Healthcare/Biosafety

Infodemic on “Obiektivi” TV

22 February, 2021

On February 12, 2021, Facebook user Lado Chkhetiani published the February 11 recording of the program “ღამის სტუდია” (Night Studio) aired on “Obiektivi” TV. In the recording, the host Nino Ratishvili and her guests (Tina Topuria, Irina Gelashvili, Maiko Smith) discussed the vaccines. The host and her guests develop a narrative that it is impossible to trust the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines and present several claims as proof:

  1. COVID-19 vaccine caused mortality in nursing homes in Switzerland, Norway, and U.S;
  2. Before the vaccination roll-out, England introduced the law excluding private companies and state liability to the person negatively affected by the vaccine.
  3. COVID-19 RNA vaccine causes the development of autoimmune diseases as an adverse effect. 
  4. The immune system becomes dependent on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine and people can contract the virus more easily. 
  5. COVID-19 vaccines aren’t real vaccines but “biological agents” that weren’t tested on humans or animals. 
  6. RNA vaccines will change human genetics. Viral RNA in the vaccine can be integrated into human DNA and cause genetic changes. 
  7. Since vaccines will cause infertility, men are advised to save their sperm for the future prior to vaccination.

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As of February 18, Lado Chkhetiani’s post has 1739 shares. Besides Lado Chkhetiani, the recording of the aforesaid program “Obiektivi” TV was also published by the host Nino Ratishvili on her Facebook account. The video was also shared by the Facebook user Dato Salukvadze, whose post has 214 shares.  

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The proportion of claims about the COVID-19 vaccine disseminated by the guests on the program of "Obiektivi" TV is disinformation, whereas some opinions lack evidence and stimulate scientifically unfounded fear of vaccine. 

Disinformation #1: First vaccinated person in Switzerland died a few days after the vaccination. Pfizer apologized to the family of the deceased. 

According to Tina Topuria’s claim, in Switzerland, 91 years old patient died after getting vaccinated, as a result, the patient's family received apologies, while the trial on the aforesaid fact has started and is still in the process to this day. The death of 91 years old nursing home resident on December 29, 2020, few days after the vaccination, was followed by speculations on social media. On December 30, the Swiss regulatory agency responded to the issue and published the statement, according to which medical investigation did not reveal any connection between the vaccine and the cause of death. The 91 years old patient with multiple severe illnesses in her medical history died of natural causes. Pfizer also responded to the death of the elderly. The company expressed their condolences and noted that deaths that are unrelated to the vaccine, are unfortunately likely to occur at a similar rate as they would in the general population of elderly and at-risk individuals who are currently being prioritized for vaccination. Therefore, information alleging that first they apologized to the deceased’s family and then denied its link to the vaccine isn’t true, whereas the claim as if the deceased’s family referred to the court cannot be found in open sources and lacks evidence.  

Disinformation #2: Before the vaccination rollout, England introduced  laws  that excludes any  liability to the person negatively affected by the vaccine

Although U.K indemnified several manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccine candidates including Pfizer and AstraZeneca against vaccine-related liability, it doesn’t imply that nobody takes responsibility for the serious damages of the vaccine. In the December 3, 2020 statement by the British government, we read that government has decided to add COVID-19 vaccines to the “Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme”. VDPS is a government-funded agency that provides financial compensation for those suffering from health problems because of a specific vaccine and the aforesaid scheme has been in force for years now. Hence, Tina Topuria's claim alleging that neither private manufacturer nor government in the U.K accept liability for adverse effects of the vaccine isn’t true.

Lacks evidence #1:  COVID-19 RNA vaccines will cause the mass spread of autoimmune diseases. 

