‘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


For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Fighting coronavirus misinformation

Africa Check is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers fighting misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the alliance here.

© Copyright Africa Check 2020. Read our republishing guidelines. You may reproduce this piece or content from it for the purpose of reporting and/or discussing news and current events. This is subject to: Crediting Africa Check in the byline, keeping all hyperlinks to the sources used and adding this sentence at the end of your publication: “This report was written by Africa Check, a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website", with a link back to this page.