West African fact-checking organisation, FactSpace West Africa is partnering with MPs from 11 Commonwealth countries to fight COVID-19 misinformation, myths and conspiracies.

Legislators from countries including the United Kingdom, Ghana, Nigeria, The Gambia, Kenya, Cameroon, Seychelles, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Zambia are helping in the fight against COVID-19 misinformation, promoting vaccine confidence and demand generation.

Popular myths and claims like COVID-19 vaccines have been developed to kill Africans, COVID-19 vaccines can cause infertility and reduce the life expectancy of recipients, people who take the vaccine will die in 2years, COVID-19 vaccines are poisonous, among others have been debunked by these Members of Parliament.

Here are some of the debunks from the legislators

 The Member of Parliament for Ndian Division from Cameroon, Njume Peter Ambang, said he initially fell for some of the viral claims and myths that he saw on social media before overcoming the misconceptions when he got assurances from public health authorities.

“Misinformation especially from social media, I personally wasn’t convinced that I should be vaccinated because of the information that I received from social media. But, when I realised that this information was conflicting itself, that was when I understood that it was mere social media propaganda. So that was when I started thinking that it was important for me to be vaccinated, it was important for me to be tested and to also cause my own wife and others to be vaccinated against COVID,” he stated.

The Member of Parliament for the Upper Niumi Constituency, Omar Darboe from The Gambia, also highlighted the claims he heard while encouraging people to take the COVID-19 vaccines.

Some were saying that COVID-19 is not real. The vaccines that were given by the medical doctors are also there to impotent men or barren women. So that makes it somehow difficult for the medical doctors to get everyone vaccinated because of the misconception about the vaccine and the whole COVID-19. What we have to tell the public is that COVID-19 is real. We all have to come together to fight it. That should be our ultimate aim.

The Member of Parliament for the Vauxhall Constituency, United Kingdom, Florence Eshalomi, encouraged people to take their vaccines and remain protected from a severe illness when they contract the virus.

“From one person spreading misinformation can go viral. We can see the power of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and it is important that any wrong information out there, we try and dispel it and stop it from spreading.  If you are ill, and you had to go to the hospital, the same medication they are using to treat you is a form of a vaccine. So why are you being hesitant about this vaccine?

The Member for Parliament for the Bongo Constituency in Ghana, Edward Abambire Bawa, shared his experience about the COVID-19 vaccine and cautioned that COVID-19 is real.

“I worked with an individual for six, seven years and died of COVID. There are people close to us who have gotten that. I know my own daughter got it. So, it exists. It appears the whole idea of impotency or infertility has always been around vaccines. And it is a very selling point for people who really want to disinform the public. Ordinally every man would want to be careful when the issues about potency come in. I have had these injections three times and I don’t think there has been any sign that suggests that all is not good.

FactSpace West Africa is an independent, non-partisan organisation working to tackle mis/disinformation and propaganda across West Africa. We are leading fact-checking initiatives in Ghana and The Gambia.

By: Gifty Tracy Aminu