Source: Pastor Chris Oyakhilome

Verdict: 2 False, 1 Unproven

A video clip showing the founder of LoveWorld Incorporated Church, also known as Christ Embassy, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome making several claims about the COVID-19 pandemic and reinforcing vaccine conspiracies is being widely shared on social media in Ghana.

On February 25, GhanaFact was first alerted to a 30-second-long version of the video on Twitter after it was shared by an entertainment and lifestyle blogger, Ameyaw Debrah to his 1.1 million followers with the caption: “Uncle Pastor Chris has more conspiracy theories on covid-19 and vaccine #ameyawtv.”

Using the Invid video verification tool, the original version of the video was traced to the Facebook page of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome which was a live broadcast to his 2.1 million followers on January 3.

This fact-check report verified 3 claims made by the popular Nigerian pastor from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Claim 1

Pastor Chris said: “I’m appalled that many African leaders, whether they are government leaders or business leaders or whatever, industry leaders, whatever. Those who are expecting vaccines from nowhere believing that somehow they should be given these vaccines from abroad and some of these vaccines are clearly labelled not for distribution in Europe, in fact, it says in the EU, USA or Canada.”

Fact-check

“WHO has seen no evidence of this and it is also not clear which vaccines are being referred to,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a response to GhanaFact under the Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA) Secretariat.

The WHO further clarifies that “there are a number of different vaccines being procured and authorized by African countries for national use. As of 3 March, eight African nations, including Nigeria, have received COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, which is a global initiative to ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccines”.

There are strict protections in place to help ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines. Before receiving validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies, COVID-19 vaccines must undergo rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and effectiveness.

So far two COVID-19 vaccines have received emergency use listing (EUL) by WHO – Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca. EUL assesses the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines. These are available for countries to purchase, or via the COVAX facility, which only uses EUL qualified vaccines.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are being produced by the Serum Institute of India and by SKBio in the Republic of Korea. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are being produced in Germany.

Here are some examples of labels on COVID-19 vaccine shipments having just arrived at airports in NigeriaIvory CoastGhana and Gambia.

Verdict

The claim that some COVID-19 vaccines have been labelled “not for distribution” in the United State of America, Canada and countries in the European Union is rated UNPROVEN.

 Claim 2

He said: “So much money has been borrowed by many Africa countries for the purchase of vaccines. We are talking about money they don’t really have, so they have to borrow this money. For some of them, they were forced to borrow the money, some were threatened to get this money.”

Fact-check

According to the WHO, all vaccines received through the COVAX facility agreement of purchase and supply comes at a free cost: “All 47 WHO member states in Africa are eligible to receive vaccines from COVAX. Of these, 40 lower-middle and low-income countries are eligible to have their participation supported by the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) mechanism to receive the vaccine at no cost”.

However, “these are paid for through donations through COVAX. Participation in the COVAX facility by any government is by choice and countries apply voluntarily” the WHO added.

To date, 36 African countries eligible for vaccines at no cost have completed applications to COVAX and have received notice of their indicative allocation. “This is a positive demonstration of international solidarity. It is quite the opposite of coercion,” the WHO said.

“In terms of bilateral arrangements between African governments and other countries or vaccine manufacturers, the WHO has seen no evidence.”

Verdict

The claim that African countries have been made to borrow money to purchase the vaccine is False.

 Claim 3

He said: “Sending out messages saying COVID is real is a deception. It’s like saying sickness is real. What we say to you is define it… When you say COVID-19 what type of sickness does it bring? It has a cure. It has cheap cure, and they all know it. It is not a deadly killer that has been described.”

Fact-check

“COVID-19 is real. COVID-19 has claimed over 2.5 million lives globally and 100 000 lives in Africa. COVID-19 has been recorded in 223 countries and territories. COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its response to GhanaFact.

COVID-19 was initially reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019, after it was first identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

On January 30, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization and subsequently a global pandemic on March 11, 2020.

The virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing). Individuals can also be infected from and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching their face (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth).

As of March 4, 2021, COVID-19 statistics across the world show there are more recovery cases even though a number of people have lost their lives as a result. “Almost 116 million global cases of COVID-19 with over 91.5 million people recovering from the disease.”

Is there a cure for COVID-19?

The World Health Organization has said there is currently no licensed medication to cure COVID-19.

However, on February 15, 2021, the WHO upon vigorous evaluation of vaccine candidates through the Emergency Use Listing (EUL), recommended two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in addition to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which was given the operational authorization on December 31, 2020.

Verdict

The claim that COVID-19 is deception (a hoax) is False.

Source: GhanaFact