Trust the Truth: Not the Myths

TRUTH: Messenger RNA (mRNA) is not an untested vaccine methodology

More truth: The COVID-19 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines may be the first commercially available human vaccines to use mRNA technology, but it is not an "untested" technology. In fact, it has been used in the laboratory for 30 years. "The first report of the successful use of in vitro transcribed (IVT) mRNA in animals was published in 1990. A large body of preclinical data has accumulated over the past several years, and multiple human clinical trials have been initiated. The past 2 years alone have witnessed the publication of dozens of preclinical and clinical reports showing the efficacy of these [mRNA] platforms."1 The mRNA approach has been tested in the laboratory many times, and multiple experimental mRNA vaccines have demonstrated encouraging results against infectious diseases and several types of cancer in both animal models and humans over the last several years.

1. Pardi N, Hogan MJ, Porter FW, Weissman D. mRNA vaccines - a new era in vaccinology. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018 Apr; 17(4):261-279. doi:10.1038/nrd.2017.243. Epub 2018 Jan 12. PMID: 29326426; PMCID: PMC5906799. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29326426/

TRUTH: mRNA vaccines cannot change your DNA

More truth: Genetic modification involves the deliberate insertion of foreign DNA into the nucleus of a human cell, and mRNA vaccines simply don't do that. Furthermore, the mRNA vaccine does not have the ability to insert itself into the human cell nucleus by itself.1 In other words, "There is no risk of integration of mRNA into the human genome. In the case of humans, the genome is located in the nucleus of the cell in the form of DNA. The integration of RNA into DNA is not possible, among other things, because of the different chemical structures. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the mRNA integrated by the body cells after a vaccination will be converted into DNA."2

1. Pardi N, Hogan MJ, Porter FW, Weissman D. mRNA vaccines - a new era in vaccinology. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018 Apr; 17(4):261-279. doi:10.1038/nrd.2017.243. Epub 2018 Jan 12. PMID: 29326426; PMCID: PMC5906799. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29326426/

2. Professor Klaus Cichutek explains coronavirus vaccine. Paul Erlich Institute: COVID-19. Newsroom, n.d. https://www.pei.de/EN/newsroom/dossier/coronavirus/coronavirus-content.html?nn=13581910&cms_pos=2

TRUTH: Microchips are not injected along with the vaccine

More truth: Confusion seems to have arisen because Abiject, the company awarded a $138 million contract to produce syringes to inject the new COVID-19 vaccines includes an RFID microchip on the syringe itself. The microchip is on the outside of the syringe, is not injected, and if scanned by the person administering the vaccine, using his or her smartphone, it allows the time and place of the vaccine administration, but not the recipient, to be recorded in a central directory. The purpose of such records is to provide a picture of where, in the U.S. vaccines have been administered.1 This is the same technology that is normally used to provide anti-counterfeit security to the type of pre-filled syringes manufactured by Abiject and is not new for the COVID-19 vaccines.2

1. U.S. Department of Defense. DOD Awards $138 Million Contract Enabling Prefilled Syringes for Future COVID-19 Vaccine. https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/2184808/dod-awards-138-million-contract-enabling-prefilled-syringes-for-future-covid-19/source/GovDelivery/

2. A Comparison Survey Study on RFID Based Anti-Counterfeiting Systems Ghaith Khalil *,† , Robin Doss † and Morshed Chowdhury. J. Sens. Actuator Netw. 2019, 8, 37; doi: 10.3390/jsan8030037

TRUTH: Racial/ethnic groups or the elderly are not being singled out as "guinea pigs" to get the first vaccine

More truth: Four criteria are being used to determine who should get the vaccine first: These are:1

  1. Risk of acquiring infection
  2. Risk of severe morbidity and mortality
  3. Risk of transmitting the disease to others
  4. Risk of having a negative impact on society if the person gets sick

    Combining these four risk factors the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices makes recommendations to the states on who should be vaccinated first. Neither race nor ethnicity is being used in determining these priorities.2

1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25917

2. How CDC Is Making COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations-process.html

Truth: Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna mRNA vaccine causes sterilization in women.

More truth: The Pfizer mRNA COVID-19 vaccine does not contain the spike protein synctitin-1 and the "head of research" at Pfizer never made a claim that it could cause sterilization in women. A false claim has been made, using a statement by a former (9-years ago) Pfizer employee that cautioned that such an outcome could happen. He never was head of research at Pfizer, and a current Pfizer spokesperson has said, "It has been incorrectly suggested that COVID-19 vaccines will cause infertility because of a shared amino acid sequence in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and a placental protein. The sequence, however, is too short to plausibly give rise to autoimmunity."

Rebecca Dutch, chair of University of Kentucky's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, pointed out that  while syncytin-1 and the spike protein broadly share some features, they are quite different in the details that antibodies recognize.  Jacob Yount, an associate professor of the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity at Ohio State University, College of Medicine,  who studies the syncytin proteins as well as SARS-CoV-,2 has noted that the COVID vaccines do not contain syncytin-1 protein or mRNA encoding syncytin-1, and thus there is no reason to think that an immune response against syncytin-1 would be developed. "We don't see infertility with the flu vaccine and that is also targeting a viral fusion protein in a similar way," he said.

