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Fact Check-Anti-COVID-19 vaccine cartoon contains false information

The article has been updated to correct a typo.

Social media users are sharing an animated film that makes various false claims relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine.

Examples can be seen here and here .

The video is visible here , posted by website Centipede Nation and makes a variety of false claims (mostly listed at around the 14:57 minute mark), some of which are beyond the scope of this check.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted authorization for emergency use of three COVID-19 vaccines including the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen vaccines (here).

“VACCINE IS NOT SAFE OR THOROUGHLY TESTED”

The video makes the claim that the COVID-19 vaccine is not safe at the 00:25 mark by citing side effects such as myelitis, stroke, myocarditis, acute myocardial infarction, encephalomyelitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, meningitis, transverse myelitis, encephalitis, convulsions/seizures, autoimmune disease, narcolepsy and cataplexy anaphylaxis, meningoencephalitis, and encephalopathy, which is misspelled.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) explains that serious adverse events following COVID-19 vaccines are rare, on its website here .

Anaphylaxis, for example, occurred in about 2 to 5 people per million vaccinated. The CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed 39 reports of Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and two following the Moderna vaccine. The CDC advises that there is no increased risk for TTS after mRNA vaccination based on available data.

There were 137 reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine out of 13 million people were vaccinated. This occurred mostly in men, many who were 50 years or older. The CDC confirmed 699 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA vaccination, mostly in male adolescents and young adults. It is still investigating whether there is a connection between the condition and the vaccine (here).

The FDA says on its website here : “Based on available information, FDA strongly believes that the known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination greatly outweigh the known and potential risks of COVID-19.”

The video claims at 05:22 that the vaccines have not been thoroughly tested. This is false. All vaccines granted authorization for emergency use by the FDA have been put through standard safety testing before being rolled out to the public. More details about this can be seen here .

Reuters previously debunked the claim that the vaccine skipped animal trials here .

More than half the U.S. population as well as the majority of the population of other countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel and United Arab Emirates, have been vaccinated (here).

VAERS

At the 01:02 mark, the video mentions U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) as a place where reports of adverse events are collected.

The video fails to mention that anyone can report events to VAERS (vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html) and a disclaimer on the CDC’s website says: “The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable” (here ). When downloading the data, users are presented with a further disclaimer that the data do not include information from investigations into reported cases. The disclaimer also says “the inclusion of events in VAERS data does not imply causality” (here).

Reuters explored this lack of causality in previous fact checks here , here and here .

“VACCINE ALTERS YOUR DNA”

At the 03:12 mark, the video compares the mRNA vaccine entering the body to hacking a computer, claiming that the vaccine bypasses the DNA like a hacker bypasses the security firewall of a computer.

“How can you be sure that it’s safe and that the only code they’re uploading into your cells is the code supposedly to fight COVID-19?” the narrator asks at 03:58.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology involving the injection of a small part of the virus’s genetic code (RNA) to stimulate the recipient’s immune response. The mRNA does not alter the recipient’s DNA; it is broken down shortly after vaccination and does not stay in the body.

Reuters Fact Check debunked this claim previously in more detail, here and here .

VACCINE INGREDIENTS

The video discusses COVID-19 vaccine ingredients around the 04:08 mark, claiming that the vaccines contain unsafe ingredients.

For example, it claims the Pfizer vaccine includes ALC-0315, DS-PC and potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, and dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, saying they are similar to the ingredients in fertilizer.

Potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride and dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate are salts to help balance pH, as explained here and here . ALC-0315 and DS-PC (1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine) are lipids which protect the mRNA and aid it sliding into cells, as explained by MIT Technology Review here and Nebraska Medicine here .

A fact sheet on the FDA’s website here discloses the ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It includes mRNA, lipids, potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate and sucrose.

Moderna’s ingredients disclosed here includes mRNA, lipids, cholesterol, 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose.

The video points out that the Moderna vaccine contains tromethamine and SM-102. These are both listed in the ingredient list here. Tromethamine is an acid stabilizer, as explained here and here , while SM-102 is a lipid molecule which helps form a lipid nanoparticle that does not dissolve in water. (here )

Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine here includes recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, citric acid monohydrate, trisodium citrate dihydrate, ethanol, 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD), polysorbate-80, sodium chloride.

“VACCINE IS NOT EFFECTIVE”

At the 07:37 mark, the video claims that the vaccines are not effective. This is false.

Pfizer/BioNTech has said its vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95% (here ), Moderna 94.1% (here ) and Johnson & Johnson 66% here , in preventing COVID-19 in respective trials.

Moderna has also reported a 100% rate of protection against severe effects of COVID-19, while Pfizer said ten severe cases of the disease were reported in its Phase III trial – nine of which were in the placebo group and just one in the vaccine group (here ).

In a trial of nearly 44,000 people, Johnson & Johnson found its vaccine to have 72% protection against moderate and severe COVID-19 in the United States (here ).

The vaccines appear to have varying levels of efficacy against the Delta variant and time of inoculation. For example, Pfizer's chief scientific officer, Mikael Dolsten, said the recently reported dip in the vaccine's effectiveness in Israel was mostly due to infections in people who had been vaccinated in January or February. The country's health ministry said vaccine effectiveness in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease fell to 64% in June. (here )

Graphs on CDC’s website show a clear decline in hospitalizations here and deaths here after the COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out, especially for the 65 years and older age group.

As the Delta variant became the dominant variant of COVID-19 in the United States, the country has seen an increase in cases and deaths. (here )

Cases have also decreased significantly since the rollout of the vaccines, as visible here .

VERDICT

False. The video makes various false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines.

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

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