The world of news is complex - and false stories and visuals are often widely shared on social media. Blasting News’ editorial team spots the most popular hoaxes and misleading information every week to help you discern truth from falsehood . Here are the most shared claims of this week, of which none are legit.


Claim: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine research was fully funded by Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed

Facts: On November 9, Pfizer and BioNTech announced their vaccine candidate against COVID-19, showing a 90% efficiency. Following the news, Donald Trump tweeted: “As a result of Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer announced on Monday that its China virus vaccine was more than 90% effective. Pfizer said it wasn’t part of Warp Speed, but that turned out to be an unfortunate misrepresentation.” Former U.S.

Vice President Mike Pence supported Trump in another post claiming that this research came out from a “public-private partnership forged by President Donald Trump.”

Truth: Pfizer’s spokeswoman Jerica Pitts replied to these claims saying: “Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine development and manufacturing costs have been entirely self-funded. We decided to self-fund our efforts so we could move as fast as possible,” reports AP. The agreement made between the U.S.

based Pfizer and the U.S. government was about the supply of 100 million doses if the vaccine is cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Claim: Mouthwash is a cure against Coronavirus

Facts: A study made by Cardiff University, United Kingdom, was widely shared online saying that mouthwash could “kill” Coronavirus in “30 seconds” and if being exposed to it in a lab.

The study has not been peer-reviewed or published as Dr Richard Stanton, lead author on the study precised to the BBC.

Truth: A virologist at Georgetown University, Dr. Rasmussen was interviewed by The New York Times about this study. “You can use mouthwash to reduce your own chance of getting gingivitis,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to have a meaningful impact on your ability to transmit this virus,” she added.

The new coronavirus does not only infect the mouth and nose, but also the lungs and deep throat, where the product cannot enter, reports The New York Times. Dr. Rasmussen added that mouthwash “is not an antiviral.” Cardiff University’s research suggests that mouthwash could help kill the virus in saliva but does not show a treatment for coronavirus, the BBC reports.


Claim: There is an aborted male foetus’ lung tissue in the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for coronavirus

Facts: A Facebook video shows a glimpse at a presumed Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 (AZD1222) research. The video shares a page of research into AZD1222, which reads: “We used direct RNA sequencing to analyse transcript expression from the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 genome in human MRC-5 and A549 cell lines.” The next footage shows a Wikipedia page explaining that MRC-5 is: “Originally developed from research deriving lung tissue of a 14-week-old aborted Caucasian male fetus.”

Truth: AstraZeneca debunked the information to Reuters via email saying that AZD1222 was not developed using MRC-5 cell lines.

The study shown on the video is an independent study led by scientists at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. It was part of a pre-clinical research, prior to human trials, and was not included in the creation of the vaccine itself, reports Reuters.


Claim: Due to mutations in the novel coronavirus, "the vaccine cannot work”

Facts: A Facebook video that has been shared thousands of times shows Louis Fouché, a presumed doctor, saying: “We are in the fourth variant in Marseille since six months, that is to say that really, it changes all the time and the fourth variant, is really different from the first, it could almost be called SARS -CoV-3.” He adds: “People who had positive antibodies, who are supposed to have developed immunity to the first virus, had Covid a second time, Covid a third time.

That means the vaccine will never work."

Truth: AFP precises that “RNA viruses (genetic material close to DNA), such as Sars-CoV-2, mutate faster than DNA viruses because their encoding errors are more frequent.” However it adds that the novel coronavirus mutates less faster than other RNA viruses, which led scientists to agree that the virus that causes COVID-19 is “relatively stable,” reports AFP.

The virologist and president of the Covid-19 French vaccine scientific committee, Marie-Paule Kieny, explained on France Info: "At this time, there is no indication that these mutations could impact the ability of vaccines to recognize and protect against these (variants of) viruses.” However, she added: “That does not mean that it will not happen, we can arrive at a time when the mutations are too important and it will be necessary to arrange, modify the formula of the vaccine as we do every year or almost every year for the vaccine against influenza.”


Claim: Gabon has celebrated its first same-sex marriage

Facts: Several pictures showing two Gabonese women kissing each other and showing their wedding ring have been shared on social media.

The caption reads: “Gabon just officialized its first homosexual marriage in Makokou in the province of Ogoue Ivindo.”

Truth: “The law does not allow celebrating a union between people of the same sex or kissing in public because it offends morality,” said a Gabonese prosecutor, AFP reports.The fact-checking agency also interviewed one of the women’s brothers who said: "There was no village chief, no district chief, no mayor, no priest, no pastor.” AFP reports that it was a fake wedding, to make a statement proving that one of the women was ready to adopt the other woman’s child. The two women were arrested Monday, November 9 for "insulting good morals," AFP reports.


Claim: The pandemic does not exist and coronavirus is a "normal flu"

Facts: A video shared thousands of times on Facebook shows a panel of medical practitioners presenting various claims about COVID-19.

At a certain point, one of the panelists denies that the pandemic exists and calls the virus a “normal flu.”

Truth: The video was posted by a European-based group of international medical practitioners called World Doctors Alliance, famous for rejecting lockdowns as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. Contrary to what the video claims, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and was then followed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As for the claim that coronavirus is a “normal flu,” the CDC dedicates a page on its website to explain the similarities and differences between seasonal flu and COVID-19. “COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than the flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people.

It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer,” says the CDC.


Claim: Video shows penguins flying across glaciers in the South Pole

Facts: A video shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and Weibo claims to show penguins flying across glaciers in the South Pole.

Truth: According to AFP Fact Check, the claim is false. Originally published on April 1, 2008, the video was digitally created by the BBC as a prank for April Fool's Day. On the BBC's YouTube page you can find published on the same day the making of the prank.


Claim: Photos show Joe Biden harassing children

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook show two images that supposedly show Joe Biden harassing children.

The posts accuse the politician of being a paedophile.

Truth: The first image, by photographer Patrick Semansky, from the AP, shows Biden kissing the face of his grandson Robert Hunter Biden II during the funeral of Beau Biden, Robert's father, in 2015. The second image actually shows the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, kissing the face of a child during a rally in March, 2020.


Claim: Joe Biden's campaign chief was arrested

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook announce the arrest of a man named Dallas Jones, who is said to be Joe Biden's campaign chief. The posts are followed by a photo of a black man in handcuffs being escorted.

Truth: According to information from the Spanish fact-checking agency Newtral, the claim is false.

First, Joe Biden's campaign chief is a woman named Jennifer O'Malley, against whom there is no arrest warrant. As for the image shared in the posts, it shows American actor Cuba Gooding Jr being detained on June 13, 2019, in New York, after being accused of sexual abuse. Finally, Dallas Jones is a political analyst and worked on the Biden campaign in the state of Texas. However, there is no record that he was arrested.


Claim: Anthony Fauci 'confirmed' that face masks cause pneumonia

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Niaid), has confirmed that the use of face masks is related to the development of lung diseases, such as pneumonia.

Some of the posts attach as a "proof" a photo of a 2008 study, in which Anthony Fauci participated, on bacterial pneumonia during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919.

Truth: According to a statement by Niaid, "the 2008 study does not mention masks and had nothing to do with masks." "The study analyzed data from fatal 1918 infections and showed that the majority of cases were associated with secondary bacterial pneumonias," the institute told AFP Fact Check.