Walsh then tweeted to say that she was alive and that he'd just spoken to her.
He wrote, "Fake news has been circulating on social media that the first volunteer in the Oxford vaccine trial has died. This is not true! I spent several minutes this morning chatting with Elisa Granato via Skype."
Fake news has been circulating on social media that the first volunteer in the Oxford vaccine trial has died. This is not true! I spent several minutes this morning chatting with Elisa Granato via Skype. She is very much alive and told me she is feeling “absolutely fine” pic.twitter.com/iWAtYaSkRZ— Fergus Walsh (@BBCFergusWalsh) April 26, 2020
The Department of Health and Social Care also tweeted saying the same and reported that fake news of her death had been circulating. The tweet also requested users to verify news before believing or forwarding it.
News circulating on social media that the first volunteer in a UK #coronavirus vaccine trial has died is completely untrue.Before sharing unsubstantiated claims online, use the SHARE checklist to help stop the spread of harmful content: ▶️ https://t.co/9rAFQES8Xm pic.twitter.com/HgG4cHnLFQ— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) April 26, 2020
The aim of the human trial is to assess whether healthy people can be protected from Covid-19 with this new vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. It will also provide valuable information on safety aspects of the vaccine and its ability to generate good immune responses against the deadly virus.
By vaccinating with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the Oxford University team is hoping to make the body recognise and develop an immune response to the spike protein that will help stop the SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 virus from entering human cells and therefore prevent infection.