Why Alex Jones’ claim on Infowars that COVID-19 vaccines cause meat allergy is baseless

“Moderna and Pfizer shots have a bovine protein in them that then creates an autoimmune response in those that take the shot so that many of them can no longer eat beef”
Flawed reasoning: The video cites as evidence a list of ingredients in certain vaccines that are of animal origin and could trigger an allergic reaction in people with alpha-gal syndrome (AGS). AGS is a condition that can result in meat allergy because alpha-gal is a component of animal products, including meat. However, the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines aren’t among vaccines that contain animal-derived ingredients, and therefore wouldn’t contain alpha-gal and cause an allergic reaction in people with AGS.
Fails to grasp significance of observation: Neither of the case reports cited in the video had anything to do with meat allergy developing in people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. One report was about shingles in a person who received a COVID-19 booster dose, while the other was about an allergic reaction following receipt of the shingles vaccine.
Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) is a condition where people develop an allergic reaction to products containing the sugar molecule alpha-gal (galactose-α-1,3-galactose). Alpha-gal is present in animal-derived products, including red meat, milk, and ingredients of animal origin in certain vaccines, like gelatin or bovine serum. However, mRNA COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain animal products, therefore they don’t carry the risk of causing allergic reactions in people with AGS nor would they be expected to cause a meat allergy.

FULL CLAIM: “Moderna and Pfizer shots have a bovine protein in them that then creates an autoimmune response in those that take the shot so that many of them can no longer eat beef”


In a video from August 2023, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and InfoWars employee Rob Dew claimed that the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines contain a bovine protein called alpha-gal that “creates an autoimmune response in those that take the shot so that many of them can no longer eat beef”.

Jones’ content was banned from several social media platforms in 2018 for disseminating hate speech. However, he continues to spread disinformation via his website Infowars, which Media Bias/Fact Check deems to be of very low credibility. Jones also received a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning in 2020 for selling fake COVID-19 cures on his website. More recently, Jones, who has falsely claimed the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, has been ordered to pay hundreds of millions in damages to the families of eight victims of the shooting.

True to form, Jones and Dew’s claim that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines cause meat allergy is yet another baseless allegation, as we will explain below.

To set the record straight, alpha-gal is not a protein. It’s the short name for a sugar molecule called galactose-α-1,3-galactose.

Alpha-gal is present in all mammals, except apes and humans. Therefore humans don’t have this sugar in their body but are exposed to it everytime they eat products derived from mammals, like milk or red meat.

For reasons not well understood, some people are allergic to alpha-gal. Thus, getting exposed to it can cause health issues, ranging from mild discomfort to deadly allergic reactions. This is called alpha-gal syndrome, or AGS for short. Since alpha-gal is present in meat, people with AGS can develop an allergic reaction if they consume meat

The number of people with AGS isn’t precisely known because of low public and professional awareness. But a study by the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 30% of people tested over a period of five years had molecular markers indicating hypersensitivity to alpha-gal[1]. Thus, not everybody who gets exposed to alpha-gal develops an allergic reaction, only people with AGS do.

To support their claim, Jones and Dew cited a CDC webpage and case reports. But a closer look at their “evidence” for the claim is sufficient to show their argument doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

Firstly, they cited a page from the CDC website warning that some vaccines “may contain small amounts of alpha-gal-containing additives, stabilizers, or coatings”. In particular, the CDC listed gelatin, glycerin, magnesium stearate, and bovine extract as possibly containing alpha-gal. The CDC provided a list of vaccines containing these ingredients.

However, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain any ingredients of animal origin. Since the alpha-gal present in some vaccines comes from animal products, the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines also don’t contain alpha-gal and therefore wouldn’t be able to cause an allergic reaction in people with AGS.

Secondly, Jones and Dew connected unrelated information together to imply that COVID-19 vaccines led recipients to receive an alpha-gal-containing zoster virus. They cited a case report of one person diagnosed with herpes zoster, also known as shingles, after receiving a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster[2] to claim that “one other thing you do get from the COVID vaccine as a side effect is herpes zoster virus”. Shingles is caused by a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) in a previously infected person and most commonly occurs in those aged 50 and above. VZV is also responsible for chickenpox, a common childhood illness.

On top of this, they cited another case report where a zoster vaccine, which contains gelatin and thus could contain alpha-gal, caused an anaphylactic reaction in a person with AGS[3].

However, this reasoning is full of unproven assumptions and gaps in logics. mRNA COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain viruses and so cannot transmit the varicella-zoster virus in the first place, as we explained in an earlier review.

One hypothesis that might explain cases of herpes zoster after vaccination is that vaccination can cause a reactivation of the zoster virus already present in the body of some people. This hypothesis has yet to be proven, but even if it were true, it still doesn’t mean the COVID-19 vaccine was responsible for infecting the recipient with VZV. Shingles can only occur in someone who was previously infected by VZV.

In short, neither of the case reports actually furnish evidence for Jones and Dew’s claim, since they don’t show mRNA COVID-19 vaccines causing AGS or meat allergy in people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The case report documenting an allergic reaction in a person with AGS involved the shingles vaccine, not the COVID-19 vaccine. And the other case report didn’t document meat allergy in a person who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine booster, but shingles instead.

In summary, Alex Jones connected various pieces of unrelated information, creating an ultimately baseless claim that misleads his viewership. While the CDC did acknowledge that some vaccines may contain the animal-derived alpha-gal molecule that can cause allergic reactions in some people, mRNA COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain animal products and therefore wouldn’t cause an allergic reaction to alpha-gal. To date, millions of people have been vaccinated worldwide and no meat allergy crisis has been reported.



Published on: 11 Aug 2023 | Editor:

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