This picture of a vaccine vial from March 2020 is real

23 November 2020
What was claimed

A vial for the Oxford vaccine existed in March 2020.

Our verdict

This is correct. The vaccine has been in development since January and in trials since March 2020.

We’ve been asked about and seen posts that question whether a news report showing a vial apparently for a vaccine dated 15 March 2020 is genuine.

The report came from Sky, the footage showing the vial came to them on 23 April 2020. It shows a vaccine in development. You can see a similar image in their story here

There is no reason to think this is not a genuine photo. Vaccine doses are often produced well before they come to market for the purpose of trials.

The vaccine pictured is the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, more commonly known as the Oxford or AstraZeneca vaccine. This vaccine has been in development since January 2020

By February 2020 doses of the trial vaccine were being produced, and clinical trial recruitment began in late MarchOther vaccines, such as the Moderna vaccine, have gone through testing at a similar time scale.

Vaccines can often take a long time to develop, with some stages taking years. The vaccines for Covid-19 have notably been developed much more quickly than usual for a number of reasons. 

However, as we’ve stated before, the streamlining of this process does not mean vital safety checks do not have to take place.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because, while this is a real picture, it is normal for vaccine doses to be produced for the purposes of trials, well before they come to market.

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