Video Editor: Vivek Gupta
The video of a person from Maharashtra's Nashik sticking spoons and coins on their body is being shared with a claim that the person became "magnetic" after taking the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Several regional and national media houses shared the video with similar claims.
However, we spoke with Arvind Sonar, the person in the viral video, who said that he never claimed that the vaccine gave him "magnetic powers". We also spoke with virologists and physicists who dismissed the claim and said that it was not possible to develop "magnetic powers” through a vaccine.
One of the posts that has gone viral says, "Nashik man claims to have magnetism developed in body after receiving Covishield COVID-19 vaccine.[sic.]”
The same photo and caption went massively viral on Facebook.
We also received the story as a query on our WhatsApp tipline.
Several media houses like News18, Navbharat Times, India.com and regional channels like ABP Majha posted stories that said that the Nashik man had claimed he "became magnetic after the second dose of the Covishiled COVID-19 Vaccine".
After the story of the Nashik man went viral, several other videos of people claiming to have become magnetic have gone viral on the internet. The Times of India published the video of a man from Ulhasnagar who made a similar claim. Another story was published in East Mojo talked about a claim from Sikkim.
Family Denies Linking 'Magnetism' to Vaccine
The Quint reached out to the Sonar family in Nashik and the family denied any links of the "magnetism" to the vaccine.
"No one else in the family is experiencing anything like this. Both my parents have taken the vaccine but it is only my father who seems to attracting spoons and coins. It is not linked to the vaccine, because the vaccine must be there in his entire body but the objects are only sticking to his upper body. So, it cannot be linked to the vaccine," Arvind Sonar's son Jayant said.
The family says they spoke with doctors and health experts who said that those objects stick to Sonar's body because he has a different skin type than others.
Both Arvind Sonar and his son told The Quint that "they didn't have any side effects from the vaccine and everyone should take the vaccine as it is the only weapon in our fight against COVID-19".
“Some media houses twisted the facts and put out wrong information to gain TRP. Please don’t believe those reports.”Arvind Sonar to The Quint
The Quint also reached out to Dr Bapusaheb Nagargoje, Medical Officer, Nashik Municipal Corporation, who examined Sonar after his story went viral.
"Vaccination does not cause something like this. We have been vaccinating kids for a very long time and now we have started vaccination against COVID-19 since January. Vaccination has been going on all over the world and we have vaccinated more than 4 lakh people in Nashik only," said Dr Nagargoje.
“Scientifically speaking, the vaccine can not cause something like this,” he added.
Talking about Sonar, Dr Nagargoje said, "Doctors have checked him and in our preliminary investigation we have found that it is not linked to the vaccine. He might have had this condition before and the actual cause can be found after a proper check-up of his body."
Doctors And Scientists Dismiss Claim
We spoke with eminent virologist Dr Jacob T John, who said, "There was no ingredient in the vaccine that could make a human body magnetic.”
However, Dr John said that, while he does not think that a person can exhibit magnetism, if the observations in the viral video are true, then it needs to be investigated by a physicist.
Dr Satyajit Rath, an immunologist and adjunct faculty of IISER, Pune, also agreed with Dr John and said, "As far as I know, there are no ingredients in any COVID-19 (or any other) vaccines that could be 'magnetic', nor do I think that vaccines, COVID-19-specific or otherwise, can cause anyone to have 'magnetic powers' that are claimed in the video."
According to fact sheets of Covishield (AstraZeneca), it does not contain any metal-based ingredients.
We spoke with Aniket Sule, Associate Professor at The Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, to understand if such a phenomenon is possible.
“You should know that no food intake or no injection can make somebody suddenly turn magnetic. Next, you should also observe that this gentleman is using spoons, utensils and coins which are made of stainless steel. Stainless steel is in itself is not magnetic, you can take a real magnet close to a Re 1 or Rs 2 coin and see if it gets attracted to magnet.”Aniket Sule
We also spoke with Dr Arnab Bhattacharya, a material scientist with Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, who also pointed out that stainless steel objects are not attracted to a magnet.
Why Do Objects Stick to the Body?
Explaining how this could be happening, Sule said, "If you take any stainless steel object and press against the body, it will stick to the skin if either of the surfaces are a little moist. If you are sweating or if you have washed the utensils and they haven't dried properly then they will easily stick."
Members of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) posted a video recreating what was seen in the viral video by sticking non-magnetic objects like stainless steel and even plastic on their body.
We also could not find any evidence in any of the reputed science journals that could support the viral claims.
Such claims about people possessing magnetic properties have been discussed before. In 2011, a seven-year-old boy in Serbia claimed to have "magnetic" powers. In 2016, a man from New Delhi made a similar claim which was reported in national media.