A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Facebook Users Wrongly Tie Dog Vaccine to Novel Coronavirus


Quick Take

A viral image on Facebook falsely suggests a vaccine exists for the novel coronavirus by referencing a photo of a vaccine for a coronavirus that infects dogs. The two viruses are not the same.


Full Story 

Facebook users are spreading a photo of a vaccine for canine coronavirus to wrongly suggest that a vaccine exists for the novel coronavirus now infecting humans around the world.

“Now this was 2001 tell me why 19 years later they say there is no vaccine,” text in the viral image reads.

The image was shared in various corners of Facebook, including in a group dedicated to the QAnon conspiracy theory. One user’s popular post claimed that a “CORONA VIRUS VACCINE EXIST SINCE 2001″ and “WE ARE BEING PLAYED BY THOSE ON THE TOP.”

But the vaccine label in the photo clearly states “Canine Coronavirus Vaccine.”

Like other instances of misinformation that have appeared since the outbreak began, the posts advance a false claim that centers on the term “coronavirus.” The term refers to a family of viruses, but they’re not all the same.

The novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2 — which causes COVID-19 — was first reported in China in late 2019.

The product in the viral photo is Nobivac 1-Cv, a vaccine sold by a subsidiary of Merck & Co. It protects dogs from the canine coronavirus, or CCV, a virus that typically causes a mild gastroenteritis, or inflammation in the intestines, in infected dogs. It was first identified in 1971.

As we wrote when debunking similar posts dealing with a vaccine for cows, experts say it is not safe for humans to attempt to vaccinate themselves with animal vaccines.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Fenner’s Veterinary Virology (Fifth Edition). “Chapter 24  Coronaviridae.” Academic Press. 2017.

Nobivac Canine 1-Cv.” Merck Animal Health. Accessed 22 Apr 2020.

Q&A on the Coronavirus Pandemic.” FactCheck.org. 18 Mar 2020.