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Fact Check-COVID-19 vaccines did not skip animal trials because of animal deaths

Posts claiming that COVID-19 vaccine producers skipped animal trials due to the animals in those trials dying are false. Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, which have been granted emergency authorization use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, all conducted animal trials and had no significant safety concerns to report.

Examples can be seen here and here .

Some posts include video of a hearing by the Texas State Senate and the text: “COVID jab: They skipped all animal trials because all animals were dying & went directly to people. Texas State Senate, May 2021.”

The clip in the posts come from a Texas State Senate hearing on May 6, 2021, visible here . The Senate discussed “bill 1669” (here), about “prohibited discrimination regarding vaccination status and mandates for receiving or participating in the administration of vaccines; authorizing administrative penalties.”

At the 44:22 mark here , Texas State Senator Bob Hall begins questioning pediatrician Angelina Farella about the COVID-19 vaccines skipping animal trials. Hall says that animal trials were skipped due to the animals dying and Farella says she agrees.

These claims, however, are false. Reuters found no evidence of the three COVID-19 vaccines skipping animal trials due to the animals dying or otherwise.

The FDA has so far authorized COVID-19 vaccines produced by three companies, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, for emergency use in the United States (here).

Emergency use authorization (EUA) in the U.S. has been issued as a result of the severity of the pandemic. When the pandemic is over, vaccine manufacturers will need to apply for full U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval (here).

A Pfizer media spokesperson told Reuters via email the claims are false, and linked to a Sept. 2020 press release about the effects of their mRNA vaccine in mice and non-human primates (here). They also pointed to a peer-reviewed Feb. 2021 paper on its vaccine working on primates (here).

Moderna has released similar information (here ,  here), as has Johnson & Johnson (here). 

An FDA spokesperson told Reuters via email that the claims that the vaccines had skipped animal trials due to animal death was untrue. None had significant safety issues to report in their respective animal trials, as seen under “5.3 Non-Clinical Studies” sections of the EUAs for Pfizer-BioNTech here , Moderna here and Johnson & Johnson here .

Due to time constraints and the urgency to find a vaccine for COVID-19, Moderna and Pfizer did receive approval to run animal testing and early trials on humans at the same time, as opposed to fully completing animal trials before moving on to human trials. This, however, does not mean animal trials were skipped or that the safety of the vaccines were compromised (here , here ,  here).

Reuters Fact Check has debunked false similar claims about the safety and trials of the COVID-19 vaccines approved by the FDA for emergency use here , here , here and here .

VERDICT

False. The COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson did not skip animal testing due to the animals dying.

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

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