FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show ‘The Results Of Vaccine Trials’ On African Children?
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows African children with disabilities caused by vaccine trials.
The photo shows young polio survivors that had not been vaccinated against the disease.
A number of false claims related to vaccines have surfaced on social media during the coronavirus pandemic, including those incorrectly alleging that only viruses made in laboratories require vaccines and that Nigeria received a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from China in May.
This particular post claims to show “the results of Vaccine trials on Africans.” In the photo, two children are walking with the aid for crutches, while another child appears to be walking on his hands and feet. (RELATED: Has Nigeria Received Coronavirus Vaccines From China?)
But, contrary to the caption’s claim, the photo doesn’t show children negatively affected by vaccine trials. Taken by photographer Jean-Marc Giboux for the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 20 years ago, the photo shows polio survivors in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.
“I shot this picture in Sierra Leone in 1998, and they are children victims of polio, who never got vaccinated and didn’t get reconstructive surgery,” Giboux told the Daily Caller in an email. “This (sic) kids were orphans, living at the Cheshire Home for Physically Handicapped Children in Freetown, Sierra Leone. They were not victims of a vaccine, they were handicapped because they didn’t get vaccinated against polio.”
The WHO confirmed to AFP Fact Check that Giboux was on contract for the organization when he took the photo. Another picture of children wearing the same style of clothing appears on Giboux’s website under the project category “Polio.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 1.5 million childhood deaths have been prevented worldwide since 1988 thanks to polio vaccinations. Despite a global effort to eradicate polio, the disease continues to affect children and adults in parts of Asia and Africa, according to the Mayo Clinic.