Calls to avoid PCR tests and COVID-19 vaccines go viral

Multiple popular social media accounts are calling for people to avoid COVID-19 PCR tests, allegedly because the U.S. government plans to manipulate the positive test numbers to encourage COVID-19 vaccination. Conspiracy theorists warn of upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandates from the federal government and refer to the vaccines as “biological weapons.” Spanish language posts circulating this claim include a false statement that PCR tests were not intended to be used to diagnose respiratory virus infections.

Risk level: Medium

Recommendation: Vaccine opponents are using the alleged threat of COVID-19 mandates and lockdowns to amplify their false claims about vaccines and PCR tests. Messaging may emphasize that the current rise in COVID-19 case numbers is not attributable simply to increased testing, but rather to an actual increase in infections. If patients raise concerns about PCR tests, messaging may emphasize that both PCR and at-home COVID-19 tests continue to identify infections.