October 12, 2022

False claim alleges that Australia's New South Wales forces farmers to vaccinate cattle with mRNA injections


An Australian anti-vaccine campaigner has falsely claimed the state of New South Wales, Australia, has "forced farmers to vaccinate their herd with mRNA jabs" that allegedly led to dozens of cattle deaths.

Whilst mRNA vaccines for viral livestock diseases are in development, as of October 11, no such jabs were available or mandated for use for cattle in Australia. AFP has not found evidence the incident described in the posts actually occurred.

The claim was shared by prominent Australian anti-vaccine campaigner David Oneeglio, who posts online messages opposing vaccine mandates. It surfaced after New South Wales announced on September 28 it had struck a deal with a US biotech firm to fast-track the development of mRNA vaccines for two viral livestock diseases.

The vaccines — not expected to be ready until August 2023 — are for foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease.

Australia's stringent biosecurity laws designed to protect the country's large agriculture industry means that authorities are on high alert following outbreaks of both diseases in Indonesia.

"There is no way that cattle here have been vaccinated by mRNA, let alone died from it," Pall Thordarson, director of the University of New South Wales' RNA Institute, told AFP on October 4.

A representative for New South Wales' deputy premier separately told AFP on October 11 that "The NSW Government has not mandated the use of a vaccine in livestock — our challenge is to develop one."

mRNA vaccines will have "no impact on animal products such as meat or milk," a spokesperson for the Department of Primary Industries, which oversees the state's agricultural industry, told AFP on October 5.

- AFP Australia

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