Another Day, Another Meme to Debunk: Vaccines for the Bovine Coronavirus Will Not Cure COVID-19

During any big news event, Facebook becomes even more of a pit of toxic disinformation than it is on a relatively normal day. That said, there is one particular meme that I saw pop up a few times recently and I can’t stop thinking about it.

(Some context about my feed: I am from rural West Tennessee, so I saw this posted by a couple of folks back home. Please do not come at me—or anyone, really—with talk of ignorant rednecks or country hicks, I will promptly tell you that is some reductive nonsense and it’s not the point I’m making here.)

While both posters in my circles have since deleted the meme, which Facebook has now flagged as “partly false information,” it’s still really important to explain to our readers just why this specific post is completely bogus: For the eternal record contained within the limitless 1s and 0s of the Internet, there is no vaccine for humans who contract the novel coronavirus. This is the reality; it is not an elaborate ploy made up by the media for clicks. 

The confusion here rests in the fact that there are several types of the virus. There is even a coronavirus that infects cows. And that is the one that is treated with a vaccine, ScourGard 4K, for “healthy, pregnant cows and heifers as an aid in preventing diarrhea in their calves caused by bovine rotavirus, bovine coronavirus, and enterotoxigenic strains of Escherichia coil,” according to manufacturer Zoetisus. Bovine coronavirus has been around for years. It is not the same as the novel coronavirus causing the current pandemic, it is merely in the same family. As Reuters reports:

According to the CDC, coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. “Coronavirus” is a term for a group of diseases. Seven different kinds of human coronaviruses exist, including 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1. Most human coronaviruses cause “mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses,” similar to the common cold. In different species, coronaviruses can produce “a wide spectrum of disease syndromes.” The CDC mentions that: “Sometimes coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve and make people sick and become a new human coronavirus. Three recent examples of this are 2019-nCoV, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV.”

It makes a lot of sense that in this moment, people are desperately seeking a solution to make them feel safer. But this vaccine ain’t it. And if we’ve learned anything so far this week, it’s that experimenting with medication without the oversight of a physician, even if you’re following the word of our president, is downright dangerous.

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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