Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Misinformation and conspiracy theories are currently running rampant surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, spreading faster than the virus itself. It is ridiculous to conceive that we live in a world which plays hosts to grotesque amounts of unsubstantiated “findings” or “facts” posing as science.
But what is most concerning, is how many adults absorb nonsense on a life-threatening topic such as the current pandemic and the solution therein, without fact-checking.
The creative conspiracies around the vaccine menacingly increased after the National Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize announced the SARS-COV-2 Coronavirus vaccine rollout strategy update for SA. An approach aimed at seeing approximately 67.5% of the South African population vaccinated, in order to develop herd immunity.
The positive news of a vaccine being made available has sadly been overshadowed by people incorrectly stating the long-awaited treatment is a sinister plan to microchip people or is the “Mark of the Beast” (according to Revelation 13 of the Christian Bible).
Firstly these claims are fake, false nonsense, based on “tin oil hat theories” which stem, not from science but rather from a doctored video on Facebook claiming Bill Gates is trying to microchip the world (Bill Gates even addressed these accusations, telling reporters the allegations are so bizarre they are humorous.) In reality, the vaccine only consists of genetic material housed in salt, sugar and fats.
Read more: Newcastle COVID cases explode, Mediclinic Newcastle and ER24 EMS opens up
However, to offer you scope, from various people on the subject, we interviewed Reverend Fiona Calvary of Newcastle Methodist Church, ER 24 EMS and the Newcastle Municipality.
Rev Calvary states she believes there is immense fearmongering surrounding the topic. “People are afraid of getting the vaccine and what it holds for them in the future. If we look at the past where vaccines were developed for diseases such as polio, we are fortunate to have laboratories which are capable of doing so much more than those from the past.”
As for the “Mark of the Beast”, Rev Calvary points out, one should avoid looking for conspiracy theories in scripture. This includes taking certain biblical verses literally and distorting them to suit one’s needs—especially when a person is not educated on the topic. Taking proactive steps to iron out these misconceptions, the Methodist Church is arranging a webinar which will see theological and medical experts discussing the various vaccines’ aspects.
Apart from the “Mark of the Beast” and microchipping there are outlandish claims stating 5G Internet solutions cause COVID-19. This ludicrous claim is now resulting in people crossing the line—with towers being destroyed recently around KZN. The matter reached such an extent, the Newcastle Municipality took to social media, debunking the link between COVID-19 and 5G towers.
Head of Communications at Newcastle Municipality, Mlungisi Khumalo stresses it is imperative to cross-check all information to avoid falling victim to the large amount of misinformation currently being shared.
Frontline medical practitioner, Willem Rossouw of ER24 EMS states with so many conspiracy theories around, “It is important to source all information from reputable sources.” Validating information, he enthuses, ensures people are educated on the topic and misinformation is minimised.
Authors: Quinton Boucher and Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer