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Fact Check-Isle of Man politician’s comments about Omicron misinterpreted and falsely linked to antibody-dependent enhancement theory

Social media users are sharing a clip of Isle of Man Government Chief Minister Alfred Cannon speaking about the Omicron variant and falsely claiming that he confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccines caused antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), a process under which antibodies, rather than offering protection against viruses, can enhance their entry and replication.

An example can be seen here .

The caption in the post reads: “First i’ll say this guy laughed but i don’t think this is funny. This was warned about early on by many Virologists, Scientists, Doctors, and Experts who were censored, slandered, and canceled for speaking about it. Antibody-dependent Enhancement (ADE) Besides a small demographic of those that needed or wanted the vaccine natural acquired immunity was and is the answer”

The clip shows Cannon saying: “There is still much we do not know about the Omicron variant. The most crucial is that question about how effective the vaccine will be in offering us protection. The greatest concern is that the virus has mutated to such an extent that our immune systems trained by the vaccine no longer recognize the virus and no longer trigger an immune response. This sort of variant is known as vaccine escape...”

The clip is from an Isle of Man government COVID-19 briefing that took place on Nov. 28, 2021 and visible here . The clip shown in the post begins at the 8:45 mark.

Escape variants are those that elude the targeted immune response brought about by vaccination (here).

Cannon does not speak about antibody dependent enhancement or anything similar in the clip or the entire speech. He is merely postulating that the COVID-19 vaccine might not be effective against the Omicron variant of the virus.

In fact, at the 13:30 mark, Cannon says: “I must say to you and once again emphasize that vaccines and the booster program are providing our best defense against the virus.”

While ADE was a concern initially contemplated by scientists creating COVID-19 vaccines (here ), there have been no signs of cases happening during clinical trials or the roll-out (here , here and here ).

Reuters Fact Check has previously debunked claims of the vaccines causing antibody dependent enhancement, here .

Peter Boxer, a spokesperson for Cannon, told Reuters via email that Cannon was in no way suggesting the variant would evade the COVID-19 vaccines.

“He was expressing the fact that there is “still so much we do not know” about the variant and was expressing one concern in this period of uncertainty as to whether (or not) the vaccines would continue to offer protection,” Boxer said. “The Chief Minister is a strong advocate of the current vaccines and is proud of the high levels of uptake among our population.”

VERDICT

False. Isle of Man Government Chief Minister Alfred Cannon did not say that the COVID-19 vaccines have caused antibody dependent enhancement.

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

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