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Fact Check: Bishop Oyedepo’s claim COVID-19 vaccines not duly tested Completely False.

Founder and presiding Bishop of the megachurch Faith Tabernacle in Ota, Ogun State, and Living Faith Church Worldwide, also known as Winners’ Chapel International Bishop David Oyedepo is reported to have advised his church members on Sunday, May 9,2021, not to take the COVID-19 vaccine at the 40th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service of the Winners Chapel International in the Ota Cathedral in Ogun State, Nigeria.

Claim: “Let me warn you against this deadly thing (vaccine) circulated round the country, because it has not been duly tested. An elder of this church, who works with the World Health Organisation confirmed this, thanking me for always speaking the truth about the authenticity of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

“What an insult! What an assault! Nobody has the right to enforce vaccination on you, and anybody cannot terminate your employment because you refuse to take the vaccine. My God will show up (for you).”

“Did I tell anyone I am sick? Don’t let anyone harass you into doing what you don’t want to do.”

“They wanted Africa dead. I heard them say it. When we didn’t die as they proposed, they brought out this vaccination scheme. You need to hear their proclamation that Africa will lack spaces to bury corpses.

“But, today, reverse is the case. Africa has the least casualty among all the other continents of the world”.

The minister of the gospel said in a sermon which was published by Nigeria based online news portal, Pulse.ng with many  news portals republishing it.

Under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting COVID-19 project by Journalists for Human Rights, Evans Aziamor-mensah fact-checked these claims for ZAMIReports and provides responses from credible health and scientific sources detailing the manufacturing of vaccines and their approval process.

Verdict: COMPLETELY FALSE.

How are vaccines manufactured?

Vaccines go through extensive trials before they can be introduced in a country. Expert doctors and scientists follow strict international standards while deciding whether to approve a vaccine.

The manufacturing process, from pre-clinical trial according to the World Health Organisation can sometimes take over a decade to complete. In the search for a COVID-19 vaccine, researchers and developers are working on several different phases in parallel, to speed up results. It is the scale of the financial and political commitments to the development of a vaccine that has allowed this accelerated development to take place, said the World Health Organisation.

COVID-19 vaccines, like any vaccine, follow a standard development protocol to test the vaccine’s effectiveness and identify any common side effects or safety concerns. This includes multiple stages of testing with tens of thousands of volunteers.

The agency explained the process as follows:

Phase 1

The vaccine is given to a small number of volunteers to assess its safety, confirm it generates an immune response, and determine the right dosage. Generally in this phase vaccines are tested in young, healthy adult volunteers.

Phase 2

The vaccine is then given to several hundred volunteers to further assess its safety and ability to generate an immune response. Participants in this phase have the same characteristics (such as age, sex) as the people for whom the vaccine is intended. There are usually multiple trials in this phase to evaluate various age groups and different formulations of the vaccine. A group that did not get the vaccine is usually included in phase as a comparator group to determine whether the changes in the vaccinated group are attributed to the vaccine, or have happened by chance.

Phase 3

The vaccine is next given to thousands of volunteers – and compared to a similar group of people who didn’t get the vaccine, but received a comparator product – to determine if the vaccine is effective against the disease it is designed to protect against and to study its safety in a much larger group of people. Most of the time phase three trials are conducted across multiple countries and multiple sites within a country to assure the findings of the vaccine performance apply to many different populations.

Oxford-AstraZeneca, which is being supplied under the COVAX initiative to poorer countries with many in Africa had 23,848 people across the UK, Brazil, and South Africa between April and November 2020, involved in its clinical trials according to a report published in the medical journal The Lancet.

Sinopharm,Moderna have all gone through the same process.

The emergency use of vaccines is not peculiar to the COVID-19 Vaccines as the World Health Organisation gave emergency approval for Wild polio vaccines in October 2019.

When are vaccines given emergency authorisation?

An emergency use authorization, which is a mechanism to facilitate the availability and use of vaccines during public health emergencies such as the current COVID-19 pandemic is allowed according to the World Health Organisation.

After a successful trial process, the Food and Drugs Authority ( FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control( CDC) in the United States of America and then certifies the vaccines for use. Same is done in the United Kingdom.

The World Health Organisation said though the process was rushed, it does not make the studies any less rigorous or the vaccine any less safe.

The Food and Drugs Authority of Ghana and Nigeria have both approved the use of the AstraZeneca vaccines for use in their respective countries.

From the evidence adduced above, the claim by Bishop David Oyedepo is Completely False.

The writer is a mentee under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting Covid-19 project by Journalist for Human Rights and a member of the fact-checking team at Fact-check Ghana.

By: Evans Aziamor-mensah|www.zamireports.com|Accra.

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