FULL CLAIM: Humanity is being exposed to “constant, forcible gene editing mRNA vaccines”; mRNA vaccines are gene therapy; “this is a pandemic of the bioweaponization of the human organism. This is not public health, and Anthony Fauci is the architect of this genocide”; “these are premeditated acts of engineered pathogenicity where we are now allowing the human organism to become a bioweapons factory itself”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, several false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines have gone viral. One of these claims, which has been debunked on multiple occasions, like in this review by Health Feedback, is that vaccines based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology alter the DNA of the vaccinated person.
A recent example is a video published by The Stew Peters Show on 23 March 2022, in which David Martin, a financial analyst, made a series of claims about COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. In the video Martin claimed that mRNA vaccines alter the DNA of the vaccinated person, turning the body into a “bioweapons factory” by producing modified viruses. This isn’t the first time that Martin has made false claims about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines, as this Health Feedback review attests to.
None of these claims are supported by scientific evidence and in fact contradict the science, as we will explain below.
Claim 1 (Factually inaccurate): COVID-19 mRNA vaccines alter our DNA and are a form of gene therapy
In the video, Martin claimed that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are a form of gene editing, and that they modify the body to continuously produce the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Gene editing involves modifying the DNA sequence of an organism’s genome. However, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines cannot do this. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains on its website how mRNA vaccines work:
“mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) contain material from the virus that causes COVID-19 that gives our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus. After our cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine. Our bodies recognize that the protein should not be there and build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future.”
All the genetic material present in vaccines (mRNA) is eliminated from our body shortly after vaccination. According to the U.S. CDC, the mRNA in the vaccines lasts for a few days and the spike protein persists in the body for up to a few weeks after vaccination.
There are several reasons why mRNA in COVID-19 vaccines can’t modify our DNA, as explained in this review by Health Feedback. The main reason is because RNA is chemically different from DNA, preventing them from merging. Both reverse transcriptase and integrase enzymes would be required for that, but neither are present in the vaccines nor are they produced in human cells under normal circumstances. In addition, DNA is located in the cell nucleus, where mRNA from the vaccines can’t enter.
To support his claim that mRNA vaccines are a form of gene editing, Martin cited the Form 20-F that BioNTech filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2020, regarding the COVID-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech. In section “Risks Related to our Business,” Martin quoted the following excerpt:
“Although we expect to submit [biologics license applications] for our mRNA-based product candidates in the United States, and in the European Union, mRNA therapies have been classified as gene therapy medicinal products, and other jurisdictions may consider our mRNA-based product candidates to be new drugs, not biologics or gene therapy medicinal products, and require different marketing applications.”
This excerpt suggests that mRNA vaccines may fall within the category of mRNA therapies, which have been broadly classified as gene therapy in some jurisdictions, although it doesn’t provide further details on what regulatory agency considers mRNA vaccines to be a form of gene therapy.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), gene therapy is “a technique that modifies a person’s genes to treat or cure disease”. The U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute explains that gene therapy modifies “the genetic information of the cell of the patient that is responsible for a disease, and then [returns] that cell to normal conditions”.
In any event, as explained above, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines cannot modify the genes of the vaccinated person, so they neither meet the definition of gene therapy nor meet the criteria of the U.S. FDA to be considered as gene therapy.
The false claim that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines alter our DNA or are a form of gene therapy has also been previously debunked by several other articles, like this Forbes article, this fact-check by Reuters, and this article from the UK National Health Service.
Claim 2 (Factually inaccurate): Vaccines are turning human organisms into bioweapon factories
In the video Martin stated that “this is a pandemic of the bioweaponization of the human organism”, claiming that the bodies of vaccinated persons will produce pathogens subjected to the U.S. federal regulation for biological agents. He cited the Select Agents and Toxins List by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which includes the following entry:
“SARS-CoV/SARS-CoV-2 chimeric viruses resulting from any deliberate manipulation of SARS-CoV-2 to incorporate nucleic acids coding for SARS-CoV virulence factors”
A chimera is generally defined as an organism that comprises cells with more than one set of genetic material. For instance, human chimeras are made up of cells that carry genes from two or more individuals. In the same vein, a chimeric virus would contain genetic material from two or more viruses.
Based on the video, it isn’t clear if Martin’s argument is that the contents of the vaccine, after mixing with human DNA, form a chimeric organism, or if vaccines contain a chimeric virus. But in both cases, the claim is false. In the first case, this is because mRNA from the vaccines doesn’t integrate with human DNA, as previously explained.
In the second case, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines don’t contain genes or components that allow the mRNA to make more copies of itself. Genetic material in the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines don’t replicate, as explained in this fact-check by Reuters. Moreover, mRNA vaccines don’t contain the entire genome of SARS-CoV-2, but only the gene required for making the spike protein, as explained in the website of the U.S. CDC. Therefore, the vaccines cannot produce the full virus.
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines cannot alter human DNA or interfere with it. Gene therapy by definition requires a therapy to alter DNA, as such, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines cannot be considered gene therapy and don’t fit the U.S. FDA criteria for gene therapy. Furthermore, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines don’t contain chimeric viruses or produce chimeric organisms, so the claim that these vaccines turn the human body into “bioweapon factories” is baseless and false.