Fabricated article claims Putin called for destruction of Covid vaccines
A fabricated article from a notorious false news website claiming Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the destruction of Covid-19 vaccines is fuelling anti-vaccine sentiment on social media. There is no evidence the Russian government sought to destroy vaccine stocks and the health department continues to promote the country's flagship Sputnik V jab.
"Putin Orders Destruction of All Covid-19 Vaccines in Russia," reads the headline of an article shared on Facebook.
The story was published on March 4 by Real Raw News, a website that regularly spreads misinformation and features a disclaimer saying it contains "humor, parody and satire".
The fabricated report says the Russian leader "has ordered the destruction of all Covid-19 vaccine stockpiles on Russian soil" after he "arrived at the inescapable conclusion that vaccines could cause a person to develop HIV and AIDS".
Scientists have rejected baseless claims that Covid-19 vaccines cause HIV as "fear mongering", and highlight that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.
But many Facebook users appeared to believe the article was genuine, with some congratulating Putin and calling for an end to vaccine "tyranny".
"Thank you Putin, leading the way," one person commented.
"Although this is a good move, it’s still too late for all those who were forced to have it & are now infected for life," said another.
The same article was shared by the "Aussie News Tonight" Facebook page and by a US-based Twitter user with 36,000 followers who called it "wonderful news".
Russian support for vaccination
There is no evidence that Putin ordered the destruction of Covid-19 vaccines in Russia.
There was no press release announcing such a measure on the Russian government's website or a report by the state-owned TASS news agency, as of March 10.
On the contrary, Russia continues to recommend Covid-19 vaccination.
On March 6, TASS reported that a Chinese study in The Lancet medical journal found Russia's Sputnik V jab was "among the world's most effective and safe coronavirus vaccines".
A day earlier, the Russian health ministry published a Telegram post to promote the jab, saying it protects against severe Covid-19.
Despite the Kremlin's efforts to tout its flagship jab, there is widespread vaccine scepticism in Russia. Just 54 percent of the country's population had received two Covid-19 vaccine doses as of March 10, according to the Gogov website, which tracks the data.