False posts misrepresent image of lung scan taken before wide Covid-19 vaccine roll-out

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An image purporting to compare the lungs of person vaccinated against Covid-19 with someone who has not received the jab has been shared hundreds of times in multiple Facebook and Twitter posts. The claim is false: the image is unrelated to vaccination. It shows a medical scan of a Covid-19 patient’s lungs from a Canadian university study that has circulated online since at least April 2020. The study does not mention vaccination and predates the mass roll-out of Covid-19 jabs.

The image was posted here on Facebook on May 13, 2021. It has since been shared more than 500 times.

The post’s Thai-language caption translates to English as: “The virus begins by causing inflammation in the nasal cavity, throat. If [your] body is strong/have antibodies from vaccine inoculation it may enter the lungs but it will be manageable.”

“However those who did not receive the vaccine + have underlying symptoms such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or lung disease, when the disease enters the lungs it will become inflamed.”

The Thai text superimposed on the image claims the photo on the left is a “Computer generated image of the lungs of a person” who is “vaccinated”; while the photo on the right purportedly shows someone who is “unvaccinated”.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on May 18, 2021

The post circulated online as Thailand battled a third wave of coronavirus cases.

As of May 19, 2021, the kingdom has recorded more than 110,000 Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Thailand’s public health ministry reported that since February 28, 2021, it has administered more than 2.2 million vaccine doses to at-risk groups, as of May 17, 2021.

The same image has been shared alongside a similar claim here, here and here on Facebook, and here on Twitter.

The claim is false: the image is not related to Covid-19 vaccination.

A reverse image search on Google found the same image published on this news article by Richmond News, a Canadian online news site, on April 22, 2020.

Screenshot of the news article by Richmond News, taken on May 18, 2021

The photo’s caption reads: “Researchers and radiologists with Vancouver General Hospital, the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute are at the helm of an international study that aims to better predict the presence of COVID-19 using CT scans.”

A larger version of the image can be found in this article by the University of British Columbia.

The article is titled: “Prognostication of COVID-19 on CT-Scans”.

Both publications do not contain any reference to Covid-19 vaccination.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the image from the misleading Facebook post (L) and the image from the University of British Columbia (R):

Screenshot comparison between the image from the misleading Facebook post (L) and the image from the University of British Columbia (R)

Mass vaccine rollouts did not begin until December 2020, more than seven months after the CT-scan images were reported.

AFP reported on the initial stages of vaccine roll-outs in the UK and US in December 2020 here.

Thailand started its vaccine roll-out to risk groups in mid-March 2021. National vaccine roll-outs are expected to commence in June 2021, as AFP reported here.

COVID-19