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British PM’s booster syringe was not ‘capped’

December 6, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: The health care worker who gave a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not remove a cap on the syringe.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Video footage and images show the syringe was uncapped and the needle was injected into Johnson’s arm.

THE FACTS: Johnson received his COVID-19 booster shot at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London on Thursday.

Social media posts spreading online since then falsely claim that the cap was still on the needle, implying that it was staged.

The “the nurse hasn’t removed the cap,” purported one tweet with an image of Johnson receiving the booster. Another tweet claimed “the cap is on the needle,” adding, “They truly think we’re stupid.”

The posts include images of the syringe going into Johnson’s arm, but the actual needle making contact with the skin is obscured by the health care worker’s hand. The posts appear to suggest that a blue part on the syringe is the supposed “cap.”

But that part is actually known as the “hub,” and it connects the needle to the barrel.

The full, uncapped needle is clearly visible in press images documenting the health care worker preparing to administer the shot and in a photo from the prime minister’s office showing the needle as it was injected into Johnson’s arm.

Similarly, video footage shows the needle being injected into and removed from Johnson’s arm.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.