Fact check: The mRNA coronavirus vaccine is a vaccine, and it is designed to prevent illness

A video shared on social media has claimed that the mRNA coronavirus vaccine is not actually a vaccine, but a “device” designed to make people sick. This is false.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The video, which has been viewed more than 11,000 times on YouTube, can be seen (here).

In it a man referred to as “Dr David Martin”, who has been linked to previous misinformation about the pandemic (here , here) is seen speaking on a video call.

In the clip, Martin claims that the vaccine is not actually a vaccine, but a “medical device” that makes people sick.

“This is not a vaccine. This is a mRNA packaged in a fat envelope that is delivered to a cell. It is a medical device designed to stimulate the human cell into becoming a pathogen creator” (timecode – 00:19), Martin says.

“You are getting injected with a chemical substance to induce illness, not to induce an immuno-transmissive response, in other words nothing about this is going to stop you from transmitting anything. This is about getting you sick and having your own cells be the thing that gets you sick” (timecode – 5:20).

While there are different types of vaccine, they broadly have the same definition.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a vaccine as a product that stimulates the immune system into producing immunity to a disease, and protects the person from that disease (here).

This is how mRNA coronavirus vaccines work, but in a different way than has been seen before.

While earlier vaccinations used a weakened or inactivated form of a virus, mRNA vaccines instruct cells to make a specific protein to trigger an immune response (here).

These vaccines have been found to prevent symptomatic and severe effects of COVID-19 (here).

Research is ongoing to determine whether the vaccines have an effect on transmission.

However, data analysis in a pre-published study by the Israeli Health Ministry and Pfizer Inc, which is not yet peer reviewed, found the Pfizer mRNA vaccine reduces infection, including in asymptomatic cases, by 89.4% and in symptomatic cases by 93.7% (here).

Reuters has debunked false claims about vaccine safety (here) and (here).


False. mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are designed to induce an immune response and to protect a person against the disease.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here.