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‘I’m very much alive.’ No, first volunteer in UK Covid-19 trial hasn’t died

“First volunteer in UK coronavirus vaccine trial has died,” claims a headline in a screenshot doing the rounds on Facebook in South Africa.

“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,” the text reads. It claims she died two days after the vaccine was administered.

On 23 April 2020, University of Oxford researchers began testing a Covid-19 vaccine on volunteers. About 1,110 people will take part. Half will be given the vaccine, and the other half, the control group, will get a commonly used vaccine against meningitis.

A video by the university shows Dr Elisa Granato, a post-doctoral researcher in the Oxford’s zoology department, getting one of the first two jabs administered at the start of the trial.

But claims that Granato had died soon spread on social media – and were debunked by fact-checkers and news sites across the world.

She has not died.


‘I’m having a nice Sunday’

On Twitter – her tweets are protected – Granato now gives her name as “Dr Elisa Granato - 100% alive”.

On 26 April, BBC journalist Fergus Walsh tweeted a video of Granato – a day after she had supposedly died.

“I’m very much alive, thank you,” she says. “I’m having a cup of tea, it’s Sunday, 26 April, three days after my birthday. Three days after I got the vaccine or the control – we don’t know. And I’m having a nice Sunday.” – Mary Alexander



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