Footage of a local TV journalist in Edmonton, Canada, suffering a medical emergency on air on Sunday has prompted fresh conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine.
Jessica Robb appeared on CTV News Edmonton reporting from in the field, during which she began to jumble her words before stumbling, at which point the camera cut away. The channel later wrote on Twitter that she "is feeling better and is now resting."
However, the clip sparked unfounded speculation as to what had happened to the reporter and what had caused it.
In the footage, Robb can be seen breathing heavily as she responds to studio presenter Nahreman Issa, during the 6pm news. After a deep gulp of breath, she begins to confuse her words.
Robb tries to press on, repeating the same phrase several times before she says: "Sorry Nahreman, I'm not feeling very well right now and I'm about to..." She then makes an incoherent noise before Issa intervenes.
Just before the live feed is cut, Robb can be seen with her eyes beginning to droop as she stumbles on the spot. "She is not alone," Issa then clarifies. "She is with photog[raphy] operators."
Robb has since protected her tweets. However, in a screenshot of one that has been circulated on the platform she says, "I'm okay," before thanking Sean McClune, a photo journalist, "for being there for me" and Issa "for being an absolute pro."
Newsweek has contacted Robb for comment.
Despite the messages from CTV Edmonton and Robb herself, the clip was quickly picked up by COVID conspiracy theory accounts that claimed it was another example of the effects of the vaccine, after some found a previous post in which Robb had mentioned she was triple vaccinated.
DiedSuddenly, the official account for a COVID conspiracy movie produced by, among others, Stew Peters, a far-right personality, described the footage as "DISTURBING", linking the "medical episode" to the fact "she has been vaccinated three times."
Now The End Begins, a Christian website which has posted articles referring to the "Plandemic" and has described Anthony Fauci, the former chief medical adviser to the president, as the "antichrist", tweeted: "This is sickening. They are collapsing before our eyes, please pray this girl made it through."
Keean Bexte, editor-in-chief of The Counter Signal, a "mainstream media alternative" which in June 2021 started a petition to "FORCE [Justin] Trudeau into COVID Jail", drew attention to the on-air incident as well as a headline about Canada's three major telecoms companies — Rogers, Bell and Telus — introducing proof of vaccination policies, before adding: "Unrelated: Bell owns CTV."
@Junction19_60 tweeted: "We really feel for the folks who bought the narrative through government propaganda & fear took experimental mRNA therapy's that are now suffering the consequences." @npcbaldguy said: "Woah! Let me guess, fully vaxxed and boosted."
Other users have speculated that Robb suffered a stroke, or shared memes involving people having heart attacks with captions such as: "Help! I'm having a coincidence." Both ailments have occurred among a small number of people who have been vaccinated, but are believed by medical experts to be far less common than those among patients infected with the virus itself.
The response to Robb's sudden decline in health mirrors the anti-vaxxer response on January 2 to Damar Hamlin, a Buffalo Bills player who went into cardiac arrest after colliding with another player.
Following the incident, right-wing pundit Charlie Kirk tweeted: "This is a tragic and all too familiar sight right now: Athletes dropping suddenly" — an apparent reference to a conspiracy theory linking the deaths of athletes to the Covid vaccine.
In conversation with Tucker Carlson on Fox News, Peter McCullough, a medical doctor who has questioned the number of vaccine-related adverse medical events, said: "I think the leading concern here is vaccine-induced myocarditis."
@THEACCP wrote: "Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest was not an isolated incident. This has been happening to millions of people across the world ever since Pfizer and Moderna released their bioweapon."
Following the conspiracy-theory storm the event prompted, Fauci told CBS: "Yet again, another conspiracy theory — complete nonsense — is going to have some people make a decision for themselves and their family not to get vaccinated, which may cost them their lives."