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mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 don’t modify humans, and don’t make them patentable or owned by any entities

Posted on:  2022-11-15

Key takeaway

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe disease. These vaccines don’t alter the human genome. U.S. law prohibits the patenting of human beings.

Reviewed content


“if a human is injected with a GMO it becomes a patented piece of property from the government”, “they take away all your rights with mRNAs”

Source: Instagram, TikTok, Instagram users, 2022-11-14

Verdict detail

Factually inaccurate: U.S. law prohibits the patenting of human beings. Furthermore, mRNA vaccines don’t modify the human genome.
Inadequate support: The 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibits the patentability of naturally occurring human genes. This ruling was totally unrelated to the use of mRNA vaccines into humans.

Full Claim

“if a human is injected with a GMO it becomes a patented piece of property from the government”, “they take away all your rights with mRNAs”


mRNA vaccines were widely used for the first time during the mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19. Traditional vaccine technologies use viral proteins or entire weakened or killed viruses to generate immunity. By contrast, mRNA vaccines contain the genetic information to produce those compounds, specifically the spike protein in the case of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, and it’s our own cells that will be in charge of that production.

Understandably, the novelty of the technique stirred up safety concerns in many people. However, mRNA vaccines have actually been a long time in the making and are safe. Yet, baseless claims about mRNA vaccine safety, such as the claim that mRNA vaccines modify our DNA, keep circulating on the internet.

One variation of this claim is that people who received an mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 are now genetically modified and will be owned by companies or the government under patent laws. For example, a video posted on Instagram in November 2022 showed someone claiming that, according to a 2013 U.S Supreme Court decision, “if a human is injected with a GMO it becomes a patented piece of property from the government”. To which another person replied, “they take away all your rights with mRNAs”. Based on other copies of the video posted on social media, the video is a fairly old one that dates back to at least August 2021.

However, this claim is inaccurate and has been debunked on several occasions. As stated, this claim is inconsistent with any U.S. Supreme Court decision or patent laws and would actually violate existing U.S. laws, as we’ll explain below.

Firstly, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 prohibits patent claims “directed to or encompassing a human organism” in its section 33. Therefore, humans cannot be patented. As Jorge Contreras, a professor of law at the University of Utah told the Australian Associated Press: “Just because a patented substance is injected into a person, that does not, under even the wildest interpretation of patent law, mean that the person somehow becomes ‘patented’.”

Second, the 2013 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t concern mRNA vaccines. The judgment was in fact related to patent claims by the company Myriad Genetics. In 1994, Myriad Genetics identified two human genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, whose mutations are strongly associated with an elevated risk of breast cancer and patented the two genes. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Myriad Genetics could patent artificial, synthetic, genetic fragments of these genes, but couldn’t patent the naturally occurring gene from the human genome.

Finally, mRNA vaccines don’t alter our DNA. This recurring false claim, dating back to the start of the vaccination campaign, isn’t supported by any scientific evidence, as Health Feedback previously explained. These vaccines introduce mRNA templates in our cells necessary to produce the spike protein from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Both the mRNA template and the spike protein are short-lived and neither the mRNA nor the spike protein can modify our genome.

In summary, the claim that mRNA vaccines will render vaccinated individuals patentable and the property of corporations or the government has no legal basis, despite the impression given by some social media users. The claim is founded on false information about the way the mRNA vaccines work and misrepresentation of a 2013 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. mRNA vaccines don’t modify our DNA and U.S. law prohibits human beings from being patented.

Science Feedback is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to science education. Our reviews are crowdsourced directly from a community of scientists with relevant expertise. We strive to explain whether and why information is or is not consistent with the science and to help readers know which news to trust.
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