FALSE: COVID-19 vaccines are experimental

At a glance
  • Claim: COVID-19 vaccines are still experimental.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: COVID-19 vaccines went through three phases of clinical testing before being approved by the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration.
  • Why we fact-checked this: This was posted on the "Fact-Checking in the Philippines" Facebook page for verification. At the time of writing, it has garnered over 63 reactions and 16 shares.
Complete details

The Facebook page “Coach Dave Aguila for President 2022” posted on June 23, 2021, that COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered were still experimental. At the time of writing, it has garnered over 63 reactions and 16 shares. The page itself is followed by more than 4,700 users.

The post was shared on the "Fact-Checking in the Philippines" Facebook page for verification.

This claim has also become a common talking point for right-wing political commentators in the United States opposing President Joe Biden’s proposal to begin door-to-door vaccination drives in at-risk communities.

This claim is false.

Prior to receiving validation from the World Health Organization (WHO) and national regulatory agencies, all vaccines must go through three phases of clinical testing. Clinical testing ensures the vaccines' safety for individuals with a wide range of conditions and its efficacy against the virus. These results are then peer-reviewed by independent scientists to ensure that the data is accurate.

Phase III tests and their application in the real world have proven that vaccines are highly effective in preventing infection and symptoms. Below are the published efficacies against symptomatic COVID-19 infection of all the approved vaccines in the Philippines:

Experts say that a widely used vaccine with 50% efficacy is enough to control the ongoing pandemic. Further, as of June 30, around 99% of individuals who died in the US as a result of COVID-19 infection were unvaccinated.

The WHO and other regulatory agencies continue to monitor the use of COVID-19 vaccines and respond to any safety issues in relation to these. This ensures that the vaccines are safe to use.

While there had been deaths linked to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, the WHO said on May 19 that its benefits continued to outweigh its risks. There have been deaths related to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, but the WHO has also said the risk of suffering a rare and severe blood clotting syndrome with the AstraZeneca vaccine is "very low."

Health experts worldwide are in agreement that, despite the risks with the COVID-19 vaccine, its benefits for the individual and society far outweigh its risks. – Jose Atienza/Rappler.com

Jose Atienza 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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