Doctor’s testimony falsely claims COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe and ineffective at preventing COVID-19-related deaths

Several viral social media posts are sharing statements from a World Health Organization official who testified that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe and ineffective at preventing COVID-19-related deaths and that Finland’s former COVID-19 vaccine passport requirements were unethical and unnecessary because COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent COVID-19 transmission. The testimony referenced in these posts occurred at a hearing for a Finnish citizen who claims he was denied access to a café because he did not have a vaccine passport. 

Recommendation: False claims continue to undermine the public’s perception of COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness, especially when the claims are coming from a public health official. Online conversations about this official’s testimony provide an opportunity to circulate existing content around COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness. Messaging may emphasize that COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and have been determined to be safe, and research shows COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19-related deaths. A 2023 analysis that found that higher COVID-19 vaccination coverage was associated with lower all-cause mortality rates across 178 countries. If directly debunking the false claim that COVID-19 vaccines never prevented COVID-19 transmission, explaining that vaccines reduced transmission against early COVID-19 variants is recommended. COVID-19 vaccines became less effective against transmission over time as SARS-CoV-2 continues to mutate, producing more infectious variants. Ensuring that informational materials, including websites and any FAQ materials, use prebunking messaging to explain the importance of staying up to date with vaccines as variants evolve is also recommended.