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Fact Check-Those vaccinated for COVID-19 are not shedding toxic spike proteins into water supply

Refiling to correct typo in paragraph two and headline.

A meme saying the urine of people vaccinated for COVID-19 is polluting the water supply and poisoning tadpoles with neurotoxins(chemicals that are toxic to the brain or nervous system) is false. The claim is based on an article that has not been subjected to peer-review. One of the authors says the paper has been taken out of context.

Examples of posts shared by users can be seen here and here and are captioned, "spike protein break down chemicals in water are neurotoxic to tadpoles. Spike protein is a toxin - making urine of recently vaccinated people a toxic waste entering the water supply. The recently vaccinated are literally walking bioweapons."

Previous fact checks by Reuters found coronavirus vaccines cannot “shed” or be passed from vaccinated to unvaccinated individuals (here), and debunked claims that vaccinated people are bioweapons or ‘ticking time bombs’ (here).

The website for the Centers and Disease Control Prevention (CDC) here says “vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body. Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus”. CDC.gov reports that “none of the vaccines authorized for use in the United States contain a live virus.”

Previous Reuters coverage addressing false claims on spike proteins can be seen here with health experts saying: “So far, there is no scientific evidence available that suggests spike proteins created in our bodies from the COVID-19 vaccines are toxic or damaging our organs.” (More on this here)

The claims base their arguments on a medical paper visible here titled, “An insight into neurotoxic and toxicity of spike fragments SARS-CoV-2 by exposure environment: A threat to aquatic health?”

One of its authors, Dr Guilherme Malafaia (here) shared his thoughts on the meme circulating online. He told Reuters via email: “I strongly disagree with the theory that tadpoles are contaminated/harmed by the urine of vaccinated people entering the water supply. In my opinion, this constitutes a misinterpretation of our [paper].”

He said the group studied the “effects of different peptides derived from the Spike protein of SARs-Cov-2 on tadpoles and “synthesized small fragments of the Spike protein and added them to the waters where the tadpoles were.”

These were not the spikes from vaccinated individuals, however. “As far as my knowledge goes, there is no scientific evidence that vaccinated people release fragments of the Spike protein in their urine or feces,” he said. “Our study, under no circumstances, makes any allusion to the fact that the Spike protein transforms urine of recently vaccinated people to toxic waste entering the water supply,” he added.

He said the paper had not been reviewed.

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines “contain only instructions for making spike protein and are incapable of generating virus particles, so nothing can be shed,” said Dr Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of the infectious diseases division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of the world’s top teaching hospitals and part of Harvard Medical School, in a statement emailed to Reuters for a fact check in April 2021 (here).

Likewise, the Johnson & Johnson (also referred to as Janssen) vaccine “is based on a replication-defective adenovirus, which means the adenovirus is incapable of reproducing,” he added.

More on this can be found published by The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia(here) and (here).

The World Heath Organizations answered questions on the effects of COVID-19 on wastewater and drinking water sources in a piece on environmental surveillance, here . Traces of the virus found in water systems can mean “that one or more people in the community likely excreted virus through urine, faeces or by coughing or sneezing.”

VERDICT

False. A study simulating the effects of SARs-CoV-2 on a water supply was misinterpreted and used in a meme. At this time, there is no scientific evidence that vaccinated people release fragments of the spike protein in their urine.

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

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