Andrew Tate peddles debunked claim about COVID-19 vaccines being “experimental poison” in Piers Morgan interview

COVID-19 vaccines are “experimental poison”; COVID has gone away
Factually inaccurate: COVID-19 vaccines aren’t experimental, as they completed multiple phases of clinical trials that established their safety and effectiveness. They also don’t contain ingredients that are toxic. Contrary to Tate’s implication, COVID-19 isn’t “gone”. The disease is still around and several countries are experiencing a rise in cases and hospitalization in the winter of 2023.
Misrepresents source: The definition of a vaccine evolved to reflect the scientific progress that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines represent and to more accurately describe the process that gives rise to protection against disease, not as a cover-up for the imperfect protection from the vaccines.
COVID-19 cases have shown a tendency to peak during the winter. COVID-19 vaccines were initially highly effective against both infection and severe disease. The emergence of more infectious viral variants greatly diminished the vaccines’ effectiveness against infection, but the vaccines remain highly effective at protecting people from developing severe disease and death, which is their main purpose.

FULL CLAIM: “[I]njecting yourself with experimental poison for the ninth time”; “Let me ask you a question: where has Covid gone? Diseases don't go away.”; “If you get a vaccine, you do not get the disease. They changed the definition of vaccine in the dictionary so they can continue to inject us with this pointless poison.”


On 20 November 2023, English television presenter Piers Morgan interviewed prominent “manosphere” personality Andrew Tate on his show Piers Morgan Uncensored on various subjects, one of them being the COVID-19 pandemic. This isn’t the first time Morgan invited Tate onto his show. Tate appeared on other occasions, for instance, in November 2022.

During the interview, Tate made a few inaccurate claims about the COVID-19 vaccines, casting doubt over their safety and effectiveness. A Facebook reel containing these claims was posted on 6 December 2023, drawing more than 104,000 views.

Tate, who has been charged with human trafficking and rape by Romanian authorities, is well-known for his misogynistic remarks, which he encourages his following to share on social media. He has also incorrectly claimed depression “isn’t real” and that depression is “a choice”neither claim is true.

In the same vein, Tate’s claims about the COVID-19 vaccines simply rehash old, debunked vaccine misinformation. We explain below.

Claim 1 (Factually inaccurate):

“[I]njecting yourself with experimental poison for the ninth time”

This statement, referencing the COVID-19 vaccines, is a repetition of the false claim that COVID-19 vaccines are experimental. Previous reviews by Health Feedback and fact-checks from other groups have already debunked the claim.

As we explained before, the COVID-19 vaccines aren’t experimental as they completed clinical trials that assessed their safety and effectiveness before they were authorized for use in people.

While clinical trials for vaccines typically take years, those of the COVID-19 vaccines took between one to two years. Vaccine skeptics have exploited the accelerated timeline to imply that corners were cut and that COVID-19 vaccines weren’t adequately tested.

But this wasn’t the case, as it’s possible to accelerate the development timeline for a vaccine without compromising on the reliability or quality of the trials. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center explains that this was achieved by combining some clinical trial phases and by scaling up vaccine manufacturing capacity before Phase 3 trials were completed. Normally vaccine manufacturers would only do so after Phase 3 trials were completed, as doing so beforehand entails financial risk.

Another factor was the COVID-19 pandemic itself resulting in many cases accumulating, which enabled researchers to calculate vaccine efficacy quickly, something that wouldn’t have been possible if the disease hadn’t spread as rapidly as it did.

The COVID-19 vaccines aren’t “poison”. Product information sheets listing the ingredients of various COVID-19 vaccines can be found here. None of the ingredients are present in dangerous amounts.

Claim 2 (Misleading):

“Let me ask you a question: where has Covid gone? Diseases don’t go away.”

COVID-19 hasn’t “gone” in the sense that the disease hasn’t disappeared, despite Tate’s implication to the contrary. In contrast to the first two years of the pandemic, COVID-19 makes the headlines significantly less often. But that doesn’t mean the disease is no longer around. In fact, many countries around the world, including the U.S., Canada, France, and Singapore, are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations this winter.

Claim 3 (Factually inaccurate):

“If you get a vaccine, you do not get the disease. They changed the definition of vaccine in the dictionary so they can continue to inject us with this pointless poison.”

Here Tate rehashes an old, inaccurate claim that the definition of a vaccine was changed to cover up the fact that COVID-19 vaccines don’t work. At its core, this claim contains the false assumption that if a vaccine doesn’t work 100% of the time, then it doesn’t work at all (the nirvana fallacy).

This claim circulated in different forms towards the end of 2021 and early 2022. One was that Merriam-Webster, known as a publisher of dictionaries, changed the definition of the word “vaccine” by removing the word “immunity”, and that this was possibly motivated by “the fact that the COVID ‘vaccines’ don’t actually provide immunity”.

But as a USA Today fact-check reported, Merriam-Webster had simply replaced the word “immunity” with “immune response”. We can see this for ourselves by comparing the old definition with the new one thanks to web archives. Therefore, the fundamentals of the definition didn’t change.

It’s important to keep in mind that the words “vaccine” and “vaccination” were coined in the 18th century, more than 200 years ago. For a long time, the approach to making a vaccine tended to revolve around the conventional methods of using killed pathogens (e.g. inactivated polio vaccine), live but weakened pathogens (e.g. measles vaccine), or a particular protein or component produced by the pathogen (e.g. diphtheria vaccine).

But the development of mRNA vaccine technology—which delivers a segment of genetic material from the pathogen so that the relevant protein is made in the cells of the vaccinated individual—significantly shifted the way in which the words “vaccine” and “vaccination” can be used.

Thus Merriam-Webster added a new definition of the word “vaccine” to reflect this scientific advance represented by mRNA vaccine technology. This new definition reads “a preparation of genetic material (such as a strand of synthesized messenger RNA) that is used by the cells of the body to produce an antigenic substance (such as a fragment of virus spike protein)”.

Peter Sokolowski, the editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told USA Today that the company adds definitions and changes existing definitions in order “to accurately report on how words are used”.

Another iteration of the claim circulated after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its definition of a vaccine from “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease” to “a preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases”.

Some, including U.S. Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, implied that this was done to cover up the fact that COVID-19 vaccines aren’t 100% effective.

However, a CDC spokesperson told the Miami Herald that the previous definition could have been “interpreted to mean that vaccines were 100% effective, which has never been the case for any vaccine”. The spokesperson added that “the current definition is more transparent, and also describes the ways in which vaccines can be administered”.

Ryan Langlois, a virologist and professor at the University of Minnesota, told Associated Press that the update by the CDC added nuance following emerging vaccine developments such as mRNA technology.

Langlois acknowledged that “[i]t’s always difficult when a word is so entrenched but the technology is changing.” He added that using the word “immunity” can be misleading with any vaccine, as “it’s incredibly rare that that immunity is perfect”, but “people think if they’re immune it’s all or none”.

No vaccine is 100% effective, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work. As this article in The Conversation explains, even imperfect vaccines, like the rotavirus vaccine, still significantly improves public health outcomes.

COVID-19 vaccines were initially highly effective against both infection and severe disease, but the emergence of viral variants greatly diminished the vaccines’ effectiveness against infection. However, they remain highly effective at protecting people from developing severe disease and death, which is their main function.


Published on: 14 Dec 2023 | Editor:

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