COVID-19 Vaccine To Alter DNA? 5 False Claims Viral Online
While the much-awaited coronavirus vaccine is almost here, it is vital to build public trust.
As the world was on track to develop and distribute a vaccine for COVID-19, online conspiracy theories started putting doubts in people’s minds about the risks associated with the same.
A recent Johns Hopkins University study of 67 countries found that vaccine acceptance declined significantly in most countries from July to October this year.
India, thankfully, does not have a coordinated anti-vaccination movement like the West. But, while the much-awaited vaccine is almost here, it is vital to build public trust.
Here are five vaccine misinformation stories that are already viral.
1. MISINFORMATION: THE RNA VACCINES WILL ALTER THE HUMAN DNA
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates use mRNA, which is a new and unproven technology. Still, experts say they offer an easier and faster way to produce vaccines compared to traditional vaccines.
The technology uses a genetic platform called mRNA, short for messenger RNA, which directs the body’s cells to stimulate the immune system and generate an immune response against a virus.
Since the technology is new, there are possible side effects, but, no, modifying DNA is not one of them.
2.MISINFORMATION: VACCINE CONTAINS ABORTED MALE FOETUS
The Oxford-AztraZeneca vaccine candidate is manufactured using a HEK-293 producer cell line, which stands for Human Embryonic Kidney 293 TREX cells.
While the original cells were taken from the kidney of an aborted foetus in 1973, the cells used nowadays are clones of those original cells and not the cells of aborted babies.
3.MISINFORMATION: THE METALS USED IN THE VACCINE WILL CREATE ANTENNAS IN THE BODY FOR THE 5G TECHNOLOGY
Claims around 5G causing COVID-19 have been circulating since the WHO labelled the disease as a pandemic in March. The Quint has reported on how these claims were baseless and lacked scientific evidence.
The claim about vaccine containing metal chips is also false. The claim perhaps stems from a report that said that the US Department of Defence had awarded a contract to develop COVID-19 vaccine syringes with RFID/NFC chips.
The chips are not inside the vaccine but only in the syringes to provide health administrators with the details of the area where the vaccine was being administered. So no, your body will not turn into walking antennas.
4. MISINFORMATION: BILL GATES SAID COVID-19 VACCINE COULD KILL NEARLY A MILLION PEOPLE
Bill Gates has spearheaded the plan for a vaccine for COVID-19 and has committed more than 300 million dollars to novel coronavirus response efforts. However, that has put him at the centre of a barrage of COVID-19 misinformation, most publicised by anti-vaccination groups.
This false claim originated from a video interview of Bill Gates from May 2020. In the clipped viral video, Gates was actually talking about vaccine safety and the potential for side effects and gave a hypothetical figure to illustrate the number of people who could possibly be affected by them worldwide.
5. MISINFORMATION: COVID-19 RECOVERY RATE IS VERY HIGH, SO WE DON'T NEED A VACCINE
After the vaccine candidates came out with their efficacy rates, a claim went viral that since the recovery rates in some countries are higher than the efficacy rates, we don't need a vaccine.
Cricketer Harbhajan Singh added fuel to the fire when he tweeted the same message that was liked and shared by thousands of his followers.
Although India's recovery rate is high, it does not mean that India will not require a vaccine. COVID-19 has resulted in the deaths of at least 1,39,000 people in the country as of reporting for this story. Vaccinating the population will make sure that people are not exposed to the virus, thus, preventing hospitalisations and death.
Social media giants like Facebook and YouTube are doing their part in trying to curb misinformation by banning anti-vaccination ads and content.
Indians have been in favour of mass-vaccinations, which lead to the eradication of smallpox and polio in the country. But with the massive amounts of unfiltered content available on the internet, we will need louder pro-vaccination voices to be able to reach the masses.
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