COVID-19 Vaccine: Religious Perspectives and its impact on Vaccine Hesitancy By: Sekyen Dadik

In a video premiered on YouTube through Apokalupsis Channel on 12 July, 2020, titled ‘The Mystery of Corona’, Reverend Chris Okotie said taking the COVID-19 vaccine means going into an agreement with Satan and the vaccine will make the recipient become a vampire.

Christopher Oghenebrorie Okotie is a Nigerian televangelist and the pastor of the Household of God Church International Ministries, a Pentecostal congregation in Lagos since February 1987.
The full video, which had 374, 322 views as at 2 June 2021, had transcripts and videos shared on different mediums, it read in part:
“The vaccine on the other hand, brings the liquid to you, just like the blood, and it is injected into you. So, it is received into you, because, when you drink the wine, it goes into your system, so that when you consume the GMO’s, and you receive the vaccine, you bring the body and blood together; so to speak, just as it is in communion; the body of Jesus Christ and His blood. That’s what replicates that pattern.
“So, what Bill Gates is doing under the auspices of the United Nations, is to make sure that you receive the food …
So, when you eat the genetically modified organisms…., and you take the vaccine, you’ve entered into communion with Satan, with Lucifer, and that communion involves blood…….and the only place that you can find blood, is another human being. So, one of the things that the vaccine will make you do, is to become a ‘vampire’, who needs to drink blood for sustenance”.
“…. because the drugs inside this vaccine, will make you a zombie; you are a walking cadaver, you’re neither dead nor alive, so, you can be controlled by the power of Satan … Zombified, so he can control you”
A fact checked report by Niyi Oyedeji on  FactCheckHub shows the claim by Okotie is false.
Niyi quoted the World Health Organization (WHO), thus: “vaccines train and prepare the body’s natural defence, otherwise known as the immune system, to recognise and fight any targeted virus or bacteria, vaccines are a critical new tool in the battle against COVID-19 and it is hugely encouraging to see so many vaccines proving successful and going into development.”
Though side effects such as fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, diarrhoea, and pain at the injection site have been recorded according to WHO, becoming a vampire is not one of them, he noted.

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Findings
An open source intelligence search to unravel the flow of misinformation network on COVID-19 online using Hoaxy; an application that visualizes the spread of information on Twitter, revealed a tweet by EyesOnQ  titled: We Don’t Need No Stinking Vaccine For COVID-19. Though the account has been suspended, it has over one thousand retweets as at June 2, 2021. The search also revealed that the article referred to in the tweet was published on Zero Hedge website on Friday, Jun 12, 2020 and had the by-line of Tyler Durden but Authored by Jeff Harris via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.
A further search on the by-line and website through Wikipedia revealed Zero Hedge in-house content is posted under the pseudonym “Tyler Durden” for Daniel Ivandjiiski; the founder and main editor and it is associated with conspiracy theories  and fringe belief.

A Screenshot showing spread of COVID-19 information from Hoaxy
Impact
Nigeria is a religious country with devout followers having a tendency to adhere to teachings and positions of religious leaders. Historically, vaccine hesitancy as a result of religious stands was experienced during the Polio campaign vaccines, as many clerics especially in northern Nigeria influenced their followers from administering Polio Immunization to their children.
Comments that followed Okotie’s Video show that a number of people are making decisions based on his position. One of the comments by Parenting Unusual with 43 likes reads: “This depth of revelation is explosive to the deliverance of mankind. Thank you immensely pastor for speaking out. Let’s be spiritually sensitive”.
Another by: Amaechi Obinna reads “This is a serious revaluation of COVID -19 from Pastor Chris Okotie. Thanks for this information with Biblical information and statistics”.

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Conclusion
Corona Virus is real and being vaccinated remains one of the ways of curbing the pandemic. Though there are side effects in some recipients, taking the vaccine does not make the recipient a Vampire or a Zombie.
WHO has assured the public that it is working tirelessly with partners to develop, manufacture and deploy safe and effective vaccines.
In tackling Vaccine Hesitancy, it must be noted that: “Safe and effective vaccines are a game-changing tool but it’s not vaccines that will stop the pandemic, it’s vaccination” WHO.

This publication was produced as part of IWPR’s Africa Resilience Network (ARN) programme, administered in partnership with the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR), the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), and Africa Uncensored. For more information on ARN, please visit the ARN site.

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