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No, Ghana university hasn’t developed coronavirus vaccine

Has Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology successfully created and tested a coronavirus vaccine? That’s the claim on the website News 7PM.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

An outbreak of new coronavirus strain was identified in China in late December 2019. The World Organization reported on 29 January 2020 that 6,065 cases of the strain had so far been confirmed – most in China – with 132 deaths.  

The claim of a vaccine from Ghana was published on 27 January. It’s since been shared on Facebook and other websites.

‘Successfully created and tested vaccine’

KNUST students successfully create vaccine for coronavirus; Côte d’Ivoire patient cured,” the article says.

“Students of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology have successfully created and tested a Coronavirus vaccine.”

It says the students’ work was supervised by a “Professor Dr Israel Nluki”.

‘No such discovery has occurred’

On 27 January, the same day the article appeared, Kwame Nkrumah University issued a statement that reports of the vaccine was false.

“The attention of management of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi has been drawn to the ... headline circulating on social media on Monday, 27th January, 2020,” it reads.

The statement is signed by Dr Daniel Bekoe, the university’s relations officer.

“A quick check with the dean of the faculty of pharmacy, Prof Berko Panyin Anto, on the above news reveals that no such discovery has occurred.”

“Again, we wish to state that the person alleged to have supervised the purported project (Professor Dr Israel Nluki) has no affiliations with KNUST. Management thus urges the general public to disregard such publication.”

Satire or junk news?

The footer of the News 7PM article gives a definition of the word “satire”. But the article is simply false.

It has none of the requirements of real satire. And junk news sites may attempt to excuse their clickbait content – taking advantage of a trending news topic or major tragedy – by claiming it’s satire, when it isn’t.

And the article was shared on Facebook as real news, with no disclaimer that it was an attempt at satire. – Motunrayo Joel


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