Fact check: Video of fainting doctor in China predates COVID-19 vaccine

The claim: Video shows Australian surgeon having a stroke after three COVID-19 vaccine doses

A video shared on Twitter shows a person dressed in scrubs and a surgical mask collapsing in what appears to be an operating room.

“Triple jabbed Australian surgeon stroking out mid-surgery,” reads the March 20 tweet’s caption (direct link, archive link) from far-right conspiracy theorist Stew Peters. “Again, this is apocalyptic.”.

A link to the tweet was shared on Facebook more than 100 times in two days, according to Crowdtange, a social media analytics tool.

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Our rating: False

The video predates the COVID-19 vaccine and was filmed in China, not Australia.

Video predates COVID-19 vaccine

The video of the doctor fainting was reported on by a Chinese media outlet in January 2020, well before Chinese officials approved a COVID-19 vaccine for the public in December 2020. A translated version of the January 2020 article says the doctor fainted due to hypoglycemia and fatigue.

While experimental doses were available for military personnel and employees of vaccine manufacturer SinoPharm in China in the summer of that year, that’s still well after the video was captured. So there’s no reason to believe the doctor in the video would have had access to three doses of the vaccine by January 2020.

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A version of the video also circulated on Facebook in 2022. In that case, users wrongly claimed it showed a surgeon dying after being forced to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fact check: Videos of people collapsing have no connection to COVID-19 vaccines.

USA TODAY has debunked other inaccurate claims promoted by Peters, including the false claims that the COVID-19 vaccine is made from snake venom and that the war in Ukraine is fabricated.

Peters did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The claim was also debunked by Associated Press.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Bejing News, Jan. 17, 2020, A doctor in Zhenxiong, Yunnan, fainted during the operation and is no longer seriously ill (Google translate).
  • Reuters, Dec. 30, 2020, China gives its first COVID-19 vaccine approval to Sinopharm.
  • CNN, June 30, 2020, Beijing approves experimental Covid-19 vaccine for use in Chinese military.
  • Associated Press, July 15, 2020, Chinese executives get ‘pre-test’ injections in vaccine race.
  • Associated Press, March 21, Video shows doctor collapsing in early 2020, not COVID vaccine effect.
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    Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.