As Topuria says, after viral RNA and proteins produced from it enters the body via vaccine, the body will consider it as a foreign agent and the immune system will start to attack its own cells resulting in the development of various autoimmune diseases as an adverse effect of the vaccine. Such allegations about vaccines have circulated on foreign social networks even before, however, currently, there's no evidence to back up the aforesaid allegations. In reality, autoimmune disease is a chronic illness and usually needs a long-lived foreign agent in the body. In contrast, the genetic material of the virus used in RNA vaccines is an unstable molecule that rapidly disintegrates (that's why the storage of aforesaid vaccines requires special conditions) and breaks down in the cell making long-term autoimmune reaction practically impossible to develop. Clinical trials conducted by the main manufacturing companies of RNA vaccines Pfizer and Moderna didn’t reveal autoimmune diseases as an adverse effect either.

It’s worth mentioning that autoimmune disease not only hasn't been detected in the trials of COVID-19 RNA vaccines but generally, in the RNA-technology-based vaccine trials as well. On the contrary, some scientists consider RNA vaccines as one of the potential measures against autoimmune diseases. 

Lacks evidence #2:  COVID-19 vaccines cause immune dependency. Individuals might contract the virus much easier after receiving Pfizer and Moderna vaccines 

One of the guests on the program, Maiko Smith cites American doctor Simone Gold as the source for the aforesaid claim. According to Smith, when testing on animals, the SARS virus vaccine caused immune diseases and since the SARS virus is very similar to the COVID-19 causing virus, Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines will definitely cause such complications. 

The adverse effect that Smith talks about is known as “Antibody-Dependent Enhancement” (ADE) to immunologists. During ADE, antibodies developed through vaccines do not protect the body from the virus, but instead, they increase the risk of infection and enhance the viral infection. Such adverse effect was indeed identified in separate cases during the animal trials stage of SARS-CoV vaccines and as a result, the aforesaid vaccine studies didn’t continue to the stage of human trials. Despite the similarities between the two viruses, this fact alone isn’t enough to prove that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will also cause immunopathological conditions similar to ADE. Both mentioned COVID-19 vaccines have completely passed all primary trial phases including animal and human clinical trial phase and demonstrated high efficiency against the virus. Therefore, the current scientific knowledge cannot provide a ground for the claim that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines cause immunopathologies and increase the infection risk. 

It’s worth mentioning that Dr.Simone Gold who Maiko Smith referred to as the source has systematically disseminated various disinformation about coronavirus and vaccines on social network

Other false information voiced on the program 

Besides the above-mentioned claims, the hour and a half-long recording also contain the false information that “Myth Detector” has already written about: 

  1. RNA vaccines don't cause changes in human genetics. Fragment of coronavirus RNA introduced into the body cannot affect human DNA due to different chemical compositions. Moreover, the RNA molecule in the vaccine rapidly breaks down and remains in the body only for a short while. 
    RNA or DNA-Based Vaccine? 
    What does Gates Plan Mean and Who is Behind Disinformation about Risks of RNA Vaccine?

  2. COVID-19 RNA vaccines completely underwent all animal and human testing phases. Claim alleging that RNA vaccines are administered to humans without animal testing phase and it’s experimented on the population is a myth that Tina Topuria had disseminated earlier too.
    Facebook Page Spreads Eight Lies and Two Manipulations about Vaccination

  3. In Norway, the medical assessment of death cases didn't confirm any links between the vaccine and lethal outcomes, whereas patients in one of the nursing homes in New York died of coronavirus and not a vaccine 
    Link between Deaths and Vaccination in Norway and the United States Not Confirmed
    Manipulative report alleging that vaccine caused increase in Covid-19 cases in England and Israel

  1. The existing studies don't confirm the Pfizer RNA vaccine's negative effect on fertility. Information as if men are advised to freeze and save their sperm prior to coronavirus vaccination cannot be found in open sources. Such recommendation was neither given to volunteers participating in vaccine trials. 
    Anti-Vaxxer’s Disinformation and Unfounded Claims on Obieqtivi TV

What is infodemic? 

As the World Health Organization explains, infodemic is too much information that undermines public health response and promotes alternative agenda by intentional dissemination of false information. 


Prepared by Medea Sulamanidze 


Archived link to Lado Chkhetiani’s post: https://archive.is/jC66h
Archived link to Nina Ratishvili’s post: https://archive.is/KwFSv


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