The first coronavirus-infected person was reported on Dec 31, 2021, in Wuhan China.
According to John Hopkins’ Covid-19 report, Since the first infected person was detected, out of 236 million total cases more than 5 million people have died. In the very first six months, the coronavirus has caused more than 1million deaths with substantial social and economic upheavals.
Covid-19 vaccines have been scientifically proven to save lives, but for a selected group of people in the religious realm, the more important matter is eternal salvation. The conflict between religion and science is not really about facts rather they are about morals and values. Even though there are many vaccines produced annually, the question remains why the Covid-19 vaccine would specifically carry mysterious and ominous power.
Most of the time the idea of vaccines and getting Covid-19 vaccination is controversial especially for a religious society like Ethiopia. Coming up with a new invention of the Covid-19 vaccine is considered a wicked act of chipping people and tracking them down from then on. Most of the churches and monasteries teach that it’s some kind of devilish propaganda that would separate them from their God.
However, it remains crucial to understand what role the church as a spiritual leader l, amongst other tasks, takes in sending out the right message to people so as to prevent unnecessarily and how many deaths could have been prevented if the correct message had been proclaimed. Even though the church has a more important role of preaching hope, not fear, in a Covid-19 world. Different religious leaders are warning their congregational members by citing the Apocalyptic Biblical verse from the Book of Revelation.
On the New Testament’s the book of Revelation 13:16-18 (16: and he causeth all, both small and great rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. 17: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18: Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescores and six.)
According to the bible, Mark of the Beast (666) is not a physical or visible mark. During the wave of the coronavirus Different YouTube channels have been warning their viewers not to get vaccinated. For example, a religious content Facebook page with more than 300 thousand followers has released a video titled (666 ሼር አድርጉ ትውልድን የማንቃት ሃላፊነት አለብን) warning people not to get vaccinated. The video has got more than 2000 reactions and more than 400 comments.
The video tries to show an orthodox church found in eastern European country Moldova “denounced the potential use of a vaccine against the coronavirus, calling it an antichrist plot to microchip people or introduce other foreign devices into the human body.”
Religious leaders are even blamed for getting vaccinated and encouraging people to take the vaccine when they can save people’s life. People who don’t want to get vaccinated complain about spiritual leaders who encourage people to take the vaccine. Especially in the current situation in Ethiopia, the leaders are reprimanded for preferring to keep their mouth shut when people are slaughtered and killed while trying to encourage people to take the Vaccine.
When the issue of vaccines is raised most of the time it’s controversial. People relate it with Microsoft preparing a microchip to track down people who are vaccinated and Introducing foreign devices into the human body. During my interview with someone who believes that the vaccine is demonic and the vaccine caused a severe illness, he showed me a video (removed by Tiktok) of people getting paralyzed after taking the vaccine.
A woman named Yabsira is a Christian woman who positively accepts the idea of getting the vaccine, and took it without any kind of hesitation. She believes that the church has been gullible over the years and without scientific verifications of facts has been deceived and misled. She said that each one of us has to come up with resolutions and help others to make the right choices based on facts and not speculations.
HaqCheck is a local multilingual fact-checking project based in Ethiopia, formed inside Addis Zeybe’s newsroom, now Inform Africa’s Counter Disinformation Project – a board-led Civil Society Organization (CSO) – dedicated to verifying media contents from social to the mainstream. HaqCheck works in collaboration with media outlets to monitor media contents in English and four local languages (Amharic, Afaan Oromo, Tigrigna, and Somali).
This report is produced with the support of UNESCO under the #CoronavirusFacts: Addressing the ‘Disinfodemic’ on COVID-19 in conflict-prone Environments that the UNESCO Addis Ababa Office is implementing in Ethiopia with financial support from the European Union (EU). The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO or the EU concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The ideas and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO or The European Union and do not commit these organizations in any way.