Fact Check-Monkeypox is not an autoimmune blistering disease listed among the suspected adverse effects of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

Monkeypox is not an autoimmune blistering disease (ABD) and therefore it would not have been referenced when Pfizer released its list of suspected adverse reactions to its COVID-19 vaccine. Monkeypox is an infectious disease, not an ABD.

Social media users have claimed the two conditions are one and the same, further suggesting that the latest monkeypox outbreak is a side-effect of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine which is being covered up.

One Facebook user who shared a screenshot of a Pfizer list of suspected adverse reactions of interest to its COVID vaccine wrote: “They knew it… Monkey Pox, aka, Autoimmune Blistering Disease,” (here).

Pfizer’s list mentioned autoimmune blistering disease as a suspected side effect but made no mention of Monkeypox, which is not an ABD.

A Scottish television personality whose claims have been subject to numerous Reuters fact checks (here and here) wrote on Twitter (here “Autoimmune blistering disease. Now where have I seen this mentioned? Document dump... that was supposed to be in a waiting room for 75 years...”

The so-called “document dump” is analysis submitted by Pfizer as part of its Biological License Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (here) and has been addressed previously by Reuters Fact Check (here), which found that the listed “adverse events of special interest” are not confirmed side effects of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

In other tweets, McKeith referred to the virus as “#MoneyPox” (here) and shared a meme, within which the text reads: “EVEN THE MONKEYS CAN SEE THRU THIS BULLSHIT” (here).

Similar claims have been made on Twitter (here and here) and on Facebook (here, here and here).

Pfizer, in an emailed response to a request for comment from Reuters, said it could not verify the accuracy of claims and documents circulating on social media. “That said, monkeypox is not one of the listed known side effects of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any live virus and is completely synthetic. Furthermore, it does not shed any virus transmitting from human to human. With monkeypox, human-to-human transmission occurs through close contact with infectious material from skin lesions of an infected person, through respiratory droplets in prolonged face-to-face contact, and through fomites.”

Three experts told Reuters that monkeypox and ABDs are not the same - and therefore Pfizer was unlikely referring to monkeypox in its list of “adverse events of special interest” under ABDs.

Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases expert at Johns Hopkins University, told Reuters via email that monkeypox “is not an autoimmune disease, it is an infectious disease”.

He said: “Monkeypox is a well-known viral disease that causes much more than a rash e.g., lymph node swelling, fever, malaise, fatigue etc.”

The diagnosis of monkeypox is based on isolating the virus’ genetic material, therefore misdiagnosing it cannot occur “very easily”, Dr Adalja added, as the “diagnostic criteria require isolation of genetic material”.

Diagnosing ABDs, meanwhile, involves the detection of specific autoantibodies or an immune system protein (here).  

Adalja also explained that monkeypox is in no way related to COVID-19 vaccination.

Meanwhile, Dr Mike Skinner, a specialist in emerging viruses and zoonotic conditions at Imperial College London, told Reuters via email that monkeypox can be confirmed through a “monkeypox-virus-specific PCR test”.

Therefore, he added: “I don’t see how there can be any confusion when confirmed cases are reported”.

Finally, Professor Heidi Larson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told Reuters via email that “the virus origins of monkeypox are well-documented and there is absolutely no link to autoimmune blistering disease”.

Reuters has addressed monkeypox in another fact check (here), a Factbox article (here) and in explainers (here and here).


False. Pfizer was not referring to monkeypox when it listed ABD in its list of suspected adverse events because monkeypox is an infectious disease, not an autoimmune disease.

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