Contrary to claims on social media, COVID-19 vaccines using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology do not transform recipients from humans into “hybrids,” nor do they alter human DNA through nanotechnology. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use a new 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.
The false posts show an alleged “realist portrayal of what is occurring in (a vaccinated person’s) body as we speak” and claim that recipients “are now technically no longer human. They are now hybrids. I’ll give you a hint. Nanotechnology. It spreads itself throughout the body altering the dna & reeking [sic] havoc on the entire system. There is no way to detoxify or remove it from the body. It’s forever.”
Both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines use new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which contains instructions for human cells to make proteins that mimic part of the novel coronavirus. The instructions spur the immune system into action, turning the body into a virus-zapping vaccine factory. No actual virus is contained in the vaccines (here).
IS THIS A “REALIST PORTRAYAL” OF MRNA VACCINES ENTERING THE BODY?
The “realist portrayal” in question does not show a mRNA vaccine interacting with human DNA. The picture in question is a stock image of a 3D illustration described here as “Medical concept in the field of nanotechnology. Genetic engineering and the use of nanorobots to replace part of the DNA molecule.”
As explained by the U.S. online newspaper Tech Crunch, here , DNA nanobots like the one rendered above have been shown to potentially cure cancer in mice “by seeking out and injecting cancerous tumors with drugs that can cut off their blood supply, shriveling them up and killing them.” Further reading on the science behind robotic DNA nanostructures is available here .
The mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, however, do not use nanorobotic technology. Reuters Fact Check previously debunked claims that the presence of lipid nanoparticles in a COVID-19 vaccine means it could contain small robots or computers, here .
The term “nano,” is simply a unit of size, referring to science conducted at the nanoscale of about 1 to 100 nanometers (here). Similarly, the general definition of “nanoparticle” is a small particle that is between 1 and 100 nanometers in size.
In the context of mRNA vaccines, “nanoparticle” refers to a tiny lipid droplet that carries the vaccine component. Lipids are substances that are not soluble in water, like fats. These mRNA vaccines use a chemical messenger to instruct cells to make proteins that mimic the outer surface of the new coronavirus, thereby creating immunity ( here , here ).
DO MRNA VACCINES TURN HUMANS INTO HYBRIDS BY ALTERING THEIR DNA?
The posts falsely claim that those vaccinated with mRNA vaccines are “no longer human” but rather “hybrids” because the vaccines’ “nanotechnology… spreads itself throughout the body altering the dna & reeking [sic] havoc on the entire system.”
As explained here in a previous Reuters fact check, mRNA vaccines do not alter the recipient’s DNA.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), such vaccines involve “the direct introduction into appropriate tissues of a plasmid containing the DNA sequence encoding the antigen(s) against which an immune response is sought, and relies on the in situ production of the target antigen” (here).
This means that, in contrast to the more widespread “conventional” vaccines (here) which use a whole pathogen or fragment, a mRNA vaccine involves the injection of a small part of the virus’s genetic code (DNA or RNA) to stimulate immune response in a patient without an infection (here).
This process does not create a genetically modified organism, which the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines as “an organism in which one or more genes (called transgenes) have been introduced into its genetic material from another organism using recombinant DNA technology” (here).
Mark Lynas, a visiting fellow at Cornell University’s Alliance for Science group (here), previously told Reuters that no vaccine can genetically modify human DNA. “That’s just a myth, one often spread intentionally by anti-vaccination activists to deliberately generate confusion and mistrust,” he said.
“Genetic modification would involve the deliberate insertion of foreign DNA into the nucleus of a human cell, and vaccines simply don’t do that.”
DOES MRNA STAY IN THE BODY FOREVER?
The posts’ claim that the vaccine’s mRNA remains in the body “forever” is false. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the immune cells, the cells use them to make the protein piece. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them” (here).
As explained here by Quartz, mRNA vaccines “never touch our DNA, and as a result can’t interfere with human genes. Instead, they just borrow some of our cellular tools before harmlessly breaking down.”
In January, Reuters Fact Check debunked claims that genetic materials from mRNA vaccines multiply in one’s body forever (here )
False. COVID-19 vaccines using mRNA technology do not turn humans into “hybrids,” or alter recipients’ DNA, or remain in the body “forever.”
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .
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