DEBUNKED

Was there really 'no needle' when Kamala Harris got vaccinated for Covid-19? Look again…

A conspiracy theory started circulating about Vice President-elect Kamala Harris after she was vaccinated against Covid-19.
A conspiracy theory started circulating about Vice President-elect Kamala Harris after she was vaccinated against Covid-19. © Screengrab / The Observers

Conspiracy theories alleging that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris faked her Covid-19 vaccination have been circulating on Facebook and Twitter in numerous languages. Adherents to this theory claim that the syringe used to vaccinate her didn’t have a needle. But it turns out that the quality of the video has been reduced, making the image blurry… and making it easier to believe this misinformation.

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“Look very, very closely”, “There’s no needle” and “Politicians are pathetic when they try to stage a scene” are just some examples of the captions that French-speakers have posted alongside a video showing Harris getting the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 on December 29. 

These conspiracy theorists offer a zoomed in image that they claim shows that there was no needle in the syringe. They also point to a slowed down version of the video, which seems to show a pink part of the syringe bending. One of these posts was shared more than 3,200 times.

Our colleagues at Italian fact-checking site Open found this same video circulating on Facebook with a caption in Italian. It had been shared 1,700 times. The video has also been uploaded to YouTube several times with captions in English. 

Why it is false

The video used in all of these posts has extremely low-quality footage, making it impossible to distinguish clearly if the syringe actually has a needle or not. 

If you search “Kamala Harris vaccination” on YouTube, then you can find the same footage in better quality, shared by American media outlets like the Los Angeles Times. Fourteen seconds into the video, when the nurse removes the cap to the syringe, you can see the needle clearly. 

Dans la vidéo sur YouTube, on distingue clairement l'aiguille dans la seringue.
Dans la vidéo sur YouTube, on distingue clairement l'aiguille dans la seringue. © Los Angeles Times / YouTube

In the better-quality footage posted on YouTube, you can clearly see the needle in the syringe.  © Los Angeles Times / YouTube

But what is that thing that looks like it is made out of pink plastic that seems to bend 19 seconds into the video? Italian media outlet Open explains that it is a security mechanism made out of plastic that helps make sure that neither the nurse or the patient accidentally injure themselves during the injection. 

Online, many people were discussing the pink cap on the syringe. 

L'embout rose visible sur la seringue a été l'objet de discussion sur les réseaux sociaux.
L'embout rose visible sur la seringue a été l'objet de discussion sur les réseaux sociaux. © Open.online

This screengrab, by the website Open.online, shows the plastic protection cap on the syringe that retracts while Kamala Harris is getting her vaccination. 

A number of political figures from across the globe have been vaccinated in public in an attempt to encourage citizens to do the same. However, a number of these videos have sparked conspiracy theories, especially when people tamper with the footage.