University of Oxford researchers had begun testing a COVID-19 vaccine in human volunteers last week. At a time when scientists and health care professionals around the world are working round the clock to fast track a cure or a vaccine for the deadly disease, this project grabbed worldwide attention.
Dr Elisa Granato, a microbiologist, was one of the members of the first batch of 2 patients to get injected with the vaccine last Thursday (23rd April). They were to be monitored for a period of 48 hours after which another batch were to be injected.
On this backdrop, a number of social media reports were shared across the world with the caption “First volunteer in UK coronavirus vaccine trial has died – News Oxford” as seen below.
Most of these posts were based on a report by a website called “News NT” and they went on to state that “Researchers who are awaiting for an autopsy to be conducted believe the Elisa had an underlying health condition which was not disclosed to health officials.” Below is an extract from the article.
First we carried out a Google News search, since such an incident must have been reported by media worldwide, yet did not find any report related to the death of Dr Elisa Granato. Instead, we found a number of news reports mentioning the news related to death of Dr Elisa was fabricated.
We checked the Oxford University news on Twitter and noticed a Tweet from the Department of Health and Social Care, UK as below.
“News circulating on social media that the first volunteer in a UK #coronavirus vaccine trial has died is completely untrue. Before sharing unsubstantiated claims online, use the SHARE checklist to help stop the spread of harmful content: https://sharechecklist.gov.uk”
We checked for news reports related to this incident from UK and found a number of journalists reporting the incident as fake and BBC journalist Fergus Walsh had Tweeted as “Fake news has been circulating on social media that the first volunteer in the Oxford vaccine trial has died. This is not true! I spent several minutes this morning chatting with Elisa Granato via Skype. She is very much alive and told me she is feeling “absolutely fine” and even uploaded a small clip of the conversation with Dr Elisa Granato in person which happened yesterday 26th April after the viral claim about her death on social media as below.
We cross checked this information with the official Twitter account of Dr Elisa Granato. At the time of reporting her Twitter profile was made private however noticed a Tweet with a snapshot from her original account as below.
From our investigation it is clear that Dr Elisa Granato the first patient to undergo clinical tests for a new vaccine at Oxford University was alive and doing well on Sunday 26th April and all social media reports about her death were false.
Title:Fake Article about Dr. Elisa Granato’s DeathFact Check By: Sathyajith Subasinghe