The fake message has been attributed to French virologist and Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier and has been doing the rounds on WhatsApp.

Fake message stamp on Lun Montagniers message with vials of covid-19 vaccine in the foreground
Coronavirus Coronavirus Wednesday, May 26, 2021 - 09:05

A viral message has been doing the rounds on WhatsApp claiming that French virologist and Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier has said that “all vaccinated people will die within two years” and that the COVID-19 vaccination drive is a “big blunder.” This message is FAKE. 

The fake message claims, “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.” The fake message was linked to a report in LifeSiteNews, which is a Canadian far-right anti-abortion advocacy and news publication. Just earlier this month, the website was banned by Facebook for spreading misinformation on COVID-19. Snopes.com, a fact-checking resource, has previously described the website as “a known purveyor of misleading information.”

LifeSiteNews attributed its claim to an article published on the website of RAIR Foundation, a US-based NGO “to combat the threats from Islamic supremacists, radical leftists and their allies.” The article included a two-minute video, where the French virologist disparages the vaccine programme for COVID-19. TNM perused the original 11-minute video in French, which has a lot of cuts. However, while Luc Montagnier, who is known for his anti-vaccination stance, did term the mass vaccination as an “enormous mistake”, he did not explicitly state that “vaccinated people will die in two years,” as claimed in the message.  

Several anti-vaccine groups picked up professor Luc Montagnier's video to push their message. While the French professor claimed that “vaccines create new variants” (also mentioned in the fake message), scientists and international health organisations have repeatedly pointed out that virus mutation is a common phenomenon and expected. Variants are produced when viruses have one or more mutations, which takes place when it replicates in the human body. Some mutations in the COVID-19 variants are said to escape the immune system or antibodies in the body. However, the more the viruses transmit, the more it mutates. This is where vaccines play a role in limiting this transmission and preventing the emergence of new mutants and variants, say experts. 

Speaking to TNM, Dr T Jacob John, an eminent virologist from Vellore, also dismissed the claims shared in the WhatsApp message and said the video doing the rounds on social media with the claims could be doctored.  "It is absolutely fake. A lie can travel across the world faster than the truth can tie its shoes. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and this claim is absolutely false," he said. 

Neuroscientist Dr Sumaiya Sheikh, who has a PhD in medicine, took to Twitter to fact-check the claims made in the message. “The French laureate Luc Montagnier’s message about vaccines creating new variants is FALSE. 1. Vaccines prevent transmission and inhibit the formation of new variants by inhibiting large scale viral replication. 2. The COVID-19 vaccine will not kill you within two years,” wrote Dr Sumaiya Sheikh on Twitter.

 The official Twitter handle of the Press Information Bureau’s fact check account has also clarified that this message is fake. “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,” PIB tweeted. 

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that COVID-19 vaccines in India are safe and has urged all citizens to get vaccinated. The government has said that the vaccines have been introduced in the country only after the regulatory bodies clear it based on its safety and efficacy.

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