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Vaccines do protect against viruses that originate in nature

April 21, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Any virus that originated from nature has its remedy and cure from nature. Only viruses made in laboratories require vaccines.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Vaccination has been used to protect against human viruses that have originated from nature for years. 

THE FACTS: Widely shared posts online are falsely stating how to treat viruses. The Facebook and Instagram posts, which have been shared thousands of times, are attempting to sow doubt around the coronavirus as researchers rush to develop a vaccine against it. 


Human viruses like measles and polio have all originated in nature and require vaccines, said Vincent Racaniello, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University. 

“To say that any virus that originated from nature has its remedy in nature, ignores the fact that all human viruses came from nature, and that we have made vaccines for many of them,” he said in an email. “I am unaware of any remedy from nature that prevents infection with any human virus.”

The vaccine for yellow fever has been around since the 1930s, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The virus, which is found in the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America, is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites from infected mosquitoes. 

“We have science and medicine to thank for the protection we have against many virus infections,” Rancaniello said.  

The posts being shared online are another example of false information circulating on social media suggesting that the cure for the coronavirus can only be found in nature. Posts online have falsely touted everything from teas to alkaline foods as a cure.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: