FALSE: COVID-19 vaccine more dangerous than the disease

At a glance
  • Claim: The COVID-19 vaccine is more dangerous than the disease it promises to fight.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: Various studies have shown that COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the disease. More than three million people worldwide died of the disease, but there have been no reports of death proven to be directly linked to the vaccines.
  • Why we fact-checked this: A Facebook video with this false claim has gained 1,600 reactions, 5,600 comments and 340,000 views, as of writing. In comments on the video, several netizens say they believe and applaud the Filipina doctor who made the claim.
Complete details

An online interview in Hiligaynon featuring an Ilonggo endocrinologist, Dr. Dolores Octaviano, shows several false claims about the COVID-19 vaccine.

At around the 25:00 mark, the doctor falsely claims that the COVID-19 vaccine causes more danger than the disease it is supposed to prevent. She says the vaccine is "experimental," and alleges that its development was rushed.

The doctor also falsely claims that the COVID-19 vaccine brings COVID-19 to recipients.

This interview was conducted in a Mug Sesyon program of Radyo Ilonggo, a radio station based in Iloilo City. It was uploaded on Facebook on April 21, 2021.  Octaviano was again featured on the show on June 1 and stressed her earlier claims about COVID-19 vaccines.

The two-month-old video has gained 1,600 reactions, 5,600 comments and 340,000 views, as of writing. In the comments section, several netizens say they believe and applaud the doctor for her claims about the COVID-19 vaccines. 

This claim is false.

Various studies have shown that COVID-19 vaccines are effective against COVID-19.

On its official website, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says none of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, so a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make a recipient get infected with COVID-19.

“COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness,” CDC says on its website. 

The Department of Health (DOH) also says on its official website that COVID-19 vaccines cannot make a recipient sick with COVID-19.

The DOH has also posted a graphic debunking the claim made by the doctor. It clarifies that COVID-19 vaccines are not more dangerous than COVID-19, which has killed more than three million people worldwide. Of this number, there have been no reports of death confirmed to be directly linked to the vaccines for COVID-19.

Because COVID-19 is a world public health emergency, there has been a speedy development of the vaccines. However, the vaccines are also not experimental, as they have gone through standard safety testing before being rolled out to the public.

In the Philippines, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier cleared the vaccines of Pfizer and BioNTechAstraZenecaSinovacGamaleya Research InstituteJ&J, Bharat Biotech, and Moderna for emergency use in the country.

The Philippine College of Physicians – Western Visayas Chapter (PCP-WV)-Panay, of which Octavanio is a member, released a statement on June 4, supporting the DOH's vaccination campaign and slammed those spreading false information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a news article by Panay News, Octaviano stressed she only wanted the public to make an “informed decision," but refused to comment on the alleged move to suspend her membership in PCP-WV.

Similar posts with the false claim have been debunked by fact-checking organizations around the world, including Reuters and Politifact, and health organizations CDC and John Hopkins Medicine.

Here are other false claims about COVID-19 vaccines that Rappler has debunked:

Jene-Anne Pangue/ Rappler.com

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