COVID-19 Vaccine Crocodile Transformations refers to a series of memes that parody Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro saying that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 could have a side effect of the person turning into an alligator. Following the media reports on Bolsonaro’s speech, memes about people turning into alligators and crocodiles after getting vaccinated gained popularity online.
On December 17th, 2020, at an official event in Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro made comments that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech could have a side-effect of turning people into crocodiles or bearded ladies. On the same day, UOL uploaded a recording of Bolsonaro’s speech to YouTube by . Also on the same day, Twitter user @SamePancher uploaded a subtitled clip of the speech to Twitter, where it received over 1.2 million views, 5.9 quote retweeets and 8,600 likes in four days (shown below).
— Samuel Pancher (@SamPancher) December 17, 2020
In the Pfizer contract it’s very clear: ‘we’re not responsible for any side effects.’ If you turn into a crocodile, it’s your problem. […] If you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or if a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice, they will not have anything to do with it.
Starting on the same day, Twitter users replied to @SamePancher’s post with images of anthropomorphic crocodiles and people turning into crocodiles. Within eight minutes of @SamePancher’s tweet, Twitter user @RafaellMM made the earliest such tweet, gaining over 380 retweets and 4,400 likes (shown below). On December 18th, Twitter account @GatorsDaily tweeted “sign me up baby,” with the tweet gaining over 900 retweets and 6,500 likes.
🔴URGENTE : Confirmado o primeiro caso de jacaré em forma de gente,após vacina da Pfizer ser aplicada. pic.twitter.com/zUY7Ah3hGD
— Rafael Moura (@RafaellMM) December 17, 2020
On November 19th, 2020, New York Post tweeted an article about the Bolsonaro’s claims, with the tweet gaining over 1,000 retweets and 4,900 likes in three days. The tweet prompted more memes about the claims in the following days; for example, on December 20th, 2020, Twitter user @harvajavivr posted a meme that received over 55,800 views, 3,000 retweets and 12,800 likes in one day (shown below).
Me after taking the COVID vaccine https://t.co/Hbknoqj0Sl pic.twitter.com/SM7AaQLNnO
— Javi (@harvjavivr) December 20, 2020