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Fake news article falsely claims top Czech hygienist has not been vaccinated against Covid-19


Author(s): Ladka Mortkowitz, AFP Fact Check

A fake article that purports to have been published by the news website claims top Czech hygienist Pavla Svrcinova said she hadn’t been vaccinated against Covid-19. The article was shared thousands of times on social media but it’s a hoax. told AFP it never published such a story and the Czech Health Ministry confirmed that the official had been vaccinated against Covid-19. 

A screenshot of the story with the headline “Svrcinova: Shocking Confession” appeared in this December 17, 2021 Facebook post and was shared by more than 3,700 users. It features a photo of Svrcinova taken from an interview with Czech station TV Nova and a text claiming that she “confessed she hasn’t been vaccinated” because “catching the disease gives better protection”. The story also claims she said: “Had I been vaccinated, I would no longer be among the living.”

Screenshot of the social media post with the hoax article taken on January 3, 2022

But that’s not true, according to Novinky’s editor-in-chief Vladimir Dusanek. “I confirm this is a hoax. We never published such an article,” he told AFP in a January 3, 2022 email.

Svrcinova did announce on November 29 that she tested positive for the coronavirus and went into voluntary isolation. However, she did not display “moderate to difficult” symptoms as the false article claims. On the contrary, she was asymptomatic, which she confirmed in an interview with TV Nova, a screenshot of which was used in the hoax “article”. In this interview, she did not utter the quotes attributed to her in the hoax article.

Screenshot of the interview posted on TV Nova's website, taken on January 3, 2022.

Another sign that the article was faked is that uses a different font for its headlines and introductory paragraphs. For comparison, let’s take a look at a real Novinky article published when Svrcinova announced she tested positive for the coronavirus:

Screenshot of a genuine article on the website taken on January 3, 2022

It’s clear that the news site does not use a bold font for its headlines and the color of the summary paragraph is different.

As for Svrcinska, she has been an outspoken supporter of Covid-19 vaccines from the start. She said in a November interview with Czech Radio that she personally supports mandatory vaccination. She has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Health Ministry spokesman Ondrej Jakob confirmed to AFP by email on January 3, 2021.

AFP has previously debunked false reports about Czech government officials and their vaccination status, for example here or here.

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Originally published here.
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