A nursing home worker receives an AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Seoul on February 26, 2021 ( POOL / JUNG YEON-JE)

Photo shows baby sick from Covid-19, not after 'pregnant mother received vaccine'

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A photo of a sick baby is circulating in social media posts claiming it shows an infant who fell ill after his mother received a Covid-19 vaccine. The claim is false; the baby in the photo was in fact suffering from Covid-19 and a heart condition. Global health experts advise pregnant women to take the shot.

"This is the baby of a mother who was vaccinated. Many paediatric experts have discovered that a mother's vaccination can be delivered to a foetus in the womb and that a newborn that is exposed to this new vaccine can develop pericarditis, encephalitis or meningitis," reads a Korean-language post on Naver Blog from October 12..

"For pregnant mothers, vaccines themselves can have a terrible effect on the fetuses."

The photo -- which AFP has pixelated below -- shows a baby covered in tubes, alongside an English-language tweet showing a similar warning to the Korean text.

   

Screenshot of the misleading claim shared on Naver Blog (pixelated by AFP), captured October 13, 2021

Similar claims have also been shared here and here on Naver Blog.

However, the claim is false.

Unrelated to vaccines

AFP ran a Google reverse image search of the photo of the baby and found it in an article from June 2, 2020 published by British newspaper The Daily Mail.

According to the article, the child in the photo, Thomas Lovell, was suffering from Covid-19 and a heart condition, which forced doctors in London to perform open-heart surgery on the infant.

He later made a full recovery.

There is no mention in the article of Lovell's mother having received a vaccination before his birth.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo shared on Naver Blog (left) and the photo in The Daily Mail's article (right):

Warning

Screenshot comparison of the photo shared on Naver Blog (L) and the original photo of the baby published by the Daily Mail (R).


The same photo was published in similar reports by British newspaper The Times and broadcaster ITV. Neither report mentioned Covid-19 vaccination.

In fact, Britain's first Covid-19 vaccination shot was administered on December 8, 2020, months after Thomas Lovell was diagnosed with Covid-19.

Vaccination advice

Global health experts recommend that pregnant women receive a Covid-19 shot.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) classifies pregnant women as being at "high risk" of developing serious complications as a result of Covid-19, and recommends inoculation.

"According to data from countries that do carry out vaccinations for pregnant women, like the US and Israel, the likelihood of experiencing adverse effects from vaccines is the same between pregnant and non-pregnant cohorts," reads KCDA guidance published on October 7.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Britain's National Health Service also advise women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding to receive vaccinations. 

AFP has previously fact-checked claims linking Covid-19 vaccines with adverse pregnancy outcomes here and here