FULL CLAIM: “COVID-19 is not a respiratory virus of any kind, it is actually venom poison, and they’re using, I believe, synthesized peptides and proteins of venoms of snakes and they’re administering them and targeting them to certain people [...] this is the most obvious bioweapon ever”; “The mRNA inside of the Moderna and Pfizer shot is actually derived from snake venom”; L-amino-acid oxidase (LAAO), which is found in the COVID-19 vaccine and snake venom, inhibits syncytium production and increases the risk of miscarriage by interfering with placenta development
Among some of the wildest claims about the origins of COVID-19 can be traced back to chiropractor Bryan Ardis, who in an April 2022 pseudodocumentary titled “Watch The Water”, falsely claimed that COVID-19 wasn’t caused by a virus, but by snake venom.
In May 2023, the Stew Peters Show published a sequel to “Watch The Water”, with Ardis claiming that the COVID-19 vaccines increased the risk of miscarriage due to the presence of L-amino-acid oxidase, which he claimed is also found in snake venom and that would interfere with placenta formation. Ardis made the same claim a few months earlier on the podcast “Unrestricted Truths with James Grundvig”, which was shared by other websites associated with health misinformation.
However, Ardis’ claims are false, as we will explain below. (Health Feedback also covered another of Ardis’ claims in a previous review.)
COVID-19 is caused by a virus; it’s not snake venom poisoning
Previous reviews by Health Feedback have explained how scientific evidence gathered in different laboratories around the world established that the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of COVID-19.
Ardis’ claim that snake venom is the cause of COVID-19 is based on a few studies he cited in “Watch The Water”, which according to him showed that “the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2 is most identical to Chinese krait and king cobra venom”.
However, a careful reading of the actual studies shows that they don’t support the claim. One of them reported finding peptides (short sequences of amino acids) in the urine, blood, and feces of COVID-19 patients that bore some similarities to certain toxins found in snake venom, but not that the spike protein “is most identical to” snake venom as Ardis claimed.
In their statement referring to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the authors cited a study by Cheng et al., which reported the presence of a segment in the spike protein resembling certain snake neurotoxins and postulated that this segment played a role in the development of severe COVID-19. This study also didn’t find that the spike protein “is most identical to” snake venom.
Another reported how certain toxins in the venom of some snakes could interact with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which are found in the nervous system, and how designing molecules resembling such receptors could help develop snakebite treatments. This study was published in July 2019, before the pandemic began, and was unrelated to COVID-19.
And the other was a study by researchers at the University of Arizona, which reported how high levels of an enzyme named secreted phospholipase A2 group IIA, which is produced by the human body in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, could increase the risk of severe disease and death. While the enzyme bears some similarities to a protein in snake venom, the protein in question here originated from the COVID-19 patients—not the SARS-CoV-2 virus or a vaccine—and the study didn’t involve snake venom in any way.
No evidence that COVID-19 vaccination increases the risk of miscarriage; COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain snake venom or L-amino-acid oxidase
In the sequel to “Watch The Water”, Ardis built on his earlier claims about snake venom and COVID-19, now asserting that L-amino-acid oxidase, which is present in snake venom, is also present in COVID-19 vaccines and increases the risk of miscarriage.
These claims are false and unsubstantiated by evidence. The ingredient lists for the COVID-19 vaccines are available on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, and they show that L-amino-acid oxidase isn’t present in the vaccines. No snake venom is present in the vaccines either.
COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at reducing the risk of severe disease and death, which is particularly important for pregnant women, who are at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19.
The scientific evidence shows that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination far outweigh the risks for pregnant women, as the list of studies gathered on the CDC website demonstrates. Studies so far have shown that vaccination doesn’t increase the risk of negative pregnancy outcomes, as previous reviews by Health Feedback explained (see here, here, and here).
Ardis’ unsubstantiated and misleading claim about how COVID-19 vaccination interferes with placenta formation isn’t new. Health Feedback debunked the claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause an autoimmune response against the human placental protein syncytin-1 here. And another review explained that it is COVID-19 that increases the risk of placental defects, and pregnant women who were vaccinated were less likely to experience various placental defects after contracting COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women get vaccinated against COVID-19.
In summary, the claims peddled by Ardis in “Watch The Water” are false and unsupported, with Ardis regularly misinterpreting the findings of scientific studies he cited. His claim that COVID-19 vaccines increase the risk of miscarriage is contradicted by published scientific studies, showing that vaccinated pregnant women don’t experience a higher risk of miscarriage compared to those who are unvaccinated. In fact, it is COVID-19—not the vaccines—that increases the risk of pregnancy complications, including miscarriage. Consequently, the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines outweigh their risks in pregnant women.
- 1 – Cheng et al. (2020) Superantigenic character of an insert unique to SARS-CoV-2 spike supported by skewed TCR repertoire in patients with hyperinflammation. PNAS.
- 2 – Albulescu et al. (2019) A Decoy-Receptor Approach Using Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Mimics Reveals Their Potential as Novel Therapeutics Against Neurotoxic Snakebite. Frontiers in Pharmacology.
- 3 – Snider et al. (2021) Group IIA secreted phospholipase A2 is associated with the pathobiology leading to COVID-19 mortality. Journal of Clinical Investigation.