By Ogar Monday and Sekyen Dadik (Nigeria), Cece Siago (Kenya)
Samuel Edem, said he will not take the COVID-19 vaccine because of the claims on social media that it makes people magnetic.
Referring to a video shared in a WhatsApp group; the media practitioner based in Abuja, the Nigerian capital said “I saw the video of people who took the vaccine becoming magnetic. I don’t think I want to take that risk now. I will wait for a while before I submit myself for vaccination.”
This form of misinformation and disinformation spread by some social media users continue to act as a clog on the wheel of progress being made by authorities in both Nigeria and Kenya to curb the spread of the corona virus in the countries.
In one of such viral video, a group of people claimed they took the vaccine and the injected spot is magnetic and attracts spoons, keys, phones and could also light a bulb.
Also amplifying the false claim, Nigerian based preacher, Evangelist Ebube Joseph Ezeaguba in a five minutes, thirty-eight seconds long video shared on WhatsApp, said that those who took the vaccine become magnetic, with items like metals sticking to their arms.
Videos with those false claims are now causing fear, not only to those unvaccinated but to those vaccinated too.
The video has scared me
While many people laughed at, and brushed off the magnet videos, they were others who believed the fake claim leaving themselves and their loved ones to the mercies of contracting the virus.
Despite being one of the few persons eligible for the limited dose of the vaccine, Farhiya Hussein, a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya said she has not turned up at any of the vaccination sites due to some of the side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine she has seen in videos shared on social media, claims that have all been false.
“I am waiting for a different type of vaccine. Maybe, Pfizer or Sputnik, this is because I have read so much about AstraZeneca and its effects that I cannot put my life on the line anymore,” she said.
Dispelling the claims
To debunk the claims, we spoke to people who had taken the vaccines and some medical experts in Nigeria and Kenya.
Frank Uche, a student at the University of Calabar, South-South Nigeria said he had taken 2 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with no effect of any such as portrayed in the video.
“I have tried following the videos I was seeing on social media about the magnetic capacity of the vaccine at the site of injection. I tried the experiment with metals like spoons, needles and bottle covers on my left hand. But there was no magnetic effect,” Uche said.
A Real Estate Developer, Timothy Makama in Kaduna, North West Nigeria on his part said “all those claims on the injected site being magnetic are false claims, it is not true because I took the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine in march 2021 and about to take the second dose. When these videos came out, my wife placed a spoon on my arm but it did not magnet, they are not true”.
“Though I had fears that something could happen but when I took it there was no any reaction sincerely and until now I have not experienced any Adverse effect”, he said.
For Joyce Musa Mato, a teacher with the Kaduna State Primary Education Board who has taken the first and second jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine, she has not experienced any magnetic impact on the vaccine spot.
There is no scientific backing to the claim that the vaccine makes you magnetic- Experts
Experts in Nigeria and Kenya have advised those still sitting on the fence to quickly visit the nearest vaccination centre and get vaccinated so as to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.
Responding to the electromagnetic claims on the vaccines, Dr Simji Gomerep, said these claims are fictitious as no one has presented such case to the COVID-19 Case Management Team in Plateau State Nigeria.
According to him, “There are quite a number of people that have taken the vaccines, these people should try it to see if this is true. These claims are fictitious as we have not seen any case like that. People just produce videos and begin to post such fake news just to dissuade people from accepting the vaccination.”
Gomerep, a Consultant Physician and the Case Management Lead for COVID-19 in Plateau State, in North Central Nigeria, said, “I have taken the two doses of the vaccine and my body is normal and does not magnetize anything. These videos are fictitious and people should disregard them completely, there is no truth in that.
“There is no medical explanation for such claims. Those videos are just produced with the aim of deceiving people from accepting these vaccines which have been scientifically proven to be efficacious and we have seen it in developed countries and with the third wave of the pandemic; those coming down with severe symptoms are people who are unvaccinated. It further tells us that these vaccines are helping in the control of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“I am a case manager but I have not seen one person that is experiencing any of those claims, not at all, so these things are not true”, he said.
An Epidemiologist at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the largest research institute in Kenya, Francis Angira on his part said: “The vaccines have taken so long to be studied and developed. Several trials have also been done to ensure that they have no negative effects on humans.”
He encouraged everyone to receive these vaccines as they have been scientifically proven and are not wishful products that someone woke up to produce, there is a scientific process from pre-clinical to clinical studies to ascertain that it has value in preventing this disease.
From conversations with those who have taken the vaccines and medical experts in both Nigeria and Kenya, it becomes clear that these claims are not true, as such the COVID-19 Vaccine does not make its recipients magnetic.
This publication was produced as part of IWPR’s Africa Resilience Network (ARN) programme, administered in partnership with the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR), the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), and Africa Uncensored. For more information on ARN, please visit the ARN site: https://africaresiliencenetwork.com/