No, Barack Obama Never Asked Africans to Reject Vaccines!

Obama warns Africans against vaccines from America and Europe – Instagram user

Mr Obama’s office says the former president has not made any statements on coronavirus vaccines. Also, there is no factual evidence of former US President Obama cautioning Africans to resist the testing of vaccines. Aside from viral social media messages, no reputable media outlet, both international and national, have reported the claim. 

Full text:

COVID-19, like other pandemics, has fueled a number of conspiracy theories concerning its cause, treatment and a lot more. One of such theories is a message going viral on WhatsApp linked to an Instagram post that states that former US president, Barack Obama, is ‘asking Africans not to accept the vaccines that will come from America and Europe’. The post, which has a photo of Obama in tears, continues with an alleged warning from Obama which reads: 

“I’ll be an accomplice if I don’t denounce this evil act white people want to do to Africans, first of all I was born in America but I’m African blood, I’m not going to allow white people to kill Africans with their toxic vaccines, I ask Africans to be smart, and to ensure that coronavirus vaccines do not enter African territories, there is a Machiavellian plan they invent, saying we come to help Africans, or that they will come to kill you, I will let the message be shared everywhere, to awaken African minds so that the vaccines do not arrive in Africa” 


Dubawa followed the WhatsApp link to Instagram. Instagram showed that the post was made three days ago, but has been edited 12 hours ago (as at 9.05pm GMT on 3 April 2020) with a new caption in French that reads “Moi Joel Wembo je serai comme @barackobama, je le crois’ which translates as “I, Joel Wembo, I will be like Barack Obama, I believe it’’. 

However, all 1,783 user comments generated by the post are reactions to the initial caption and message circulating on WhatsApp. Although some of the comments reacted with belief in the claim, most dismissed it as fake news, while others indicated that the claim cannot be found anywhere on the Internet.

The coronavirus vaccine debates…

Dubawa further traced the widespread public discourse on the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, which has incited a lot of dissatisfaction and resistance from some Internet users. We found that the discourse originated from a recent suggestion of the testing of a potential COVID-19 vaccine (BCG tuberculosis vaccine) in Africa to prove its efficacy, by two French doctors.

The video shows the two doctors Jean-Paul Mira, Head of Resuscitation Department at Cochin Hospital and Camille Locht, Head of Research at Inserm Health Research Group (IHRG), in a debate on TV Channel LCI. In the video, Africa was suggested to parallel the studies to be conducted in other countries, since Africans were highly exposed to the virus under the circumstances with ‘no masks, no treatments and no resuscitations’ to protect themselves from the virus. 

According to a BBC publication on 3 April 2020, IHRG has clarified in a statement that the suggestion of testing the vaccine in Africa has been misinterpreted, given that already, clinical trials for the efficacy of the BCG vaccine is about to be launched in Europe and Australia. This is corroborated by information on the IHRG website which indicates that researchers have already launched clinical trials in the Netherlands and Australia.

IHRG, however, added that Africa must be part of the research regarding the coronavirus “because the pandemic is global.”

Did Obama caution Africans against vaccines?

Mr Obama’s office said the statement is not from the former president. 

“President Obama did not say this – and hasn’t made any statements about coronavirus vaccines. There isn’t a coronavirus vaccine yet, of course, and regardless, he is pro-vaccination,” said Ms Katie Hill from Mr Obama’s office.

Additionally, considering the newsworthiness of the claim, one would expect that international media would carry the story had Mr Obama waded into the discussion on vaccines. However, no international mainstream news portals, including the CNN and the BBC, have. Ghanaian mainstream media have also not mentioned anything on the claim attributed to Obama. 

To further verify, Dubawa searched Mr Obama’s verified social media handles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and found no remarks from the former US President on vaccines. His last posts on Facebook and Twitter on 1 April 2020 were to implore Americans to fill out forms on Census Day. His last post on Instagram, on 28 March 2020, was a tribute to the late Reverend Joseph Lowery.  

Dubawa has therefore determined that there is no factual evidence that former President Obama ever counselled Africans to resist purported testing of vaccines from Europe and America, as reported in an Instagram Post.


There is no factual evidence that Mr Obama ever cautioned Africans to resist being used for testing any vaccines. The viral post attributed to the former American president is false.

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