Fact check: An Australian vaccine trial did not give participants in the trial

A video with a university professor addressing a crowd in Speakers’ Corner, London, contains various false and misleading allegations.

Reuters fact check. REUTERS

The speaker suggests that masks cause brain damage to police officers and that COVID-19 will disappear by April, both claims being contradicted by the available evidence. She also claims that a trial of a new COVID-19 vaccine ‘made everyone positive for HIV’. However, researchers explained that it was found that antibodies generated by the vaccine lead to a false positive HIV test result, but that the follow-up tests showed that there was no HIV virus.

The speakers in the video express opinions and make several other claims, but these fall outside the scope of this check.

The Facebook video shows how prof. Dr. Dolores Cahill (people.ucd.ie/dolores.cahill) tells the crowd (here, time code 0.17): “The poor police kill their brains by wearing masks”.

There is no evidence to suggest that face masks cause a dangerous oxygen deficiency in adults. A study by U.S. researchers in July found that an average face mask does not restrict the flow of oxygen to the lungs, not even in subjects with severe lung disease (here).

According to a team of global health scientists and infection preventers at the Meedan Digital Health Lab (learaboutcovid19.org/), wearing a mask is considered safe and effective for most people: ‘Wearing masks is generally considered safe for children and adults. There are a few exceptions for very young children (under the age of two in the United States) and people with health conditions that make it difficult to wear a mask (for example, certain existing lung or heart issues, mental health conditions, developmental disabilities). For the vast majority, wearing masks is an effective way to reduce COVID-19 transmission, without causing any major side effects, as long as masks are kept clean and used correctly. ‘

Cahill also tells the crowd that COVID-19 will disappear by April. She said: ‘The simple truth is COVID-19, which is caused by a coronavirus. You cannot get sick from Coronaviruses after April. Once the 2019-2020 flu virus is over, it is gone. You are immune to it, like chickenpox. You can never get it again ”(here, time code 0.27).

The World Health Organization told Reuters that this allegation was untrue.

In an email, they write: ‘The virus that causes COVID -19, SARS CoV-2, does not show a seasonal transmission pattern. To explore this further, go to our WHO dashboard to see daily and weekly affairs in each country (covid19.who.int/).

As for immunity; Most people infected with COVID-19 develop an immune response within the first few weeks after infection. Research is still being done on how strong the protection is and how long it will last. ‘

The WHO also said that data from seroprevalence studies worldwide indicate that less than 10% of the people studied are infected, which they believe implies that ‘the vast majority of the world’s population is still susceptible to this virus. For other coronaviruses – such as colds, SARS-CoV-1 and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), immunity decreases over time, as is the case with other diseases. While people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus develop antibodies and immunity, we do not yet know how long it will take. ”

Cahill discusses the results of a COVID-19 vaccine trial (here, time code 10.32).

She said: ‘As we know, a vaccine trial has been stopped in Australia because the vaccine is all positive for HIV. It therefore had RNA for HIV or HIV proteins. But these are not false positives. This means that everyone who received this vaccine was positive about HIV. ”

This is a reference to trials of a vaccine developed by the biotechnology company CSL and The University of Queensland, which uses a fragment of an HIV virus protein as a component to stabilize the vaccine (here). Production was halted after trials showed that antibodies generated in response to the protein fragment could lead to false positives on some HIV tests (here).

CSL told Reuters in an email that the “vaccine candidate does not contain the HIV virus and that there is no possibility that it can cause HIV. Follow-up tests confirmed that a false positive reading was confirmed in all participants in phase 1 clinical trials, which showed a reactive result in certain HIV tests.


Untrue. There is no evidence to suggest that the proper use of face masks can lead to brain damage. The WHO says the majority of the world’s population is still susceptible to the virus that causes COVID-19, and there is no indication that the population will be immune by April. The reactive HIV test results recorded in some participants in the CSL and University of Queensland trials were proven to be false positive in the follow-up tests.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.