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Fact Check-Forbes headline that was updated for clarity continues to be taken out of context

Social media users pointed to a now-updated Forbes Health headline that was interpreted as meaning that the COVID-19 vaccine changes DNA. The author, Steven Salzberg, said he changed the headline for extra clarity in response to the criticism he received online from the initial title’s wording.

An Instagram post drawing attention to the original headline, which read, “Yes, The Vaccine Changes Your DNA. A Tiny Bit. That’s a Good Thing” is viewable here .

Additional examples of similar social media posts are visible here and here . The latter tweet reads, “#Breaking #BreakingNews #Forbes Magazine admits that the Cytotoxic injections being called “vaccines” DO change your DNA. After two YEARS of continual LYING and LYING and LYING by the Corrupt Criminal DemonicRats & non-elected Corrupt #Health Officials that it doesn’t.”

The original article tweeted by Forbes, with its original headline is observable archived here: archive.md/YRbmu .

The current version of the Forbes piece, which now bears an updated headline reading, “Covid Vaccines Don’t Alter Your DNA – They Help Choose Cells To Strengthen Your Immune Response,” can be seen here .

In response to a Reuters request for comment, Forbes contributor and the article’s author Steven Salzberg said due to “quite a lot of pushback very rapidly, on Twitter,” he changed the headline “within a few hours of posting it.” The writer told Reuters via email that the change resulted from “people misinterpreting or objecting to the headline.”

A tweet by Salzberg acknowledging the change is viewable here .

Salzberg told Reuters he wrote the article in an effort “to educate the public about science, focusing mostly on correcting misinformation and bad science.”

Salzberg, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University, (here) went on to explain in the email the intent of the titles, saying, “there is a long-term change in your body after vaccination or infection - this is obvious, right? That’s what immunity is.”

Salzberg told Reuters via email that the point his piece was trying to make was “that some of your immune cells multiply in large numbers to fight off the infection. Some of those cells stay around, which is what gives you immunity. The technical point I was trying to explain was that those cells have *slightly* different DNA from all your other cells. The changes in the DNA of those cells (which occur through a crazily complex process called VDJ recombination) occur *before* you’re vaccinated or infected.”

Salzberg said: “So the vaccine doesn’t cause the changes directly - but it does change the overall mixture of DNA in the cells in your body.”

According to CDC guidance on Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines (here), COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.

A YouTube explainer from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on COVID-19’s inability to change DNA can be seen here .

Reuters has also previously debunked claims regarding the COVID-19 vaccine’s ability to change human DNA. Articles by Reuters Fact Check are reviewable here , here , and here .

In an emailed response regarding the article, Forbes Health said the “November 29 story by Forbes Healthcare contributor Steven Salzberg has remained unchanged since it was published. The article states that COVID vaccines don’t alter your DNA and instead confirms what happens to human cells when the body is trying to protect itself from any infection. Salzberg also goes as far as combatting misinformation about the COVID vaccine changing human DNA.”

The Forbes representative added: “This is a fact-based piece about what actually happens to the human body after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The headline, which was intended to be witty, was misinterpreted by users on social media. The headline was changed shortly after publication to accurately reflect the research in the story. The tweet, however, which was posted autonomously through our scheduling software, was not updated.”

VERDICT

Missing context. A Forbes Health article was published with the headline “Yes, The Vaccine Changes Your DNA. A Tiny Bit. That’s a Good Thing” but it was changed to “Covid Vaccines Don’t Alter Your DNA – They Help Choose Cells To Strengthen Your Immune Response,” shortly after it was misrepresented online. COVID-19 vaccines do not alter DNA.

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

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