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Fact check: The COVID-19 vaccine is not an operating system designed to program humans

Social media posts have claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine is an “operating system” designed to program humans and hack their biological functions. This is false.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

Examples of this claim can be seen (here , here) and (here).

“DID YOU EVER WONDER WHY BILL GATES, A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER, BECAME THE EXPERT ON COVID-19?”, the post reads (here). “BECAUSE THE COVID-19 VACCINES ARE AN “OPERATING SYSTEM” DESIGNED TO PROGRAM HUMANS AND HACK THEIR BIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS.”

This is not true. These new vaccines are designed to create an immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

On its website, the pharmaceutical company Moderna, which has developed a COVID-19 vaccine, compares the mRNA science in its vaccine to an “operating system” (here). The phrase is used in a metaphorical sense, not a literal one.

According to Moderna, mRNA science is comparable to an operating system because it can be used to tackle multiple different diseases.

“Recognizing the broad potential of mRNA science, we set out to create an mRNA technology platform that functions very much like an operating system on a computer.

“It is designed so that it can plug and play interchangeably with different programs. In our case, the “program” or “app” is our mRNA drug - the unique mRNA sequence that codes for a protein.”

This is possible, Moderna explains, because the only thing that changes from one potential mRNA medicine to another is the genetic code that instructs ribosomes to make protein.

The Moderna vaccine works by inserting mRNA which tells human cells to produce a sequence of amino acids that forms a protein like the “spike protein” found on the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19. The mRNA is then destroyed (here).

The aim is for the immune system to recognise and eliminate this protein so that, if it encounters an intact SARS-CoV-2, it is prepared to target the same structure on the virus.

Reuters fact check has debunked claims that mRNA vaccines alter a person's DNA (here).

VERDICT

False. COVID-19 vaccines are designed to provoke an immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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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