COVID-19 Fact Checks

FALSE: COVID-19 vaccine can modify DNA

Rappler
FALSE: COVID-19 vaccine can modify DNA
RNA vaccines cannot alter DNA. Studies say that mRNA vaccines are a safe vaccine format.
At a glance:
  • Claim: Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine can alter human DNA.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: RNA vaccines do not alter DNA. The messenger RNA from the vaccine is eventually destroyed by the body’s cells after they read its sequence.
  • Why we fact checked this: This was flagged by Facebook’s Claim Check tool as potentially misleading.
Complete details:

Osteopathic internal medicine physician Carrie Madej claims that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the biotechnology company Moderna can alter human DNA.

Madej made this claim in a video by the website “Stop World Control.” The video was posted on Facebook by user Robert Denis on November 19, 2020. This was flagged by Facebook’s Claim Check tool as potentially misleading.

This claim is false. RNA vaccines, which are the kind Moderna is developing, cannot alter DNA.

RNA vaccines work by providing the body with the genetic code it needs to produce antigens against a certain pathogen. When the antigen appears outside one’s cells, the body’s immune system attacks them and learns how to defeat similar antigens in the future.

Moderna’s vaccine introduces messenger RNA (mRNA) into the body. Cells in the body read the mRNA sequence to build spike proteins, similar to those that the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to enter human cells. The mRNA from the vaccine is eventually destroyed by the cell.

A March 2019 review article published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology about advances in mRNA vaccines said that they were “safe and tolerated in animal models and humans.” It did not warn against any potential harm to DNA.

A January 2018 review published in the journal Nature said that mRNA vaccines were “considered a relatively safe vaccine format” because the risk of infection or integration of the virus into the host cell DNA was not a concern. Manufacturing mRNA vaccines are also considered safer than manufacturing other vaccine platforms.

There is also no indication that Moderna’s vaccine will be administered using hyrdogels, as Madej claimed in the video. Reports by Moderna on their ongoing study clearly state that the vaccine is administered with two injections given 28 days apart.

Rappler has previously fact checked a similar claim that said Bill Gates admitted that the COVID-19 vaccine could permanently alter human DNA. This is also not true. – Vernise Tantuco/Rappler.com

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