Conspiracy, microchips, DNA change: popular myths about the COVID-19 vaccine - ForumDaily
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Conspiracy, microchips, DNA alteration: popular myths about the COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccination campaigns are underway in the United States and most countries around the world. At the same time, a wave of rumors about the dangers of vaccines does not subside in social networks, writes Air force. We'll look at the most common myths - from conspiracy theories about injecting people with microchips to genetic modification of DNA and other risks of vaccination against coronavirus disease.

Photo: Shutterstock

Bill Gates and Chipping

After the announcement of the vaccine news last week, Bill Gates' name has been tweeted several times.

The billionaire and founder of Microsoft has been the target of many fake accusations during the pandemic.

The reason for this is his charitable work in health care and vaccine development.

One of the most popular rumors, which appeared at the beginning of the year, claims that the pandemic is in fact a worldwide conspiracy. And its goal is to implant tiny microcircuits that track people. And Bill Gates himself is behind it all.

There is no evidence to support these assumptions. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has firmly denied the allegations.

Despite the lack of evidence, a YouGov poll of 1640 people found that 28% of Americans believe in microchip theory. Among Republicans, this figure was 44%.

A photo of Bill Gates was circulated on social media with the caption “It’s simple: we change your DNA with a vaccine, implant a chip, make society cashless, and put all your money on a tiny chip. Then you will do what we tell you, otherwise we will turn off your chip, and you will starve until you become obedient.”

DNA tampering

Newsmax correspondent Emerald Robinson, who supports Trump, warned her 264 Twitter followers to "watch out" for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

“She will tamper with your DNA,” Robinson said in a tweet.

This is another concern that often appears in publications.

The BBC asked three independent scientists about this. They all assured that the coronavirus vaccine does not affect human DNA.

The people who disseminate such claims do not fundamentally understand genetics.

The vaccine contains a fragment of the genetic material of the virus - RNA.

“Injecting RNA into a person has no effect on the DNA of a human cell,” says Professor Geoffrey Almond from the University of Oxford.

Pfizer spokesman Andrew Widger explained that the vaccine “does not change the sequence of a person’s DNA. It only gives the body instructions to create immunity.”

This is not the first time such concerns have arisen—the theory was circulated back in May.

Some of the misunderstanding seems to be related to the type of vaccine that is being developed. The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine uses RNA transfer technology, or mRNA. It encourages the body to produce a protein present on the surface of the coronavirus.

This is how the immune system learns to recognize and produce antibodies against this protein.

Robinson noted in a tweet that "mRNA vaccine technology has never been tested before and is not approved."

This is true, but over the past few years there have been numerous studies of mRNA vaccines in humans.

On the subject: COVID-19 Three Vaccine Race: What You Need to Know About Each Drug

Prof Almond notes that the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is the first to be as effective as it can be licensed. We shouldn't be afraid of it just because it's a new technology, he emphasizes.

Before vaccines are certified for widespread use, they are thoroughly tested for safety.

In the first and second phases of clinical trials, the safety and correct dose of the vaccine are tested on a small number of volunteers. Thousands of people take part in the third stage. Any side effects are closely monitored in both the vaccine group and the placebo control group. Safety monitoring continues even after the vaccine is licensed.

Claire Wardle, author of a recent report on vaccination myths being spread on social media, believes they are due to a "deficiency of data". That is, the demand for such information is great, but reliable facts are not enough.

“This makes people vulnerable to fake news because it quickly fills the gap,” says Wardle, executive director of First Draft, a nonprofit that fights misinformation.

“Unreliable sources of information and alternative news reduce confidence in vaccines,” the specialist emphasizes.

Side effects

Another point in Robinson's tweet is among the most common arguments of opponents of the new vaccine.

The journalist claims that 75% of the volunteers who tested the vaccine had side effects. But vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech found no significant health risks in their research.

Many vaccines have side effects. But the vast majority of them are not at all as scary as “anti-vaxxers” (people who oppose vaccinations) claim.

“Like many vaccines, the COVID-19 jab may cause short-term side effects, such as pain at the injection site, fever, muscle aches, headache and fatigue,” says Dr Penny Ward, visiting professor of pharmacy at London College.

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She notes that these side effects are seen in many people who get the flu shots every year. But they are usually weak and disappear in a couple of days at the most. They can be relieved with paracetamol or ibuprofen.

It's unclear where Robinson got the 75% figure, but it may be a sample count from reports of mild side effects seen in participants in the same age group early in the study.

The full data on side effects in the last phase of testing has not yet been released at all, but Pfizer confirms that the researchers did not notice any serious side effects.

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