Fact-check: Did COVID vaccine scientists accept Nobel Prize wearing face masks?

FILE - Japan Prize 2022 laureates Hungarian-American biochemist Katalin Kariko, left, and American physician-scientist Drew Weissman
FILE - Japan Prize 2022 laureates Hungarian-American biochemist Katalin Kariko, left, and American physician-scientist Drew Weissman Copyright Eugene Hoshiko/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
By Sophia Khatsenkova
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Certain social media users believe that the scientists behind the COVID-19 vaccine wearing face coverings means they do not believe in their own technology.


This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for their work on mRNA vaccines, crucial to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The same mRNA technology is now being researched for its application to other diseases, including cancer.

However, according to some social media users, the award-winning scientists don’t even trust their own technology after being spotted accepting the award wearing a face mask.

"The vaccine works so well that you even have to wear a mask when collecting your Nobel prize for it," quipped one X account.

"Imagine getting a Nobel prize for such a safe and effective product that you still have to wear a mask and can still catch and transmit the virus. What a joke," said another user.

After conducting a reverse image search, The Cube found the original picture on Alamy, a stock photo website.

The image was taken in April 2022, more than one year before the Nobel Prize ceremony. 

The caption also says the photo was taken in Tokyo during the Japan Prize ceremony – not in Sweden where the Nobel Prize winners are decided.

The Japan Prize is an annual event that awards pioneers in science and technology.

The country dropped the mask mandate pretty late compared to other nations around the world. 

In March 2023, the government droppedits recommendation to wear masks, so it is highly likely that in April 2022 during the ceremony, the award winners and other attendees would have still been obliged to wear one. 

An official video of the Japan Prize 2022, shows that everyone present is seen covering their faces – not only Karikó and Weissman. 

Moreover, both scientists were seen celebrating their achievement without a face covering when accepting the Nobel Prize this year during a press conference in Philadelphia, USA.

The 2023 Nobel Prize laureates will receive their awards on the 10th of December 2023, in Oslo, Norway.

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