Romania’s stocks of anti-coronavirus vaccines are expired, whereas the fires reported in Romanian hospitals in the last year have been stage-directed. These false narratives have been circulating for some time, and were recently promoted by the bishop of Giurgiu.
NEWS: “His Grace, Bishop of Giurgiu, lashed out at the political class, including president Klaus Iohannis, in his sermon held at the end of a special service celebrating Saint Paraskeva […] You are young, you will live and see what happens to those who have mocked Romanians. It’s only a matter of time, you know? You should pray to God to give you the strength to keep carrying your cross. Stay in Church, don’t believe a word you hear on TV, don’t be afraid of COVID, don’t hurry to get vaccinated, let them get vaccinated first, starting with all the MPs, all the senators and deputies, and then, if there’s any vaccine left from the 120 million bought by Câțu, only then should you get vaccinated, because they are all expired and they are trying to sell them abroad […] They are mocking Romanians! May God strike down these enemies, and let the children of this Church rise and become mayors, prefects, and help this country and its people, build schools… You see, they are burning Romanians in hospitals! How is that possible? It happened in Bucharest, then in Iași, in Constanța, they are burned alive in hospitals! Of course this is a lie! It’s unacceptable to live in the third millenium and still not have smoke detectors and night guards! People are burning in hospitals with cannulas in their arms and tied to their beds! That’s the extent to which they’made a laughing stock of this country and us!”, Ziuanews.ro writes.
NARRATIVES: 1. The anti-COVID-19 vaccines bought by Romania are expired. 2. The fires reported in the last year in hospitals across Romania have been staged-directed.
BACKGROUND: Soon after the coronavirus pandemic broke out, a genuine global campaign of fake news and disinformation followed, targeting the origins of the virus, its nature, the gravity of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, the efficiency and usefulness of anti-pandemic measures, vaccines, etc. Most of the narratives are spread by Russia and China, or the so-called alt-right movement.
The fake news phenomenon has built momentum over the years, and continued to do so even when the number of COVID-19 infections rose dramatically, and the situation in hospitals turned very serious. The narratives were either picked up from abroad, or were formulated in Romania, spread by adepts of right-wing factions, nationalists, men of the cloth, conspiracy-mongers, etc. via social media, sensationalist media, but also directly, through public speeches, sermons in Church, public stands, public opposition by refusing to wear masks in areas where they are mandatory, etc.
One relevant example is that of a viral video, debunked by Libertatea, claiming that a modular hospital in Piatra Neamț is actually empty. The newspaper published photos confirming that all the 26 beds treating COVID patients are full.
PURPOSE: To stir chaos and mistrust among citizens against the backdrop of an alarming surge in the number of COVID-19 infections and related fatalities in Romania.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: Nearly a month ago, Romania had a stock of 3.7 million doses of vacccine, after receiving a total of 18.5 million doses. Additionally, Romania managed to sell or donate some five million jabs.
The vaccines administered to patients are not expired. According to official figures released to date, an average of 60,000 people get vaccinated in centres across Romania.
On the other hand, the fires in Romania were very real due to old infrastructure and the shortage of equipment needed to treat such a large volume of patients, as well as poor management and human error.
Reporters with a number of publications broadcast live and recorded footage of the extent of these disasters.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: The political crisis in Romania has overlapped with a resurge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO STANDS TO BENEFIT: Russia and conservative religious media militating to create chaos in Romania and mistrust in state institutions and trying to hamper the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, thus prolonging the health crisis.