False: President Vladimir Putin has ordered the destruction of all COVID-19 vaccines in Russia.

By: Umme Kulsum
March 15 2023

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False: President Vladimir Putin has ordered the destruction of all COVID-19 vaccines in Russia.


The Verdict False

Russia has not ordered the destruction of COVID-19 vaccines and is, in fact, sending supplies to regions facing shortages.

Claim ID 6bbc3291


A screengrab of an article published with the headline, "Putin has ordered the destruction of all COVID-19 vaccines in Russia," has been circulating on several social media platforms since early March, 2023. The article was published by Real Raw News—a website that frequently publishes bogus stories with sensational headlines. 

The article states that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the destruction of all COVID-19 vaccines due to an unexpected increase in HIV infections among vaccinated people. However, none of these claims are true. The article intends to fuel anxiety about COVID-19 vaccines on social media.

In Fact

President Putin has made no official announcement about destroying COVID-19 vaccines. Following a shortage of the domestically developed Sputnik V vaccine in some regions, the Russian Ministry of Health announced on its Telegram channel on March 5, 2023, that it has shipped supplies of the vaccine to Moscow and other areas. The COVID-19 vaccine is still being administered, and supplies are still available in the country. 

The Real Raw News article also implies that COVID-19-vaccinated individuals are HIV-positive and that the COVID-19 vaccines contain HIV fragments. Linking COVID-19 vaccines with HIV and AIDS is a trope commonly used by conspiracy theorists even as many scientists and fact-checking organizations, including Logically, have debunked such claims. In February 2023, Dr. John Swartzberg, clinical professor of infectious diseases and vaccinology at the University of California, Berkeley, told Logically that no credible science supports the link between COVID-19 vaccines and HIV. 

Real Raw News is one of several conspiracy websites with a history of sharing false and misleading news. Logically has debunked many of its articles in the past. According to an investigation published by Poynter in September 2021, the website was set up in December 2020 by a person who goes by the fictitious name "Michael Baxter." Poynter found that "Baxter's'" real name is Michael Tuffin, and he runs at least three other websites and YouTube channels that promote conspiracy theories. 

The article in question also referred to an FSB (Federal Security Service) agent named Andrei Zakharov as the source who spoke to the website about Putin's alleged plans to destroy the COVID-19 vaccine. While Real Raw News has mentioned Zakharov as the source of its information from the Russian government for many articles, no other media house has ever quoted him in any of their reports as a Russian government spokesperson or official. Keyword searches on Google and Yandex also only show news about a journalist named Zakhraov, who worked as a BBC Russia journalist and was listed as a "foreign agent" by Russia, and one Colonel Andrei Zakharov, a top Russian army commander who Ukraine claimed to kill during an attack in March 2022.

The Verdict

There is no evidence that Putin ordered the destruction of COVID-19 vaccines. Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine batches were sent to Moscow and other parts of the country where supplies were running low. Therefore, we have marked this claim false.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.

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