Truth: None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently used or expected soon includes the actual Coronavirus in it, so they cannot give you COVID-19.

More truth:  Although many of the vaccines most of us are familiar with use a weakened (attenuated) form of a virus (measles, mumps, and rubella and the chickenpox vaccine are examples), neither the Pfizer nor Moderna vaccines, which are based on genetically modified messenger RNA (mRNA), nor the Astrazenec or Johnson and Johnson vaccines, which use genetically modified cold viruses, contain the virus responsible for COVID-19. One of the vaccines, made by Novavax, which may be available sometime next year, uses a killed (inactivated) protein segment from the coronavirus, which is similar to the process used in  the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccines.

Read more:

Kaur SP, Gupta V. COVID-19 Vaccine: A comprehensive status report. Virus Res. 2020;288:198114. doi:10.1016/j.virusres.2020.198114

van Riel, D., de Wit, E. Next-generation vaccine platforms for COVID-19. Nat. Mater. 19, 810–812 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-020-0746-0

Kwon, D. The Promise of mRNA Vaccines. The Scientist, Nov 25, 2020. https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/the-promise-of-mrna-vaccines-68202

Truth: Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines was developed using cells from aborted fetuses.

More Truth: Neither of the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer or Moderna, the two vaccines that are currently authorized for use in the United States, use cells derived from aborted fetuses. Some of the vaccines still in development used a kidney cell line, widely used in research and industry, that comes from a fetus aborted in 1972, or a cell line from retinal cells from an 18-week-old fetus aborted in 1985. The Astrazeneca vaccine and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine rely on such cells to produce large quantities of the cold viruses on which the vaccines are based. However, neither the development nor manufacturing of the vaccines that rely on these fetal cells require any ongoing abortions. They are all derived from the original two cell lines from 1972 and 1985.

Read More:

Wadman, M., Abortion opponents protest COVID-19 vaccines' use of fetal cells. Science, June 5, 2020.  https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/abortion-opponents-protest-covid-19-vaccines-use-fetal-cells

Asher, J. UPDATE: Use of Pfizer, Moderna COVID-19 vaccines is morally acceptable, say bishops. Catholic News Service. November 24, 2020.  https://www.catholicnews.com/update-use-of-pfizer-moderna-covid-19-vaccines-is-morally-acceptable-say-bishops/

TRUTH: No one has died as a result of being vaccinated for COVID-19

More truth: There are reports circulating on social media about people who have died after being vaccinated for COVID-19 with either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines. No one has died, although there have been instances of severe allergic reactions and even hospitalization of persons vaccinated. In Alaska, two recipients had severe reactions to vaccinations and one was hospitalized. In Germany eight workers in a long-term care facility were mistakenly given doses of the Pfizer vaccine that were five times the normal strength (each received a full vial of vaccine instead of 1/5 of a vial). Four were sent to the hospital for observation after developing flu-like symptoms but were later discharged. With regard to deaths, one report is about a nurse in Chattanooga, Tennessee who was shown fainting after receiving a Pfizer vaccine. In fact, the nurse has reported that she has a condition that causes her to faint when she feels pain. She recovered quickly and returned to work in the hospital. Despite claims to the contrary, she has posted tweets and a video showing she is alive and well and working since the incident. Another case cited in social media is a Florida doctor who died of hemorrhagic stroke a little more than two weeks after being vaccinated. Although his death is still being investigated, Pfizer reported that there are no known instances of such an occurrence following vaccination and they do not regard his death as due to vaccination. The coroner's investigation was ongoing as of January 8. Other social media posts have claimed that six people died during the Pfizer vaccine trials. In fact, that is true, however four of those deaths were in the group that received the saline solution placebo, not the vaccine, and no causal link was found between the two who died following vaccination and having been vaccinated. In any large group, particularly one deliberately including older adults, a certain number of people will die during the study period from causes unrelated to the medication being studied. Although one death is still under investigation, there are no deaths that have been causally linked to being vaccinated at this time.

Read more:

 

TRUTH: Proposals to administer half-doses of Moderna vaccine are not related to efforts to reduce side effects.

More truth: Both in the United States and in the UK, there have been debates about whether either increasing the time between the first and second dose of a COVID vaccine or cutting the dose in half in both the first and second dose would be a workable strategy for getting more vaccine to more people faster. None of these debates has suggested that cutting doses or spreading them out over a longer time would be a way to reduce side effects from the vaccine. Social media posts have misinterpreted this debate as being about vaccine safety when it is 100% about finding ways to increase the number of people vaccinated in  shorter period of time.:

Read more: FDA rejects proposals to inoculate more people by halving vaccine dose. Washington Examiner, January 4, 2020