Coronavirus (1472) Conspiracy theories and misinformation about COVID-19 in Nigeria

20 November, 2022

An interesting paper in Vaccine, Volume 40, Issue 13, 18 March 2022, Pages 2114-2121

Conspiracy theories and misinformation about COVID-19 in Nigeria: Implications for vaccine demand generation communications

Chizoba Wonodia et al.

First thematic analysis of circulating misinformation about COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Found universal exposure to misinformation on COVID-19 and the vaccine.

Top false claim was that COVID-19 is fake and used by politicians to misuse funds.

Tracking public opinion on COVID-19 will help efforts to counter vaccine hesitancy.

Adaptive strategies and messages will counter COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.



COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is a worldwide phenomenon and a serious threat to pandemic control efforts. Until recently, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy was not the cause of low vaccine coverage in Nigeria; vaccine scarcity was the problem. As the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines improves in the second half of 2021 and more doses are deployed in Nigeria, the supply/demand dynamic will switch. Vaccine acceptance will become a key driver of coverage; thus, amplifying the impact of vaccine hesitancy. Conspiracy theories and misinformation about COVID-19 are rampant and have been shown to drive vaccine hesitancy and refusal. This study systematically elicits the misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating about COVID-19 among the Nigerian public to understand relevant themes and potential message framing for communication efforts to improve vaccine uptake.


From February 1 to 8, 2021, we conducted 22 focus group discussions and 24 key informant interviews with 178 participants from six states representing the six geopolitical zones. Participants were purposively selected and included sub-national program managers, healthcare workers, and community members. All interviews were iteratively analyzed using a framework analysis approach.


We elicited a total of 33 different conspiracy theories or misinformation that participants had heard about the COVID-19 virus, pandemic response, or vaccine. All participants had heard some misinformation. The leading claim was that COVID-19 was not real, and politicians took advantage of the situation and misused funds. People believed certain claims based on distrust of government, their understanding of Christian scripture, or their lack of personal experience with COVID-19.


Our study is the first to report a thematic analysis of the range of circulating misinformation about COVID-19 in Nigeria. Our findings provide new insights into why people believe these theories, which could help the immunization program improve demand generation communication for COVID-19 vaccines by targeting unsubstantiated claims.


Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA project on COVID-19, supported by University of Edinburgh

Let's build a future where every person has access to reliable healthcare information and is protected from misinformation - Join HIFA:

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. HIFA brings stakeholders together to accelerate progress towards universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK based non-profit in official relations with the World Health Organization.

Twitter: @hifa_org