One of the writers of I Am Legend has been forced to clarify the sci-fi film’s fictional nature amid unfounded fears that COVID-19 vaccines would transform people into zombies.
The 2007 adaptation of Richard Matheson’s dystopian novel starred Will Smith as a lone survivor in a world where a botched attempt to cure cancer by mutating measles has killed 99 per cent of the world’s population. The remaining one percent transform into vampiric zombies.
While the film is a work of fiction, COVID jab sceptics have been spreading unfounded claims online that something similar could happen to those who receive the vaccine.
According to the New York Times, the owner of an eyewear store in the Bronx recently struggled to persuade staff to get a vaccine, with one citing the plot of I Am Legend as a fear, per the BBC.
“One employee said she was concerned because she thought a vaccine had caused the characters in the film I Am Legend to turn into zombies,” the report claimed.
Oh. My. God. It’s a movie. I made that up. It’s. Not. Real.
— Akiva Goldsman (@AkivaGoldsman) August 9, 2021
Responding to the NYT report, I Am Legend screenwriter Akiva Goldsman tweeted: “Oh. My. God. It’s a movie. I made that up. It’s. Not. Real.”
A series of memes containing images of the film have also spread on social media, with Facebook labelling them for containing misinformation.
The striking thing about this anecdote is that it's not one person's crazy remark, but sounds like something that's been spreading around widely in some corners of the Internet. Which it turns out it has. This post has tens of thousands of shares, with mostly serious comments pic.twitter.com/ktbwZja1NV
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) August 9, 2021
One features an image of Will Smith tackling a zombie and states: “Remember, in I Am Legend, the sickness didn’t make the zombies. The vaccination did.”
As the New York Times reports, more than 4.48 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide to date, equal to 58 doses for every 100 people.