Korean posts falsely claim G20 'agreed to mandate vaccine passports and inoculations'

Multiple Korean-language posts have shared false claims that world leaders who attended the G20 summit on the resort island of Bali in Indonesia in November 2022 "agreed to make vaccinations and vaccine passports mandatory". The G20 leaders' declaration, however, only affirms the importance of vaccinations and proof of vaccination -- it does not include agreements about making either mandatory. The foreign ministry of South Korea -- a G20 member -- told AFP that no other agreements on vaccines had been reached at the summit.

"World is going mad," reads a Korean-language Facebook post shared here on November 22, 2022.

The post includes a screenshot of a Japanese-language article, underneath Korean text that reads: "[World leaders] agreed to make vaccine passports mandatory at the G20. They also agreed to make vaccinations mandatory."

The Japanese article is credited to a "Brian Shilhavy", and is headlined: "Universal vaccine passport plan connects the world."

The article also features two photos. While the photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping with US President Joe Biden was captured at the recent Bali G20 summit, that of Xi and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was taken at the 2016 Hangzhou G20 summit.

Screenshot of the misleading claim shared on Facebook, captured on November 23, 2022

The claim circulated online after the G20 summit was held in mid-November on the resort island of Bali, in Indonesia.

The summit, which brought together leaders from the 20 member states as well as invited guests from other countries and regional and international organisations, concluded with the G20 Bali Leaders' Declaration.

Similar claims about vaccine passports and inoculations being made mandatory were also shared elsewhere on Facebook here, here and here; and on Naver Blog here.

The claims, however, are false.

No undisclosed vaccine agreements

An analysis of the G20 Bali Leaders' Declaration -- which can also be seen on the websites of the Indonesian government and European Council -- shows there are no references to mandating vaccine passports or inoculations.

The document only recognises the importance of immunisation and ensuring timely and affordable access to safe vaccines. The leaders also stress the importance of shared standards and verification methods to facilitate international travel.

Days before the summit, leaders also launched a $1.4 billion pandemic fund, which according to its official website aims to help countries prepare for potential future pandemics.

A spokesperson for the foreign ministry of South Korea -- which is a member of the G20 -- also told AFP there were no other agreements reached at the summit about vaccines or any other topic besides those included in the leaders' declaration.

"Anything that isn't listed in the declaration can be regarded as not having been agreed upon by member states," the spokesperson said on November 24.

"There was no agreement about vaccines, including what is being claimed [in the false posts], that has not been disclosed publicly."

Anti-vaccine website

While the Bali G20 summit was covered extensively by global media, AFP could find no credible reports or official announcements about participating countries reaching an agreement on making vaccinations and vaccine passports mandatory.

A keyword search on Google of "Brian Shilhavy" -- who was credited in the Japanese article used in the false posts -- led to an English-language article headlined "Universal Vaccine Passports Plan Unites the World" on the website Health Impact News.

The article reads in part: "And so at the recently concluded G20 Summit in Bali, they all put aside their differences and agreed that a universal vaccine passport is necessary for world travel, allowing the World Health Organization to be able to declare which vaccines are necessary for any current or future 'pandemic'."

The website, however, frequently posts anti-vaccine content and describes itself here as covering news that "other media sources may censor."

AFP has previously fact-checked a misleading claim about Covid-19 vaccines shared by the website here.