Get vaccinated. That’s what the experts, WHO, doctors, and governments around the world have been saying ever since the vaccines were introduced to the public to combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic. “Vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19, and getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19," the opening line from a report published by World Health Organization reads. Yet with society still grappling with fear and insecurity, there is a lot of unverified misinformation floating on the Internet, as many resort to bizarre and incorrect methods of dealing with the virus. One that is currently doing the rounds is an alleged statement by French virologist and Nobel Prize Winner Luc Montagnier who called mass vaccination an “unacceptable mistake" and that “all vaccinated people will die in 2 years."
The viral WhatsApp (with the marker: Forwarded Many Times) reads: “All Vaccinated people will die within 2 years: Nobel Prize Winner Luc Montagnier has confirmed that there is no chance of survival for people who have received any form of the vaccine. In the shocking interview, the world’s top virologist stated blankly: there is no hope, and no possible treatment for those who have been vaccinated already. We must be prepared to incinerate the bodies. The scientific genius backed claims of other pre eminent virologists after studying the constituents of the vaccine. They will all die from antibody dependent enhancement. Nothing more can be said."
Responding to this claim, the verified Twitter handle of Press Information Bureau (PIB) took to microblogging site to say that the WhatsApp forward is indeed fake news.
“An image allegedly quoting a French Nobel Laureate on #COVID19 vaccines is circulating on social media. The claim in the image is #FAKE. #COVID19 Vaccine is completely safe. Do not forward this image," the caption read.
— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) May 25, 2021
To amplify the message further, Assam Police shared a similar post on their Facebook account.
A report in the Alt News noted that Luc Montagnier is known for his anti-vaccine stance and cited a report from last year that said: “Montagnier inaccurately claims that the novel coronavirus is man-made and contains genetic material from HIV."
Suffering from vaccine anxiety?
“One of the reasons for Vaccine Anxiety is getting a lot of misinformation about side effects and hence there is a fear of the unknown. Also, most adults in India have not really had a vaccine in their adult lives so it seems really anxiety-provoking for those who fear injections and hospitals. For others, there is worry about actually being able to get an appointment and go to a vaccination centre where they feel they may have chances of COVID infection if there are lots of people," Dr. Prabha S Chandra, a Professor of Psychiatry at NIMHANS, Bangalore told News18.
“So, the way to handle anxiety is to talk to someone who has already received the vaccine and find out their experience and how they handled the pain in the arm or the fever that might have happened after the vaccine. Get informed about what a vaccine does. And if you have doubts ask a doctor to give you the correct information. Prepare yourself beforehand by having a painkiller or paracetamol tablets at home so that if there is fever or some pain you know how to handle it."
WHO, in its report regarding vaccination against Covid-19, said: “Vaccines train our immune system to recognize the targeted virus and create antibodies to fight off the disease without getting the disease itself. After vaccination, the body is ready to fight the virus if it is later exposed to it, thereby preventing illness."