COVID-19 Fact Checks

FALSE: COVID-19 mRNA vaccine ‘not a vaccine against coronavirus’

FALSE: COVID-19 mRNA vaccine ‘not a vaccine against coronavirus’
Although mRNA vaccines work differently from traditional vaccines, various studies have shown that they are effective against COVID-19 infection. Health experts also say mRNA vaccines are safe.
At a glance
  • Claim: COVID-19 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are not real vaccines against the novel coronavirus.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: Although mRNA vaccines work differently than traditional vaccines, various studies showed that they are effective against the coronavirus disease or COVID-19. Health experts also say mRNA vaccines are safe.
  • Why we fact-checked this: A reader sent to Rappler for verification a list of claims on vaccines including this.
Complete details

A list of claims about vaccines circulating on messaging apps and social media falsely states that messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines developed to prevent COVID-19 infection are not real vaccines against coronavirus because it is different from traditional vaccines.

“THE CORONAVIRUS VACCINE IS NOT A VACCINE! WARNING ! What has always been a vaccine? It was always the pathogen itself (a microbe or a virus which was killed or attenuated), that is to say weakened, and it was introduced into the body to produce antibodies,” the list says.

It claims that mRNA vaccines “reprograms normal RNA/DNA” found inside the human body.

A reader sent a copy of the list to Rappler for verification.

This claim is false.

Although mRNA vaccines work differently from traditional vaccines, various studies have shown that they are effective against COVID-19.

“The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19,” the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says on its official website.

The mRNA technology is a new type of vaccine. “MRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein – or even just a piece of a protein – that triggers an immune response inside our bodies,” the CDC adds.

Vaccines created by Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna are the only mRNA vaccines among the COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use as of Monday, May 10. There are six vaccine brands approved as of writing.

Clinical trials of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine have shown that it is 91.3% effective against COVID-19 infection, while Moderna has 94.1% efficacy at preventing COVID-19 illness after two doses.

A real-world US study released on March 29 also showed both Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to be highly effective against COVID-19 and that they reduced the risk of infection by 80% two weeks or more after the first of two shots.

On its official website, the WHO says mRNA vaccines are safe because they have been studied for over a decade: “These mRNA vaccines have been rigorously assessed for safety, and clinical trials have shown that they provide a long-lasting immune response. mRNA vaccines are not live virus vaccines and do not interfere with human DNA.”

Rappler previously debunked a related claim that mRNA vaccines could modify human DNA.

On April 23, Agence France-Presse fact-checked the first statement in the circulating list that said the US Supreme Court had overturned its decision on mandatory vaccination. This was also proven false. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.