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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Our Most Popular Articles in 2022

Before we ring in 2023, we look back at the most popular articles that we posted to our website in 2022.

For the third consecutive year, COVID-19 tops our list. Nine of the 10 most popular articles were about the pandemic. And most of those were false claims about the vaccines.

Here’s the list, in order:

Social Media Swirls With Unsupported Claims About Cause of Justin and Hailey Bieber’s Medical Conditions

Pop star Justin Bieber announced he has Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a form of facial paralysis caused by a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox. Social media posts have claimed his condition was caused by COVID-19 vaccination, but there is no established link between vaccination and the syndrome. Some posts have also baselessly claimed vaccination was behind a mini-stroke suffered by Bieber’s wife, Hailey.

How Many Died as a Result of Capitol Riot?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol resulted in “almost 10 dead.” Four people died that day, and five others — all law enforcement officers — died days, weeks and even months later. We laid out what is publicly known about the circumstances surrounding those deaths. This story was published in November 2021. It was updated in March after the District of Columbia’s Police and Firefighters’ Retirement and Relief Board declared that the suicide of a Metropolitan Police Department officer nine days after the Jan. 6 riot was in the line of duty.

Vaccinated People Not More Susceptible to COVID-19 Than Unvaccinated

A reader asked if vaccinated and boosted people are more susceptible to infection or disease with the omicron variant than unvaccinated people. Our short answer: No. Getting vaccinated increases your protection against COVID-19. Sometimes, certain raw data can suggest otherwise, but that information cannot be used to determine how well a vaccine works.

Posts Baselessly Link Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome to COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine is administered in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo by Steven Cornfield on Unsplash.

Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome, or SADS, has been studied for decades and is caused by genetic heart problems. But social media posts suggested, with no evidence, that SADS is related to COVID-19 vaccines.

Website Peddles Old, Debunked Falsehood About COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines

An executive at the German pharmaceutical company Bayer referred to mRNA vaccines used against COVID-19 as an example of innovation in biotech at the World Health Summit 2021. But a website post takes the executive’s words out of context to falsely claim he said the vaccines are gene therapy.

Three Canadian Doctors Died of Long-Term Illnesses, Contrary to False Claims COVID-19 Vaccine Was Cause

It’s estimated that COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives, but false claims continue to cast doubt on their safety and efficacy. One such claim that has spread around the world falsely suggests that three Canadian doctors died from the shots. But they each died of a long-term illness unrelated to the vaccines.

FDA-Approved ‘Electronic Pill’ Isn’t Evidence That COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Microchip’ Conspiracy Is ‘Proven’

COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain microchips and have readily available ingredient lists. But social media posts use an old clip of the Pfizer CEO talking about an “electronic pill” to leave the false impression he was confirming a conspiracy theory about microchips in the vaccines.

Evidence Still Lacking to Support Ivermectin as Treatment for COVID-19

Randomized controlled trials haven’t found ivermectin is beneficial in treating COVID-19, although results for ongoing studies will provide a more definitive answer. Yet, a video presents two weak studies as “powerful” and “overwhelming” evidence that the medication works to combat COVID-19. (See our more recent story on how the results of several large, randomized controlled trials showed no benefit in using ivermectin to treat COVID-19.)

Clinical Trials Find No Increase in Mortality Among COVID-19 Patients Treated with Remdesivir, Contrary to Viral Claim

Remdesivir is the only antiviral medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19. But a retired chiropractor misleadingly claims on a viral clip on social media that the drug is “killing people.” Studies have shown that remdesivir can lead to faster recovery times for hospitalized patients.

COVID-19 Is Caused by a Virus, Not Snake Venom

The COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a novel coronavirus, first isolated in January 2020. But a viral video has been spreading a conspiracy theory that the pandemic has actually been a plot to poison people with snake venom.

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