Vaccine misinformation prompts netizens to search for ‘pure blood’

published on Wednesday 25 January 2023 at 07:32

An anti-vaccine couple refusing a transfusion for life-saving surgery for fear of contamination, an organization collecting unvaccinated donors: Misinformation about Covid-19 has given rise to a so-called “pure blood” movement.

The movement spreads conspiracy theories that receiving transfusions from people vaccinated against Covid “contaminates” the blood.

However, these theories are not based on “any scientific evidence”, Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told AFP.

“If you donate blood from a vaccinated person to someone who is not, the person receiving the transfusion will not be vaccinated.”

This does not prevent Internet users from advocating for the creation of blood banks dedicated to people who have not received an injection, a request also received by doctors in North America.

Recently, a New Zealand couple objected to a life-saving operation for their baby out of fear that he would receive blood from a vaccinated donor.

A court temporarily stripped them of custody of the child to allow the case, but the case has become iconic for anti-vaccine activists.

These cases “spread like wildfire” on the Internet and “draw attention to anti-vaccine conspiracy theories,” explains Katrine Wallace.

In private social media groups, “pure blood” advocates are calling for violence against vaccinating health workers – while falsely claiming that those who are immune are dying in droves.

Photos published on one of these groups, for example, show a nurse holding a syringe in the middle of a field strewn with skulls, noted an AFP journalist who infiltrated it.

– “Profitable” –

An organization based in Zurich (Switzerland), Safe Blood Donation, even seeks to connect donors and unvaccinated recipients.

The association, founded by a Swiss naturopath, George Della Pietra, promises on its website to provide blood for its clients. It says it is present in Western Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.

“Many researchers and doctors have many concerns about Covid vaccines and are also convinced that they enter the body through the bloodstream, in a roundabout way, one might say, and stay there”, assures AFP, an official of Safe Blood Donation, Clinton Ohlers.

A confirmation diametrically opposed to scientific knowledge.

“Blood donations from people vaccinated against Covid-19 are safe for transfusion,” said Jessa Merrill of the American Red Cross.

The vaccine’s components “do not end up in the bloodstream,” she adds.

Members of Safe Blood Donation must pay an entry fee of 50 euros, then an annual subscription of 20 euros, according to its website.

“The + safe blood + movement is 100% based on misinformation about vaccines”, assesses epidemiologist Katrine Wallace. “And it’s unfortunately profitable to appeal to people’s fears.”

– “Next Bitcoin” –

The search for so-called “purity” is not limited to blood.

On social media, posts aim to find breast milk from unvaccinated people, or even sperm – the “next Bitcoin”, conspirators predict.

It is difficult to estimate the number of people seeking “unvaccinated” blood, but experts say it would be a challenge anyway in countries with high vaccination rates.

In the United States, where more than 80% of the population has received at least one dose, health officials explain that they do not ask donors to have their vaccination status tested.

Hospitals cannot communicate this information to patients when it comes to blood donation.

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