Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out at the end of last year multiple pharmaceutical companies have been trying to find a cure. Luckily, two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, announced that they have created a COVID-19 vaccine with a high success rate, ranging from 90 to 94.5%. These announcements have sparked hope since they signify the possible end of the pandemic. However, users on TikTok have been posting videos spreading conspiracy theories, using religious explanations to claim that the vaccines are a microchip intended to be placed in people. Users of the app have gone on to declare the vaccines as “the mark of the beast” — a story that originates from the Bible. These claims, however, hold no scientific basis and are not rooted in fact. Rather the vaccines are assistance to the perilous situation the world is facing, and conspiracy theories only help spread misinformation.
On TikTok, conspiracy theories have spread claiming the vaccine is actually a microchip the government wants to install in the population. One popular video made by a user of the app acts out what she believes the vaccine is. In the clip, she claims the vaccine is a microchip, and the refusal of it leads to people being killed. In the caption, the user writes, “You’re required to take the mark of the beast (vaccine) or you die, but you know what God’s word says so you deny it.”
The creator of the TikTok video is referencing a story in the Book of Revelation about a mark placed on people who serve and worship a creature called “the beast,” enslaving them to him. In modern times, many people of the Christian faith fear technology, specifically microchips, and the government, which they characterize as evil entities.
Refusing vaccines is not uncommon; in fact, the anti-vaccine movement started at the same time that vaccines originated. People found vaccines barbaric because they did not like the way Edward Jenner, the creator of the smallpox vaccine, exposed his family to pathogens of sick cows to prevent them from smallpox. Nowadays, people reject vaccines out of fear — claiming that vaccines cause autism — or due to religious beliefs. Yet, the rejection of this vaccine is due to made-up notions, which is ridiculous — even more so considering how this vaccine is necessary to save human lives.
To think the COVID-19 vaccine is evil due to conspiracy theories is not logical. Small websites dedicate themselves to creating these theories, explaining their beliefs with explanations like: “[There is] a bill currently before the House of Representatives (6666) and the very letters ‘C-O-R-O-N-A’.” This type of reasoning is not substantial. It does not make sense to link minuscule details, like the number of letters in a word, to phrases in the Bible and then claim there is an evil plot occurring.
While a majority of the public is not seeing these conspiracy theories on these websites, the conspiracies are being shared on TikTok where many people learn about them. This mass sharing of false beliefs is frightening, and it could potentially cause members of the public to refuse the vaccine.
It is understandable that the public is fearful during this time, especially considering the political atmosphere around us. Yet, we must not be fearful of this. Everyone must put aside their fears and political reservations and see that this advancement in medicine is designed to aid us. To refuse the COVID-19 vaccine is to permit the outbreak to continue indefinitely. This vaccine is not an attack on citizens out of evil intentions; it was created out of concern for them.