A viral claim stating that Russian President Vladimir Putin's daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, who was injected with the COVID-19 vaccine has died, is found to be fake. Earlier this month, Russia had become the first country to announce the approval of its vaccine, named Sputnik V, against the global pandemic.
Coronavirus, which was first reported in December last year, has so far infected over 22.1 million people. Russia, who was accused of using hackers to steal COVID-19 vaccine data from other countries, has reported over 9,30,000 cases so far.
What is the Fake Claim?
Putin, while announcing the world's first vaccine against COVID-19, had revealed that it was safe and was administered to his own daughter. Putin, who has two daughters, has rarely spoken about them in public.
Soon after his announcement, a video of a girl being injected with Sputnik V started circulating on social media. The caption accompanying the picture read, "Russia has developed first coronavirus vaccine. Watch Putin's daughter get first COVID-19 vaccine." However, the volunteer in the picture was completely unrelated to the Russian president.
The news of the death of Putin's daughter dying after the second dose of the vaccine, flooded the social media after Toronto Today reported the fake claim on its website on August 15. The article was headlined 'Vladimir Putin's daughter DIES after the second dose of COVID vaccine.'
Report States Doctors Were Unable to Reverse Vaccine's Side Effects
Claiming that the victim died soon after receiving the second dose of the vaccine, the website reported, "Vladimir Putin's daughter suffered unexpected side effects to the experimental Russian COVID vaccine, and has passed away in Moscow. The Kremlin has yet to make a statement on her death."
To strengthen its claim, the outlet quoted an unnamed source in the inner circle of the country. "A source within Russia's inner circle stated that Putin's daughter – Katerina Tikhonova – suffered a rise in temperature shortly after her second injection, and then suffered a seizure. Doctors were not able to reverse the side-effects of the vaccine, and she was pronounced dead late yesterday evening," read the report. A Tarot card reading YouTube video had also made a similar claim. However, the video, has been removed from the platform.
Netizens Taken by the Fake Claim
Snopes, a fact-checking website, found the claims to be completely baseless in the absence of any statement either from the Kremlin or Putin himself. The outlet also found that the claim originated from a website created a few weeks ago from the date of publication of the article.
However, the users on the microblogging site were quick to believe in the fake claim with 'Putin's Daughter Dies' trending on Twitter. "Lot of deaths on testing. Putin's daughter had reaction, died. 6 or 7 other incidents out of 16 test subjects. A few dead. Mandatory suicide I guess," wrote a user.
"Wow, this sounds like a population control attempt! Putin's daughter just died of the COVID vaccine!!" wrote another. "Putin's daughter died from the Russian vaccine. They said it hadn't been released and they were going to try and cover it up from my understanding," tweeted another.