Fact check: Vaccines are tested and COVID-19 is a real disease

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

A video showing an LED display featuring a series of misleading claims around the COVID-19 pandemic is being shared online. False information featured includes the suggestion that COVID-19 vaccines are untested, that vaccines cause autism and that “COVID is a psychological operation to collapse the world economy.” Other claims made in the video are outside the scope of this check.

The video, filmed in Ireland, (here), shows the LED display with the message: “untested COVID vaccine has ‘significant side effects’”. It is unclear how it would be possible to know that a vaccine had significant side effects without testing; however, the two vaccines which were available in Ireland at the time that video was released, by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, have been tested on tens of thousands of people and were found to be safe and effective (here and here).

The video later shows the message: “Vaccines cause autism” (here Timestamp 0.44).   This myth has been widespread since a now-retracted Lancet article (here) was published in 1998, claiming that there was a link between the MMR vaccine and developmental disorders in children. Multiple subsequent studies failed to replicate that paper's findings (here and here) and the study’s lead author was later found guilty by the UK General Medical Council of “dishonesty and flouting ethics protocols” (here) and is banned from practising medicine in the UK (here).

Studies since show that vaccines do not cause autism and there is no higher incidence of autism in vaccinated children compared to unvaccinated children (here and here and here and links under ‘is the vaccine safe?” here ). The US Centers for Disease Control (here), the UK National Health Service (here) and the World Health Organization (here) have all said that no links between autism and vaccines have been established.

The video also displays the phrase: “COVID is a psychological operation to collapse the world economy” (here). Reuters has debunked similar claims before (here , here , here and here ).

More than 100 million people have been effected by the COVID-19 outbreak (here) which has led to more than two million deaths. The virus that causes COVID-19 has been proven to exist independently in different countries (Examples: China here, South Korea here, Canada here, and Italy here) and the genetic sequences for different strains of the virus sequenced in different countries are readily available online.


False. Vaccines have been tested and shown to be safe and effective. Vaccines do not cause autism. COVID-19 is a real disease, and the virus that causes it has been independently proven to exist in different countries.

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