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Purported CNN bulletin photo claiming vaccinated COVID-19 patients eat other patients in hospital is fabricated

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Claim: A photo purported to be a CNN live bulletin claims that hospitals are on lockdown as first vaccinated COVID-19 patients have started eating other patients. 

False. The photo making the claims is fabricated and has been online since at least February 2019 – before the COVID-19 pandemic and was in relation to an emergency room of a hospital that had a teenager who was shot. CNN has made no such reports of hospitals on lockdown due to COVID-19 vaccine patients eating other patients.

Full text

Following the roll out of COVID-19 vaccination by a number of countries including Ghana to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, a photo of what appears to be a surgical ward with blood spills is circulating on social media in Ghana and elsewhere with an accompanying allegation that hospitals are on lockdown as the first vaccinated COVID-19 patients have started eating other patients. This photo is purported to be from a CNN live broadcast. 

The photo shared by a Ghanaian-based Twitter user, who humorously added that by June we will start fighting zombies, is shown below:

Verification

Through a Google Reverse Search, Dubawa uncovered that the photo was originally shared by New York times on February 14th, 2019, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The actual narrative around the photo tells the tragic shooting of a teenager who later died at the emergency department of Temple University Teaching hospital after efforts to resuscitate him failed. 

The image was hence, a depiction of the emergency room the teenager died in. 

The original image as shared by the New York Times on February 14th, 2019

Though the claimant took nothing out of the photo, it was observed that there was, however, a deliberate effort to alter the image quality so it can perfectly fit into the purported narrative.  Thus, when Dubawa analysed the claimant’s version of the photo on Forensically, results show massive noise proliferation on the image. It was deliberately filtered to be blurry and cloudy so that it can  fit into the fabricated CNN frame. 

Image 1

Image 1 shows the result of analysis carried out on the claimant’s purported image.  Assessed on the noise amplitude level of 55% and the Opacity level 0.54%, findings reveal the blurry and hazy shade of noise added to the photo as rather traced in image 2 below. 

Image 2

Image 2 shows the results of analysis carried out on the original image. Also assessed on the noise amplitude level of 55% and the Opacity level 0.54%, findings reveal a level of clarity and transparency as compared to image 1. 

A closer look at image one and two reveals the obvious differences between the two pictures. Even more, other multiple images are taken out of context; and their quality altered just to be forced into another different narrative, such as in this case, to mislead unsuspecting members of the public. 

Additionally, there is no identified report online of CNN making such claims of a hospital’s lockdown because of alleged first vaccinated COVID-19 patients starting to eat other patients. Rather, what was found, was an application that facilitated such misleading content. The application, Media Photo Frames;  Breaking News App Photo Editor, allows for users of the application to fabricate any story as breaking news to be attributed to the available media frames. 

Furthermore, the claim making rounds on Ghanaian social media space was found to have also circulated on other platforms across the world in December last year. This has consequently been debunked by several fact-checking platforms such as Times of India,  India Today, and AFP already. 

Conclusion 

The photo purporting that first vaccinated COVID-19 patients have started to eat other patients is false. The photo first circulated before the pandemic and is originally from a report in February 2019 showing an emergency department of Temple University Teaching hospital’s attempts to resuscitate a shot teenager. CNN has made no such reports of hospitals on lockdown due to COVID-19 vaccine patients eating other patients .

Maxine Gloria Danso is a Senior Researcher with Dubawa Ghana. Maxine has previously worked as a Research Assistant engaging in some notable communication research projects in Ghana, having completed a Master of Philosophy programme in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, with specialisation in journalism, public relations and advertising. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and French from the University of Ghana, with a University Diploma in French Studies from Université Rennes 2 in France. Maxine contributes to the team by drawing from her knowledge and research experience in media studies.

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