We’re tracking the top myths about COVID-19 — and the more than 415 websites spreading them.
As COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the globe, so does disinformation and misinformation about the disease. From false cures to conspiracy theories about the virus’ origin to misinformation about the vaccine, myths about COVID-19 can have dangerous and real-world consequences.
Follow the spread of this dangerous information with NewsGuard’s Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center.
On this page, NewsGuard’s team of journalists is tracking the top myths about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine and cataloguing the number of websites spreading those myths.
As of our latest update, NewsGuard so far has identified 415 websites publishing misinformation about COVID-19 in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Italy. Researchers, platforms, advertertisers, governmental bodies, and health institutions interested in licensing the list can contact us for licensing information.
Websites on the list include publishers notorious for publishing false health content, political sites whose embrace of conspiracy theories extends well beyond politics, and new sites that were created specifically to spread misinformation about COVID-19.
Among the myths published by the websites are false claims that drinking bleach or colloidal silver will cure the virus, false claims that the COVID-19 vaccine will change patient’s DNA or implant a tracking microchip, and false claims that methods like masks and social distancing are ineffective in slowing the spread of the virus.
The COVID-19 Misinformation Tracking Center is a work in progress about a story that has new developments daily. If you have come across a false story about COVID-19, please report it here or contact us via our misinformation hotline.
For more information about NewsGuard’s approach to tracking coronavirus misinformation, read this piece on the topic from our lead health analyst, listen to this story on NPR, or watch this segment with the BBC. For reliable information on the COVID-19 virus, consult the websites of public health institutions such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
Websites Identified Publishing False Coronavirus Information: 415
- United States: 262
- United Kingdom: 15
- France: 51
- Germany: 34
- Italy: 39
- Other: 14
Top COVID-19 Vaccine Myths
Scientists and researchers managed to produce vaccines to protect against COVID-19. Vaccine candidates have recently been approved in some countries and are in the approval process in others, yet misinformation about the safety and effects of any future vaccine is already threatening its rollout. On our Top COVID-19 Vaccine Myths tracker, we catalogue the top myths about a COVID-19 vaccine that have appeared in NewsGuard’s ratings of more than 6,000 news and information sites worldwide.
- MYTH: The mRNA vaccines being developed for COVID-19 will alter human DNA.
- MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines are not being tested against a placebo in clinical trials.
- MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine will use microchip surveillance technology created by Bill Gates-funded research.
- MYTH: Dr. Anthony Fauci will personally profit from a COVID-19 vaccine.
- MYTH: A new law in Colorado will force parents into a government-run re-education program if they refuse to give their children a COVID-19 vaccine.
- MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to cause infertility in 97 percent of its recipients.
- MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines will contain aborted human fetal tissue.
- MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca will turn people into monkeys.
- MYTH: Government food stamps will be denied to those who refuse COVID-19 vaccines.
- MYTH: The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will use artificial intelligence to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines because the agency knows that vaccines are extremely dangerous.
- MYTH: A document on the FDA website shows that two participants died as a result of “serious adverse events” from an experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
- MYTH: The virus mutates so fast that a vaccine will never work.
- MYTH: The head of research at Pfizer said the company’s COVID-19 vaccine contains a protein called syncytin-1 that will result in female sterilization.
- MYTH: COVID-19 vaccine injections, shown during press events being delivered to health care workers, are fabricated, using syringes with “disappearing needles.”
- MYTH: A nurse in Alabama died hours after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
- MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccines violate the Nuremberg Code, which bans medical experiments from being performed on humans without their consent.
- MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccines will cause “pathogenic priming” or “disease enhancement,” meaning that vaccinated individuals will be more likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19 if they are infected with the COVID-19 virus.
- MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine can cause people to develop COVID-19.
- MYTH: The mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 do not fit the CDC and FDA’s definitions of a vaccine, which state that vaccines have to both stimulate immunity and disrupt transmission of a virus.
- MYTH: Hank Aaron’s death is linked to the COVID-19 vaccine.
- MYTH: A Tennessee nurse named Tiffany Dover died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on live TV.
COVID-19 Myths: False Cures, Conspiracy Theories, and More
During the initial spread of COVID-19, a number of myths spread pushing conspiracy theories about the virus’ origins and false “cures” and treatments for the virus.
This list of top COVID-19 myths covers the most prominent of those theories and how they initially emerged.
- MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus was stolen out of a Canadian lab by Chinese spies.”
- MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus contains ‘HIV-like insertions,’ suggesting it was engineered.”
- MYTH: “The COVID-19 pandemic was predicted in a simulation.”
- MYTH: “A group funded by Bill Gates patented the COVID-19 virus.”
- MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus is a manmade bioweapon.”
- MYTH: “5G cell phone technology is linked to the coronavirus outbreak.”
- MYTH: “Colloidal silver can cure COVID-19.”
- MYTH: “Miracle Mineral Solution can cure COVID-19.”
- MYTH: “Garlic can cure COVID-19.”
- MYTH: “High doses of vitamin C have been proven to be an effective treatment for COVID-19.”
- MYTH: “Lemon and hot water can cure COVID-19.”
- MYTH: “The Italian Government is preventing migrants from being tested for COVID-19.”
- MYTH: “Bill Gates plans to use COVID-19 to implement a mandatory vaccine program with microchips to surveil people.”
- MYTH: “Getting a flu shot increases your risk of getting COVID-19.”
- MYTH: “Wearing a face mask can cause hypercapnia, a condition of too much carbon dioxide”
- MYTH: “Wearing a face mask will push the COVID-19 virus into your brain”
- MYTH: “George Soros owns a lab in Wuhan where the coronavirus was created”
- MYTH: “The French Pasteur Institute patented the virus”
- MYTH: “The French government authorized euthanasia in the middle of the crisis”
- MYTH: In Europe, “Contact tracing apps were automatically installed on people’s smartphones without their consent”
- MYTH: “The COVID-19 virus was engineered in a laboratory at the University of North Carolina”
- MYTH: “Dr. Anthony Fauci will personally profit from a COVID-19 vaccine”
Last updated March 4, 2021