CTV reporter's medical emergency fuels Covid vaccine conspiracy theory

Social media users claim the Covid-19 vaccine caused a Canadian news reporter to nearly collapse on live TV. This is false; the journalist has refuted the speculation, and public health authorities say the shots are safe and effective at preventing severe illness and death.

"Triple-Jabbed Canadian reporter slurs words, nearly collapses on live TV," says a January 10, 2023 article from The Liberty Beacon, a website that has previously shared vaccine misinformation.

The claim has also circulated on Twitter, where a January 8, 2023 tweet says: "DISTURBING: Young female reporter, Jessica Robb has a medical episode live on air. She posted on her Facebook page that she has been vaccinated three times. #diedsuddenly."

Screenshot of the Liberty Beacon website taken January 11, 2023

Screenshot of a tweet taken January 12, 2023



In the video shared online, Robb gives a live report for the Canadian Television Network (CTV) in Edmonton, Alberta. She soon stumbles over her words and appears to have a medical emergency.

"I'm not feeling very well," Robb tells her colleague in the clip.

Other articles insinuated the incident was related to Covid-19 vaccination, a rumor that has also spread on platforms such as Facebook, TikTok and Rumble. Several posts include the phrase "died suddenly," referencing a conspiracy theory that the shots are causing mass deaths worldwide, a false allegation made in a film containing numerous erroneous claims about vaccines.

Like those assertions, many posts about Robb's incident are false -- she refuted it in a statement that CTV Edmonton shared on Twitter.

"While I will not share private medical information publicly, I can say that there is no cause for concern, and that my understanding of my own medical background provides a reasonable explanation for what happened," Robb said in the January 9 message. "I can, however, confirm that the situation was in no way related to the Covid-19 vaccine."

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The articles and social media posts are the latest to exploit a high-profile medical incident to sow doubt about the safety of Covid-19 vaccines.

After the death of sports journalist Grant Wahl and Celine Dion's diagnosis with a rare disease in December, and the collapse of US football player Damar Hamlin in January, political commentators and anti-vaccine advocates fueled speculation that Covid-19 shots were to blame.

Health Canada and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend Covid-19 vaccination to protect against severe illness and hospitalization. "Evidence indicates that the benefits of Covid-19 vaccines continue to outweigh the risks of the disease," Health Canada says on its website.

More of AFP's reporting on vaccine misinformation is available here.