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Microbiologist Elisa Granato was the first human to be injected for the human trial phase of a potential vaccine of COVID-19 by a group of scientists at the University of Oxford, UK, on April 23.
Following this news reports have been circulating online claiming that Dr Granato has died shortly after being injected with the vaccine.
"Elisa Granato, the first volunteer who availed herself in Oxford for a jab in the first Europe human trial of a vaccine to protect against the coronavirus pandemic has died. She died two days after the vaccine was administered, authorities have said and added that an investigation into the cause of the death has been initiated," reads one such report published on News NT.
Another report was published with the same claim on a website called "The Nigerian News".
The viral claim was also been circulated on social media platforms.
First volunteer in UK coronavirus vaccine trial has died https://t.co/oxzdELbund— Simon Jaysek (@SimonJaysek) April 26, 2020
The first participant in a UK COVID-19 vaccine trial has died.
The claim is false.
Dr Granato is alive and well. The reports are fake.
BBC's medical correspondent Fergus Walsh, who had earlier covered the vaccine trial has debunked the fake news through a series of tweets on the micro-blogging site.
"Fake news has been circulating on social media that the first volunteer in the Oxford vaccine trial has died. This is not true! I spent several minutes this morning chatting with Elisa Granato via Skype. She is very much alive and told me she is feeling 'absolutely fine'," Walsh wrote.
He later posted a video of Dr Granato saying that she was "very much alive" and "having a cup of tea".
Fake news has been circulating on social media that the first volunteer in the Oxford vaccine trial has died. This is not true! I spent several minutes this morning chatting with Elisa Granato via Skype. She is very much alive and told me she is feeling "absolutely fine" pic.twitter.com/iWAtYaSkRZ— Fergus Walsh (@BBCFergusWalsh) April 26, 2020
....and here is Dr Elisa Granato in person. Alive and well pic.twitter.com/Csw1WqmBQa— Fergus Walsh (@BBCFergusWalsh) April 26, 2020
The head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Prof Andrew Pollard, who is leading the trial said "this sort of fake news could damage our ability to tackle a pandemic. We can't let that happen."— Fergus Walsh (@BBCFergusWalsh) April 26, 2020
On April 26, Dr Granato took to Twitter to announce that she is fine. She also appealed people to not share the fake report.
She has since protected her Twitter account.
Further, the official account of the Department of Health and Social Care, UK has called the news "completely untrue".
News circulating on social media that the first volunteer in a UK #coronavirus vaccine trial has died is completely untrue.— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) April 26, 2020
Before sharing unsubstantiated claims online, use the SHARE checklist to help stop the spread of harmful content:
▶️ https://t.co/9rAFQES8Xm pic.twitter.com/HgG4cHnLFQ
The Oxford University issued a statement on their website, in which they acknowledged the fake news and clarified that all official updates regarding the trial will be published on the website.
"We are aware there have been and will be rumours and false reports about the progress of the trial. We urge people not to give these any credibility and not to circulate them. We will not be offering a running commentary about the trial but all official updates will appear on this site," reads the statement.
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