Unconfirmed Information about the COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effect is Disseminated Through Social Networks


Facebook accounts and pages (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4 and link 5) are disseminating an image of a injured arm with the following caption: “Seven hours after being vaccinated with the Astrazeneca vaccine.” In total, there are over 7,000 shares and 500 comments on these posts. Some promoters of the image assert that the injured arm belongs to a Belgian national who got the Astrazeneca vaccine whilst some claim that the photograph features a Bulgarian woman. Some of them do not disclose the identity of the person in the photograph at all and say that it is a photograph of one of the user’s acquaintances.

This photograph was reposted in public groups such as Folk Medicine, Mikheil Saakashvili - Hope of Georgia, Supporters of Sandra Roelofs, Supporters of the United National Movement, Supporters of Misha (official) and STOP SVETSKIM ZAVERAMA.

Since the start of the vaccination roll out, a number of unsubstantiated disinformation and manipulation items were promoted through social networks and FactCheck also sought to debunk them (link 1, link 2 and link 3). This photograph was widely shared through foreign-language sources as well, although none who reposted the image indicate an official source. Most of the Facebook users claim that the photograph belongs to Bulgarian Mayya Zankova.

According to Google’s Google Image Search Tool, the aforementioned photograph with the following caption (Mayya Zankova, seven hours after taking Astrazeneca’s vaccine) was first published on social networks on 8 April 2021 and the author of the photograph is a Facebook user, Katya Petrova. Ms Petrova does not answer the question as to how she can prove the authenticity of the photograph whilst other users indicate her post as a source. The analysis of web open sources shows that Mayya Zankova can only be found in connection with the photograph whilst such a side effect of the vaccine is not reported in any official sources.

All vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines and, generally, any pharmacy products, have side effects. The observations show that the COVID-19 vaccination may cause mild symptoms such as weakness, pain at the injection site, swelling or reddening and a higher temperature. Rarely, a vaccine can spark an allergic response. According to the conclusion of the European Medicine’s Agency (EMA), among the very rare side effects of the Astrazeneca’s vaccine (also known as Vaxzevria), thrombosis (blood clots), which occurs with low thrombocytopenia, should also be included. However, the condition shown in the photograph has not been reported among the COVID-19 vaccine side effects.

FactCheck reached out to Veriko Abralava, a dermato-venereologist at the Enmedic clinic for comment. As stated by the specialist, making an accurate diagnosis based only on a photograph is impossible. However, the doctor assumes that the health condition shown in the photograph could be a complicated form of vasculitis or some kind of vascular reaction sparked by trauma or a clogged blood vessel. As stated by Ms Abralava, such a visual condition does not fit with any specific skin disease. The real reason behind the condition of the arm shown in the photograph is unknown.


The article uses data of Crowdtangle, Facebook’s analytical tool

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