On June 11, Nino Ratishvili, host of Obieqtivi TV’s Gamis Studia (Night Studio) program, and Tina Topuria, a homeopath invited to the program, spoke about COVID-19 vaccination. Nino Ratishvili claimed that the existence of a vaccination summit may become a signal for making vaccination mandatory in “the third countries” as well as for launching experiments in Georgia. Tina Topuria noted that a coronavirus vaccine will be tested on black people first and then on white people in the third countries, including Georgia and Ukraine.
The narratives voiced on Obieqtivi TV about mandatory COVID-19 vaccination are manipulative and aim at sowing fear as if Georgia will be used as a proving ground for testing the vaccine and vaccination will not be voluntary for citizens. In fact, volunteers from 102 countries are involved in COVID-19 vaccine trials, whereas there are no regulations on mandatory vaccination amid clinical trials.
- Global Vaccine Summit has nothing in common with mandatory vaccination
The Global Vaccine Summit 2020, hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was held on June 4. Representatives from 52 countries, including Georgia, participated in the Summit. Nino Ratishvili artificially links the Summit to the issue of mandatory vaccination, especially as the participants did not even raise the issue. The Summit focused not only on coronavirus vaccines, but also on allocating funds to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, for the next five years to immunize 300 million more children in lower-income countries against diseases like measles, polio and diphtheria by the end of 2025. The UK remains the Vaccine Alliance’s largest donor, pledging the equivalent of £330 million per year over the next five years. Other top donors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Norway, Germany and the United States. Eight countries made their first ever pledge to GAVI, including Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Finland, Greece, New Zealand, Portugal and Uganda.
- Participation in vaccine trials is voluntary and it is underway throughout the world
Any claims as if coronavirus vaccines are being tested on patients in the third countries and have a mandatory nature are absolutely groundless. At present, coronavirus vaccines are undergoing clinical trials and over 28,000 volunteers from 102 countries are involved. Registration of volunteers is actively underway just in the developed countries; for example, the United States plans a massive testing effort involving between 100,000 and 150,000 volunteers. Vaccines will be tested in health care workers and communities. Washington, D.C, which has not reached the peak of its outbreak, is one likely test site.
Thus, participation in clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines is voluntary. As already mentioned above, the vaccine is undergoing clinical trials not in specific “third countries,” but in various developed countries throughout the world, including the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Upon the WHO directives, clinics inform the volunteers about the risks they may face. They give them time to think over their decisions and involve them in clinical trials only after receiving written consents from them. Furthermore, patients can withdraw from trials at any moment. Besides covering volunteers’ travel and medical expenses, clinics also transfer fees to them, the amount of which differs by countries.
- There are no regulations and practice regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccination
At present, there is no coronavirus vaccine that has undergone all stages of clinical trials; therefore, any claims about its mandatory nature are untimely. In this view, various countries have different practices. For example, vaccines are not mandatory in UK. Thus, considering current regulations, there are no well-grounded doubts that COVID-19 vaccine may become mandatory. Some European countries carry out mandatory immunization against measles, rubella, mumps, tetanus, etc. But a number of states have not made any decision on COVID-19 vaccines so far. The governments of Canada and Germany have stated that fake news is spread regarding mandatory vaccination, though no such regulation exists so far.
As for Georgia, it is unknown what the government will decide in the future. Government officials have yet to make official statements on the issue. Bidzina Kulumbegov, medical doctor at Center of Allergy and Immunology, clarifies that COVID-19 vaccination will be voluntary.
Along with other conspiracy theories about COVID-19, various actors promote an opinion that vaccination contains serious risks. The Myth Detector wrote about this issue in its earlier publication. Georgian clerics, who are among the authors of conspiracy theories, claimed that “a vaccine is a satanic plot and it aims at subduing people.” Facebook page “თავისუფალი სული” (Free Spirit) was among the sources and its post about coronavirus vaccines had about 2,000 shares. Speaking about the vaccine, which has yet to be developed, the page claimed that along with subduing people, it would cause male infertility and impotence.
Prepared by Maiko Ratiani