No, dexamethasone not a Covid-19 vaccine, no evidence it causes infertility

“I’m warning you all: If you going to take the [n]ew ‘drug’ which is said to be R150 please be careful, and don’t fall trap onto a setup on being infertile,” reads a message posted on Facebook on 18 June 2020. 

The post includes a screenshot of what seems to be a tweet by David Icke. Icke is an English former footballer and sports commentator best known for his conspiracy theories, such as that the world is secretly controlled by an alien reptile species. 

The tweet reads: “Big Pharma whistleblower: ‘97% of corona vaccine recipients will become infertile’.” 

We found the tweet on Twitter, posted by Icke on 17 June 2020. It includes a link to a video on his personal website, but the video has been taken down.

YouTube deleted Icke’s channel in early May, soon after he was banned by Facebook.  

A YouTube spokesperson told the BBC that the channel was taken down because it violated “policies prohibiting any content that disputes the existence and transmission of Covid-19 as described by the WHO and the NHS” – World Health Organization and National Health Service

But what is the new R150 drug the Facebook user refers to? Is it a vaccine, and does it cause infertility?

Promising drug costs R150 in South Africa

On 16 June it was announced that the drug dexamethasone reduced deaths among a third of Covid-19 patients on ventilators, in a clinical trial.

It costs around R150 per injection in South Africa, where it is also manufactured. The relatively low cost of the drug was widely reported in South Africa. 

The Facebook message implies that the “vaccine” mentioned in Icke’s tweet is dexamethasone. 

The drug is a corticosteroid already used to relieve inflammation and treat certain forms of arthritis, severe allergies and asthma. 

Dexamethasone not vaccine

The findings were released in a preliminary report by the Recovery – Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy – trial in the UK. 

Recovery is a national trial to “identify treatments that may be beneficial for people hospitalised with suspected or confirmed Covid-19”.

The trial did not observe the same benefits from dexamethasone in patients who weren’t on ventilators. 

But dexamethasone is not a Covid-19 vaccine. The WHO has said that doctors should only consider the drug when treating severely and critically ill patients. 

“Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, should not be taken to prevent Covid-19 or to treat mild symptoms of Covid-19,” the WHO said

We could not find any studies suggesting that the drug causes 97% of recipients to become infertile. 

Some studies have shown that low doses of dexamethasone in combination with other treatments may help reverse male infertility and assist with ovulation in women

Currently no Covid-19 vaccine

There is currently no vaccine available for Covid-19. There are 16 candidate vaccines undergoing testing, according to the WHO. 

We could not find any reputable sources reporting that any of them have been found to cause infertility. – Naledi Mashishi


 

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.