Fact Check-COVID-19 vaccines do not contain live immortal creatures, experts say

A video has gone viral online making several unverified claims about Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, including that they contain “live parasitic agents” similar to freshwater polyp hydra vulgaris, which continually regenerates. However, the claims are baseless and the shots do not contain living organisms, according to the vaccine manufacturers and an independent infectious diseases expert.

Speaking on “The Stew Peters Show” in a recording seen thousands of times in videos (here, here) and a podcast (here), a woman described as “Dr Carrie Madej” claims to have magnified and analysed vials of Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.

Madej describes herself as an osteopath (, who now dedicates her time to “educating others on vaccines, nanotechnology, and human rights", according to her website here.

In the video, she presents images allegedly showing moving particles in the COVID-19 shots, claiming they are live parasitic microorganisms akin to hydra vulgaris, a freshwater polyp which exists in a continuous state of renewal (here).

She suggests the organisms may multiply and form independent neural networks inside those who have received COVID-19 vaccines, and could ultimately influence their thoughts and actions.

“They’re thinking wouldn’t this be great if we can put this inside a human body’s genome and then if your hand was chopped off by a trauma you can grow a new hand,” Madej says in the clip here [timestamp, 7:51].

She adds: “If these organisms were able to keep growing because they’re obviously in the vials, if they’re able to keep growing in a body, well let’s surmise that they can make their own neural network, their own outside of yours. This is not good, that means its own communication system.”

The claims have since spread widely across social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter (here , here , here , here , here , here and here).

“Hydra vulgaris is a freshwater animal related to jellyfish. It’s not some maniacal brain controlling monster — this is just nonsense and not worthy of even considering,” Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Reuters in an email.

He added: “It is not possible that the vaccines contain live parasitic agents. This is an arbitrary claim and ignores the sterility steps that are in place.”

Johnson & Johnson said Madej’s claims amount to misinformation. The company confirmed to Reuters that all ingredients of its Janssen COVID-19 shot are publicly available via the National Institutes of Health (NIH), here.

Along with inactive ingredients, Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate contains the active ingredient Ad26.COV2.S, a viral genetic material which cannot copy itself (here).

Meanwhile, Pfizer also told Reuters that its COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any virus particles or living components. It is a synthetic mRNA vaccine of which a full ingredients list can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website here.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine contains messenger RNA which causes the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against COVID-19.

“The materials in the vaccine don’t do anything but protect you from COVID by helping to build immune infrastructure,” Dr Adalja said, describing Madej’s claims as “fairy tale”.

He added that it’s not possible to say what the images featured in the video may be, or whether substances were added to the vials post-manufacture, given that the analysis was not a controlled scientific study to determine contamination.


False. Authorised and approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain live parasitic agents which can multiply and build neural networks.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.