The claim: The AstraZeneca vaccine shows up on Bluetooth devices
As America’s COVID case rates fall and vaccination rates rise, misinformation about vaccine side effects persists.
One recent viral video is promoting the absurd claim that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine makes recipients Bluetooth connectable. The video, originally posted on TikTok by the account @al_janabi, has since been removed from TikTok but is still spreading on Instagram and Facebook.
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The video begins with a man sitting at a counter describing his COVID-19 vaccine side effects.
“The only problem is that everywhere I go — everywhere I go everything is starting to connect to my, man, like Bluetooth connectivity,” he says before showing the cameraman his phone with the option to connect to a Bluetooth device called “AstraZeneca_ChAdOx1-S.”
A second video, attached to the first video and showing @al_janabi’s TikTok username, shows the same man walking up to a TV and holding his hand up until a message that reads “Connecting to AstraZeneca_ChAdOx1-S….” appears on the screen.
Justin Bishop, 13, watches as registered nurse Jennifer Reyes inoculates him with a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Mount Sinai South Nassau Vaxmobile site in Freeport, New York. US health officials say that most fully vaccinated Americans can skip testing for COVID-19, even if they were exposed to someone infected. (Photo: Mary Altaffer, AP Images)
Bluetooth technology uses radio waves to communicate between nearby devices. COVID vaccines do not inject any element capable of connecting with electronics through Bluetooth.
USA TODAY reached out to several Facebook and Instagram users that shared the claim and @al_janabi for comment. None responded.
Most recent falsehood in a string of vaccine conspiracy theories
This unfounded claim is the most recent in a series of falsehoods about vaccines.
Since last summer online proponents have pushed the false conspiracy theory that COVID-19 vaccinations would be used to secretly microchip large populations.
Most recently, the internet has been consumed by false claims that magnets can detect microchips inside vaccinated individuals’ arms. USA TODAY has investigated several of these false claims and found them to be baseless.
How "conspiracy theories" are working against the goal of getting Americans vaccinated for COVID-19. (Photo: USA TODAY)
Bluetooth device names can be changed
The fact that the name appears as AstraZeneca_ChAdOx1-S on devices near the man in the video proves nothing. The names that appear on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can be easily changed on most devices.
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Both Apple and Samsung outline instructions for how to change your device names.
The result shown in the video could be easily faked by renaming any Bluetooth-enabled device “AstraZeneca_ChAdOx1-S” and bringing it in range of the phone and the TV as the camera shows them.
Man uses phone, laptop and Bluetooth earbuds. (Photo: svetikd, Getty Images)
Vaccine ingredients do not include a microchip
The U.S. has yet to authorize the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine, but it is already in use in other countries. A full list of ingredients in the AstraZeneca vaccine is available online via the United Kingdom government and the University of Oxford.
The list does not include a microchip or any ingredient that would cause the vaccine or vaccine recipient to have Bluetooth connectivity.
In this undated file photo issued by the University of Oxford, a researcher in a laboratory at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, England, works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Britain on Wednesday, Dec. 30, authorized use of a second COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country to greenlight an easy-to-handle shot that its developers hope will become the “vaccine for the world.” The Department of Health said it had accepted a recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to authorize the vaccine developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca. (Photo: John Cairns, AP)
USA TODAY also looked at the ingredient lists for the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccines. There is no evidence to support claims that any of these vaccines contain a microchip or any element that would make it detectable via Bluetooth.
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Fact-checkers from Reuters, PolitiFact and Full Fact have all rated this claim false.
Our rating: False
We rate the claim that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine makes recipients Bluetooth connectable FALSE, based on our research. The names by which devices appear via Bluetooth can easily be changed. Vaccines do not contain any elements that would enable Bluetooth connectivity. This is the latest in a string of false claims perpetuating the baseless vaccine-microchip conspiracy theory.
Our fact-check sources:
- USA TODAY, Jan. 14, Tracking COVID-19 vaccine distribution by state: How many people have been vaccinated in the US?
- Scientific American, Nov. 5, 2007, How does Bluetooth work?
- USA TODAY, June 12, 2020, Fact check: Bill Gates is not planning to microchip the world through a COVID-19 vaccine
- USA TODAY, May 12, Fact check: COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause magnetic reactions or contain tracking devices
- USA TODAY, Aug. 1, 2020, Fact check: Americans won’t have microchips implanted by end of 2020
- Apple, accessed May 26, Change the name of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod using your computer
- Samsung, accessed May 26, How do I change the name of my device?
- Associated Press, April 26, US to share AstraZeneca shots with world after safety check
- Gov.uk, April 15, Information for UK recipients on COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
- University of Oxford, Vaccine Knowledge Project, accessed May 26, COVID-19 vaccines
- USA TODAY, May 25, Fact check: Moderna vaccine does not include poisonous substances
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 21, Pfizer-BioNTech, General Information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 11, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, General Information
- Reuters, May 25, Fact Check-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a Bluetooth chip
- PolitiFact, May 21, No, video doesn’t prove AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine contains Bluetooth chip
- Full Fact, May 24, Getting a Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t mean you can connect to Bluetooth
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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
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