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Obama did not warn Africans against taking vaccines

April 7, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Former President Barack Obama said that he would not “allow white people to kill Africans with their toxic vaccines.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The fabricated claim grew out of a French TV segment where two doctors suggested that a tuberculosis vaccine be tested in Africa in trials to fight the coronavirus. 

THE FACTS: Two doctors were accused of racism for the comments they made on the French news channel LCI last Wednesday, with celebrities like soccer star Didier Drogba and actor John Boyega sharing their outrage on Twitter after a video with the doctors’ comments circulated online. 

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Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization’s regional director of Africa, also shared a clip of the doctors on Twitter, calling the video deeply upsetting. 

“All research including on #COVID19 in this global crisis must be ethical and based on principles,” she said. 

The French National Institute of Health and Medical Research tweeted on April 2 that the edited video had been taken out of context on social media. 

Shortly after the video emerged online, social media users began sharing posts suggesting that the former president had asked Africans not to accept vaccines from America and Europe and urged people to share the message everywhere. 

“I’ll be an accomplice if I don’t denounce this evil act white people want to do to Africans, first of all I was born in America but I’m African blood, I’m not going to allow white people to kill Africans with their toxic vaccines,” the false post reads. “I ask Africans to be smart, and to ensure that coronavirus vaccines do not enter African territories, there is a Machiavellian plan they invent saying we come to help Africans, or that they will come to kill you.”

Obama did not say this and regardless he is pro-vaccination, said Katie Hill, his spokeswoman. 

Obama has tweeted about the virus telling social media users to protect themselves by washing their hands and he has shared multiple news articles about the virus. The fabricated quote was shared hundreds of times across WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in English and French.

Some posts with the false information included a photo of Obama crying during a speech on gun violence that referenced the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 people dead, including 20 children.  

Medical experts have said it could take 12 to 18 months to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

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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: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536