Misinformation about vaccines drives internet users to search for them "pure blood" Orange messages

AFP, published Wednesday 25 January 2023 at 07:32

An anti-vaccination opponent who refuses a transfusion for life-saving surgery for fear of contagion, an organization that brings together unvaccinated donors: Misinformation about Covid-19 has led to a so-called “pure-blood” movement.

The movement is promoting conspiracy theories that receiving transfusions from people vaccinated against Covid is “contaminating” 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 the blood of a vaccinated person to an unvaccinated person, the person receiving the transfusion will not be vaccinated.”

That doesn’t stop netizens from lobbying for the establishment of blood banks for people who haven’t received an injection, a call also received from doctors in North America.

Recently, a New Zealand couple opposed life-saving surgery for their baby because they feared it would receive blood from a vaccinated donor.

A court temporarily suspended custody of the child to allow for the trial, but the case has become iconic for anti-vaccination activists.

These cases “spread like wildfire” across the internet and “draw attention to anti-vaccination conspiracy theories,” explains Katrine Wallace.

On 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 en masse.

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

– “profitable” –

One organization based in Zurich (Switzerland), Safe Blood Donation, is even trying to match donors and unvaccinated recipients.

The association, founded by a Swiss naturopath, George Della Pietra, promises to procure blood for its clients. It is said to be present in Western Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.

“Many scientists and doctors have many concerns about Covid vaccines and also believe that they enter the body through the bloodstream, you could say indirectly, and stay there,” said Clinton, an official with Safe Blood Donation, the AFP Ohler.

A claim diametrically opposed to scientific knowledge.

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

The components of the vaccine “do not enter the bloodstream,” she adds.

According to the website, members of Safe Blood Donation must pay an entry fee of 50 euros and then an annual fee of 20 euros.

“The +safeblood+ movement is 100% based on misinformation about vaccines,” says epidemiologist Katrine Wallace. “And appealing to people’s fears is unfortunately profitable.”

– “Next Bitcoin” –

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

On social media, posts aim to find breast milk from unvaccinated people or even semen — the “next bitcoin,” conspirators predict.

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

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

Hospitals cannot share this information with patients when it comes to donating blood.