Social media users have been sharing posts online that claim the novel coronavirus (implying COVID-19) is incorporated into the seasonal influenza vaccine. One post goes further and reads, “The flu vaccine has been biologically weaponized to cause coronavirus.” This claim is false.
Some of the claims are accompanied by photographs of patents or documents that use the term “coronavirus” mistaking it to imply COVID-19, the illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2, the new strain of coronavirus. The users point to medical articles or news related to past papers and studies on vaccine developments for past coronaviruses caused by the strain SARS-CoV, also known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. They suggest these refer to COVID-19. An example can be seen here ( bit.ly/2X7tDTI ).
There is no evidence to suggest that the influenza vaccine contains the novel coronavirus or causes COVID-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains on its website: “This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.” ( here )
The influenza vaccine has been used for many years and does not contain any coronavirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains the contents of the influenza vaccine on its website ( here ). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also lists common vaccine ingredients on its website ( here ). The Vaccine Knowledge Project (VKP) managed by the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford provides a list of vaccine ingredients ( here ).
None of these recognized institutions mentions the presence of coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 amongst vaccine ingredients. Vaccines include parts of a virus or bacteria to trigger an immune response from the body. Given that the flu and the coronavirus are entirely different families of diseases, there would be no scientific reason for even an inactivated pathogen of SARS-CoV-2 to be present in an influenza vaccine.
In terms of correlation between getting the flu shot and COVID-19, the CDC explains: “There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases the risk of getting COVID-19. There are many benefits from flu vaccination and preventing flu is always important, but in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more important to do everything possible to reduce illnesses and preserve scarce health care resources.”
This claim is false. The influenza vaccine does not contain SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .