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

World

Chart does not show when COVID-19 variants will be “released”

False claim: Posts on social media share a chart in Spanish that allegedly shows a “strain schedule” of the novel Coronavirus. The table includes a column named “strain/variant” and another titled “launched.” Below the columns are letters of the Greek alphabet and the months in which those alleged variants/strains would be “released” to the press.

Truth:

  • According to the chart, the delta variant of the coronavirus would be “launched” in June 2021. However, this variant was first detected in India in October 2020.
  • The table makes other similar errors, such as saying that the variant “eta” would begin circulating in September and “iota” in November, when in fact, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), variants dubbed with those names were first detected in March 2021.
  • According to health authorities, COVID-19 vaccines currently in use worldwide protect against all circulating variants, although in some cases, such as the delta variant, the effectiveness of the vaccines is reduced.

USA

Video showing Tom Brady playing catch with a throwing machine is computer-generated

False claim: The seven-time Super Bowl champion, quarterback Tom Brady posted a video on his Twitter account on June 25 in which he appears to be playing catch with a throwing machine.

In the recording, Brady appears to throw the ball with such precision that it squeezes perfectly in between the spinning wheels of the throwing machine.

Truth:

  • Created by digital artist Ari Fararooy, who describes his style as “juxtaposing reality with visual effects,” the video was computer-generated.
  • The footage was originally posted by Fararooy on his Instagram account, followed by the caption “haters will say it's fake.”
  • Also in the original post, Fararooy includes credits for a VFX person (himself) and CGI.

Brazil/Portugal

AstraZeneca has not announced that COVID-19 vaccine has failed

False claim: Posts on social media shared a screenshot of an article titled “AstraZeneca announces its COVID-19 treatment has failed” followed by the claim that the pharmaceutical company has admitted that its vaccine is not effective against the coronavirus.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

Truth:

  • First, the article shared on social media does not talk about the vaccine made by AstraZeneca, but about the experimental drug AZD7442.
  • The article makes it clear that the tests refer to an antibody treatment that the pharmaceutical company was developing in partnership with Oxford University to prevent and treat COVID-19.
  • According to AstraZeneca, the drug was 33% effective in reducing the risk of people developing COVID-19 symptoms compared with a placebo, a result that was not considered "statistically significant".
  • AstraZeneca's vaccine is considered by the WHO and several other health agencies around the world to be effective against COVID-19.
  • In a report published on July 15, 2021, the company said that recent data from Public Health England (PHE) demonstrated that two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are 92% effective against hospitalisations due to the delta variant.

World

Photo does not show the “most detailed image of human cell”

False claim: A photo has been shared thousands of times on social media followed by the claim that it shows “the most detailed human cell image obtained with x-ray radiation, nuclear magnetic resonance and [a] cryoelectron microscope.”

Truth:

  • The image shared on social media is actually an illustration of an animal cell created by Australian illustrator Russell Kightley.
  • Kightley, who has been involved in medical and scientific illustration since 1981, posted on his website that the image was created by him twenty years ago for a BioCam educational poster.
  • “It took six weeks of full-time work to create using Painter. Since then, it's appeared in lots of places, including Richard Dawkins's book, The Greatest Show on Earth,” Kightley said.
  • “It's a generalized animal (including human) cell, with no specializations and was designed as a basic biology teaching tool,” he added.

China

Cuban president did not announce resignation after anti-government protests

False claim: Following the large anti-government demonstrations that took place in Cuba on July 11, posts on Chinese social media accounts claimed that Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel announced in a televised broadcast on July 17 that he would resign from office.

True:

  • A transcript of Diaz-Canel's speech on July 17, available on the president's official website, shows that at no time did the president announce that he would resign.
  • During the rally, Díaz-Canel criticized what he called the dissemination of “false images” on social media that “glorify the outrage and destruction of property.”
  • The anti-government protests, attended by thousands of people in 40 cities across the country, including the capital Havana, happened amid one of the biggest food and medicine shortages on the Caribbean island.

World

Flying over the Kaaba is not prohibited because of “magnetic attraction”

False claim: Posts shared on Facebook claim that it is “forbidden” and “impossible” for planes to fly over the Kaaba, under the claim that the site is “a magnetic center of attraction.” Located near the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Kaaba is considered by Muslims to be the holiest place in the world and their main pilgrimage destination.

Truth:

  • The Earth does indeed have a magnetic field, but this “originates in its fluid core at its center” and “not in Mecca,” Julien Aubert, a senior researcher in geological fluid dynamics at the Institute of Physics of the Globe of Paris (IPGP), told AFP.
  • According to Aubert, “Magnetic disturbances do not prevent an airplane from flying.” “They can at most jam the compass, but planes obviously use more modern geolocation systems.”
  • According to France’s National Union of Airline Pilots (SNPL), the flight ban is justified by Saudi authorities for “ideological reasons [and] respect for the Kaaba.”
  • Despite the ban on airplanes, helicopters are often given permission to fly over the Muslim holy site and there are several aerial records of the Kaaba made in this way.