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The photo cited in the article was doctored to include a fake date stamp.
AstraZeneca began working on its COVID-19 vaccine in 2020. It was approved for use in the United Kingdom in December 2020, and approved in the European Union in January 2021.
An article shared on Facebook by "The Hal Turner Radio Show" claims that a photo of a vaccine package from drug maker AstraZeneca proves that the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 was planned and intentional.
The Oct. 12 article claimed the photo showed the vaccine was manufactured on July 15, 2018, even though COVID-19 "wasn’t discovered until 2019."
"If COVID-19 didn't become an outbreak until late in 2019, and the outbreak wasn't even named ‘COVID-19’ until February 11, 2020, then how could AstraZeneca have been manufacturing ‘COVID-19 VACCINE’ in July of 2018?" the article questioned.
The answer, it claimed, is that the pandemic must have been planned, and "the disease itself would have to have been INTENTIONALLY RELEASED."
The article was shared in several Facebook posts, and Facebook flagged it as a part of its efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The real explanation for the discrepancy is not an insidious plot, but a photo-editing job. The image of the package was doctored to include the fake 2018 manufacturing date.
Reuters, Africa Check and Agence France-Presse have fact checked other posts that shared this photo, which was altered to add a darkly printed date on one of the box’s flaps. The original photo appeared in a Nov. 12, 2020, Facebook post that shared another false claim about the company’s vaccine. That photo shows the same package, but without the added date.
In a statement to AFP, an AstraZeneca spokesperson confirmed that the 2018 date stamp was fake and had been digitally added to the photo of the package.
AstraZeneca announced its partnership with Oxford University to develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine on April 30, 2020, and signed an agreement in June 2020 to create the packaging. The vaccine was first approved for emergency use in the United Kingdom on Dec. 30, 2020, and approved for use in Europe on Jan. 29, 2021.
PolitiFact reached out to the "Hal Turner Radio Show" for comment, but did not get a response.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
Hal Turner Radio Show, How Did Astra-Zeneca Manufacture "COVID-19 Vaccine" in July of 2018 Before the Disease Was Even Discovered or Named? Oct. 12, 2021
Facebook post, Oct. 14, 2021
World Health Organization, Timeline of WHO’s COVID-19 response, accessed Oct. 20, 2021
Reuters, Fact Check-The Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was not created in 2018, July 29, 2021
Africa Check, No, AstraZeneca vaccine not made year before Covid-19 emerged, July 30, 2021
Agence France Presse, Image of packaging for AstraZeneca vaccine was digitally altered with false date, Aug. 3, 2021
Facebook post, Nov. 12, 2020
AstraZeneca, AstraZeneca and Oxford University announce landmark agreement for COVID-19 vaccine, Apr. 30, 2020
Email interview with AstraZeneca U.S. Media Team, Oct. 20, 2021
Catalent, Catalent Signs Agreement with AstraZeneca to Manufacture COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate, June 15, 2020
National Institutes of Health, Phase 3 Clinical Testing in the US of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Begins, Aug. 31, 2020
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