This week there are messages circulating on the internet claiming that allegedly in Lviv, employees of budgetary institutions are being forced to donate blood for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It is also added that employees who refuse to donate blood are deprived of bonuses. In addition, propagandists continue to manipulate the topic of coronavirus. In particular, they claim that COVID-19 vaccines suppress the immune system and reduce the ability to resist infections in the future.
With the support of the USAID Health Reform Support project, VoxCheck analyzes and refutes public health narratives spread in the information space of Ukraine, Belarus, and russia on a weekly basis.
Disinformation: Lviv administration ordered budget employees to donate blood for the needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces
Pro-Russian media and Telegram channels are spreading information that the Lviv Regional State Administration ordered employees of budgetary institutions to donate blood for the needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Disinformers contradict themselves as they go on to write that such an order was issued by the head of the “Department of Health” of the Odesa region, Orest Chemerys. In the publications, they also include a screenshot of a comment from a woman stating that without her consent to donate blood, she will be deprived of a bonus.
Screenshot of publication
What’s the reality?
First of all, propaganda media distorted information. In the post, propagandists state that Orest Chemeris works as the head of the “Department of Health” of the Odesa region. However, Chemeris is the director of the “Department of Health” of the Lviv Regional State Administration, as indicated in the order itself.
We also found an announcement being spread by pro-Russian Telegram channels. The notification was posted by a user of a Lviv Telegram channel. However, we did not find a comment from another woman who mentioned that she will be deprived of a bonus without her consent to donate blood. Moreover, it is not possible to conclude solely based on one unverified comment that the local authorities are forcing people to donate blood for the needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Screenshot from the post spread on the network
Secondly, in the order itself, it is stated that blood donation is voluntary, not forced. Moreover, according to Ukrainian legislation, blood donation is voluntary. A person cannot be forced to donate blood, and before the procedure, the patient gives written consent. The questionnaire can be filled out online, but many blood centers do not accept such applications. Typically, the patient must fill out the consent to donate blood in the presence of a doctor.
In addition, there are special requirements for donors. For example, the donor’s body weight should be at least 50 kg. Before donating blood, the patient must undergo a medical examination. People with cardiovascular diseases, central nervous system diseases, diabetes, infectious or malignant diseases cannot be donors. Those who have had the flu or fever can donate blood only two weeks after recovery. If a person has had COVID-19, they can become a donor four weeks after full recovery.
There is no significant shortage of blood in Ukraine, so there is no need to force employees of budgetary institutions to donate blood. The Ministry of Health of Ukraine states that there is sometimes a need for rare blood groups, but there is no critical shortage. In April, the Ministry announced that thanks to donors, the daily supply of erythrocyte components of blood had increased, but there is still a shortage of donors with a negative Rh factor.
Disinformation: The COVID-19 vaccine suppresses the immune system
An excerpt from the show of American host Tucker Carlson is being shared online. In it, the host quotes a study from the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology that suggests the COVID-19 vaccine suppresses the immune system and reduces the ability to resist other infections. The host also refers to an article published by the scientific journal Lancet, “Risk of COVID-19 infection, hospitalisation, and death up to 9 months after a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine”
What’s the reality?
We found an edition from a Fox News broadcast from July 21, 2022, that has been circulating online. The host suggested that the fact that Joe Biden contracted COVID-19 even after being vaccinated casts doubt on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine.
However, the claim that vaccination against COVID-19 is unnecessary because it does not prevent further infection is a manipulation. Vaccination can prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death, but it does not guarantee that a person will not be infected again.
COVID-19 continues to spread in Ukraine, so vaccination remains relevant. The Ministry of Health of Ukraine reminds everyone that vaccination against COVID-19, including booster shots, is available to all who wish to receive it. Vaccination significantly reduces the risks of contracting COVID-19 and its complications. Addresses and contacts of COVID-19 vaccination centers can be found on the website list.covid19.gov.ua.
Carlson also cited Japanese doctor Kenji Yamamoto, who concluded based on data from the Lancet Journal that immune function in vaccinated individuals was lower eight months after receiving two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine than in unvaccinated individuals.
However, the Lancet study actually states that the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases over time, so there is a basis to add a third dose of the vaccine for those population groups at higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes.
In another study published in the Lancet journal in July 2022, researchers found that eight months after the second dose, the effectiveness of the vaccine was 75%. The article also noted that after vaccination, people had additional protection against severe illness and hospitalization.
The research published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, cited by Carlson, has been criticized by other scientists. The authors of the study claimed that the innate immune response, including type I interferon (an antiviral protein that helps limit the spread of viral infection), is supposedly suppressed because COVID-19 vaccines promote an adaptive immune response.
Adaptive immunity is the immunity that arises after contact with an antigen or pathogen, or after vaccination. Innate immunity is the system of recognition and defense against pathogens, the first line of defense in the immune response.
However, it is entirely expected that vaccination promotes adaptive immunity rather than innate immunity. Angelin Ruerz, Senior Scientist at the A*STAR Infectious Diseases Laboratory in Singapore, explains, “Vaccines provide long-lasting protection against COVID-19 without the disease that occurs from infection. Therefore, the immune response elicited by vaccination is different from that stimulated by infection”.
Ruerz also adds that the development of adaptive immunity through vaccination against COVID-19 does not mean suppression of the innate immune system, nor does it affect the ability of the immune system to resist other viruses.
The biographies of the authors of the article published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology also raise doubts about their competence and the quality of their work. For example, Stephanie Seneff claimed that glyphosate (Roundup), a herbicide used to kill weeds in fields, causes autism and has caused the pandemic. Another author, Peter McCullough, is a cardiologist who spoke out against vaccination and promoted unverified drugs for the treatment of COVID-19. The article’s author, Greg Nigh, works at a naturopathic oncology clinic. Naturopathy is a type of alternative medicine, and the methods used by naturopaths are not scientifically based.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson is not the first to spread fakes about COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, in his broadcasts, he repeated Russian narratives about alleged biolabs in Ukraine and fake news that Russia is fighting the US, not Ukraine. Carlson justified Russia’s aggression and opposed the imposition of sanctions. It is telling that the Russian media often quote the host.
This information piece was produced with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), provided on behalf of the people of the United States of America. This article’s content, which does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, is the sole responsibility of Deloitte Consulting under contract #72012118C00001.
Автори не є співробітниками, не консультують, не володіють акціями та не отримують фінансування від жодної компанії чи організації, яка б мала користь від цієї статті, а також жодним чином з ними не пов’язаний