COVID-19 Fact Checks

FALSE: COVID-19 vaccines contain toxic preservatives

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FALSE: COVID-19 vaccines contain toxic preservatives
The vaccines do not contain harmful metal-based preservatives, according to the ingredients lists released by vaccine manufacturers
At a glance
  • Claim: Vaccines against COVID-19 are filled with toxic preservatives.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: The vaccines do not contain harmful metal-based preservatives, according to the ingredients lists released by vaccine manufacturers.
  • Why we fact-checked this: The message was sent to Rappler for verification through Facebook Messenger. 
Complete details

Dr. Jose M. Oclarit, who identifies himself as a molecular biology expert, claimed that vaccines against COVID-19 – like those from Pfizer, Moderna, and Sinovac – are filled with metal-based, toxic preservatives that makes people sick.

Oclarit also made a number of claims that Rappler or other reliable sources of information previously debunked, such as that 5G networks are connected to COVID-19 vaccine, that the vaccines can alter DNA, and that supplements and steam inhalation or tuob are enough to counteract the virus.

Oclarit’s claim was sent to Rappler for verification via Facebook Messenger. The Facebook user who sent it said it was sent to her by relatives.

The claim that the vaccines contain harmful preservatives is false.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed the ingredients of the vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen Pharmaceuticals). Aside from the active ingredients, which are the actual genetic materials used to train our bodies to fight the virus, the ingredients contain different types of fats and oils, acids and stabilizers, salts, and sugars.

The CDC also states: “None of the vaccines contain eggs, gelatin, latex, or preservatives. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, rare earth alloys or any manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, or nanowire semiconductors.”

Dr. Paul Offit of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia explained that the mRNA vaccines do not contain any of the traditional metal-based preservatives such as thimerosal. The University of Cincinnati Health also said that most of the non-active ingredients on the list are used to stabilize the COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the World Health Organization’s regional office in Europe, Sinovac’s ingredients include an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) as the active ingredient, aluminum hydroxide as the adjuvant, and disodium hydrogen phosphate, sodium dihydrogen phosphate, sodium chloride, and water. An adjuvant helps create a stronger immune response in the people receiving the vaccine and aluminum has been used safely in vaccines for over 70 years.

Various reputable health experts and organizations from all across the globe have deemed the vaccines safe and effective against the COVID-19 virus.

The University of Alabama at Bermingham highlights the importance of getting the vaccine, saying: “Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus…but these measures are not enough. Vaccines work with your immune system, so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.”

Oclarit has been fact-checked by Vera Files for claiming that the mRNA vaccines are “toxic” to organs, and by Rappler for claiming that RT-PCR tests made use of a universal primer for coronaviruses which leads to false positives stemming from ordinary flu symptoms. – Peter Golo/

Peter Golo is a Rappler intern. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s internship program here.

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