No, COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain bacteria and HIV; the vaccines enhance the body’s ability to respond to pathogens, not reduce it
COVID-19 vaccination reduces the risk of infection and disease by training the ability of the immune system to respond to the virus SARS-CoV-2. After vaccination, different types of white blood cells expand in number, such as antibody-producing B cells, enabling the immune system to mount a protective response against the virus. COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain bacteria or HIV.
Factually inaccurate: COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain bacteria or HIV. They don’t reduce the body’s ability to generate new white blood cells either.
A video published on Facebook, showing a woman wearing a mask who claimed to be a “natural doctor”, alleged that the COVID-19 vaccines decreases our ability to produce white blood cells, and that the vaccine contains “81 strands of foreign bacteria” and “eight strands of HIV”.
Upon investigation, we found that the video originated from a Telegram channel called Disclosure Hub, which contains multiple posts about conspiracy theories and COVID-19 misinformation, and that the video’s original footage came from an interview published by digital media outlet Vice in October 2020, which was unrelated to COVID-19 vaccines. Rather, the subject of that interview was a pregnant physician’s experience working in the U.K. during the COVID-19 pandemic and how she felt that preparedness for the pandemic was inadequate.
We traced the audio in the Facebook video to another video published in November 2021 by the Canada-based group Together As One, which opposes public health measures like mask-wearing and vaccination. Thus, our findings indicate that the Disclosure Hub version was a manipulation of the original Vice video, in which the original audio was replaced with that of the video from Together As One, perhaps to make the false narrative presented by the Together As One video more visually compelling. The Disclosure Hub video was uploaded to the video sharing platform Bitchute, where it received more than 55,000 views.
Figure. The same shot from the Vice interview and the Disclosure Hub video. Note the different watermarks on the top-right hand corner. The audio from the Disclosure Hub video originated from this Together As One video.
The altered video published by Disclosure Hub contains multiple false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines; below are three key claims we address.
Claim 1 (Incorrect):
“The first vaccine [has] a bunch of ingredients that are very catastrophic to your cellular system. What that does to your immune system […] it decreases the ability to produce white blood cells by 50% from your first vaccine.”
There’s no evidence showing that the COVID-19 vaccines reduce the ability of the immune system to generate new white blood cells. In fact, multiple studies contradict this claim, showing that vaccination triggers the expansion of various types of white blood cells, such as antibody-producing B cells[1-3].
Claim 2 (Inaccurate):
“The booster has 81 strands of foreign bacteria”
“The second booster has eight strands of HIV”
There’s no evidence showing that COVID-19 vaccines contain bacteria or the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). A full list of ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines can be found here.
It’s unclear where the claim about HIV originated, but it may be a reference to a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed in Australia, which utilized a small part of a protein from HIV to improve the stability of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The development of that vaccine candidate was halted, after it was discovered that some of the trial participants had false-positive results on HIV tests, which detect antibodies against HIV. It’s important to keep in mind that the participants weren’t infected with HIV; they tested false-positive because the HIV tests detect antibodies against the virus, which the candidates developed due to the part of the HIV protein used in the vaccine candidate.
Claim 3 (Flawed reasoning):
“[O]nce they make you so that your immune system can’t make white blood cells anymore, you become dependent on the boosters to survive”
From an immunological standpoint, this claim doesn’t make sense. Vaccination induces protection by training a person’s immune system to fight against a disease-causing microorganism. If a person’s immune system was wiped out, as the individual claimed, boosters couldn’t induce protection, given that no immune cells would be present to effectuate that protection.
- 1 – Brewer et al. (2021) BNT162b2 vaccine induces divergent B cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 S1 and S2. Nature Immunology.
- 2 – Goel et al. (2021) Distinct antibody and memory B cell responses in SARS-CoV-2 naïve and recovered individuals after mRNA vaccination. Science Immunology.
- 3 – Guerrera et al. (2021) BNT162b2 vaccination induces durable SARS-CoV-2–specific T cells with a stem cell memory phenotype. Science Immunology.