After an opinion column was published by Forbes, glee emanated from people who believed it to prove an often-disproven claim: that COVID-19 vaccines are actually gene therapy.
"Pretty sure I got fact-checked for saying this months ago. Its fine, its just a little gene therapy," tweeted New Jersey gym owner Ian Smith on Dec. 1, sharing a screengrab of the headline of the Forbes piece that read "Yes, The Vaccine Changes Your DNA. A Tiny Bit. Thats A Good Thing."
Smith soon added a "fact-check" to his post that debunked the claim that the vaccine is gene therapy. But not before a screenshot of Smiths tweet and other screenshots of the Forbes headline took off on social media, with posters claiming the Forbes headline provided proof that the COVID-19 vaccines are gene therapy and/or alter your DNA.
"WE TOLD YA!" read one published Dec. 2.
The posts were flagged as part of Facebooks efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
We have repeatedly debunked claims that the vaccines are gene therapy.
In this instance, the article cited was a Nov. 29 opinion piece written by a genome expert, Johns Hopkins University biomedical engineering professor Steven Salzberg. And shortly after it was published, numerous scientists weighed in, highly critical of the headline choice and article.
Salzberg, who says he is "fighting the anti-vax movement through my columns," soon changed the headline to read, "Covid Vaccines Dont Alter Your DNA They Help Choose Cells To Strengthen Your Immune Response."
Whats more, a full reading of the article would have made it clear that Salzberg was not suggesting anti-vaccine activists were accurate in their claims that the vaccine alters your DNA or that its gene therapy. Rather, he stated they were wrong and argued in part that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention oversimplified its explanation of what the vaccines do.
"Totally different from gene therapy," Salzberg said about the COVID-19 vaccines in a phone interview with PolitiFact. "Apples and oranges. Completely unrelated. The vaccine is not going in and making a change to your DNA."
Salzberg told PolitiFact the original headline was misinterpreted and he changed it within a couple of hours. "I was trying to draw people in with this headline," so that people understand that changes that occur as a result of the vaccines are good for their health, "but the message was lost on some people."
"Its kind of a technical point and I was being perhaps a little too cute," he said.
Vaccines dont directly change DNA
Salzberg told PolitiFact that the point he was trying to make was that in tiny quantities, the mixture of DNA in the body is different after vaccination just as it is different after a viral infection, but the vaccine is not mutating DNA. "But that's kind of a subtle point," he said. "Im just trying to educate people on what immunity is. There is something that had to change. If nothing changed, you wouldnt have immunity."
The article itself makes the case that the vaccines do not alter DNA.
Heres how it begins:
"One of the common tropes among anti-vaxxers lately is that the Covid-19 vaccine changes your DNA. Oh, the horrors!
"Do they even know what they mean by that? Almost certainly not. Anti-vaxxers generally have no idea how biology works; often they are so confused that Im tempted to say they are not even wrong. Even when they are right about something, its for the wrong reasons."
Later, the article makes a distinction:
"Its true that COVID-19 vaccines dont directly alter your DNA, and its true that they dont invade the cell nucleus, where your DNA resides. But thats not the full story.
"Remember that the whole point of a vaccine is to prevent future infections. That means that something in your body has to change, right?...
"So back to our original question: does the Covid-19 vaccine change your DNA? Not directly, no. But yes, thanks to your own immune system, the overall mixture of DNA in your body is a tiny bit altered after you get any vaccine. Your DNA is also changed every time you recover from an infection, including the common cold. But the only change is in the DNA of a tiny number of immune cells, which hang around as guardians against future infections. And thats a good thing."
COVID-19 vaccines not gene therapy
As weve reported, the mRNA technology used by the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines does not amount to gene therapy.
Gene therapy involves modifying a persons genes to cure or treat a disease. The COVID-19 vaccines do not alter your DNA.
"It's absolutely incorrect to say that vaccines are really gene therapy," Cindy Prins, clinical associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida, has told PolitiFact. "Vaccines don't make any changes to your own DNA, so they don't edit your own DNA like gene therapy does. They also don't replace any mutated genes in your body."
Social media posts claimed that COVID-19 vaccines are gene therapy and a recent Forbes article proves that.
The vaccines do not amount to gene therapy. Gene therapy involves modifying a persons genes to cure or treat a disease. The COVID-19 vaccines do not alter your DNA.
The original headline on the Forbes article said "the vaccine changes your DNA a tiny bit," but was quickly changed by the author, a Johns Hopkins University gene expert, who said it was misinterpreted. He said in the article that the vaccines do not alter DNA and told PolitiFact they are not gene therapy.
We rate the post False.
COVID-19 vaccines are not gene therapy and a Forbes article doesn't say they are - PolitiFact
- How to add your COVID-19 vaccine records to Apple Health and Wallet on your iPhone - 9to5Mac - January 19th, 2022
- mRNA vaccines offer lasting protection against severe COVID-19 - Medical News Today - January 19th, 2022
- 10 Oregon counties with the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate - KOIN.com - January 19th, 2022
- Researchers testing COVID-19 vaccine patch | TheHill - The Hill - January 19th, 2022
- How Florida hospitals are juggling plans over COVID-19 vaccination mandates - Becker's Hospital Review - January 19th, 2022
- How This DC Restaurant Is Honoring The COVID-19 Vaccine - Mashed - January 19th, 2022
- More walk-in COVID-19 vaccination sites opening this week in New Hampshire - WMUR Manchester - January 19th, 2022
- Conspiracy theories hamper Romania Covid-19 vaccination drive - TRT World - January 19th, 2022
- Shingles Vaccine and COVID-19 Vaccine Timing - Healthline - January 19th, 2022
- Duration of Protection against Mild and Severe Disease by Covid-19 Vaccines | NEJM - nejm.org - January 19th, 2022
- 4th COVID-19 vaccine offered to some immunocompromised Oklahomans - KFOR Oklahoma City - January 19th, 2022
- Sioux Falls man reflects on one year since first COVID-19 vaccine - KELOLAND.com - January 19th, 2022
- Calif. medical workers fight to bridge the Latino COVID-19 vaccination gap - Yahoo News - January 19th, 2022
- Almost 100,000 Ukrainians have received COVID-19 vaccine booster shot - Ukrinform. Ukraine and world news - January 18th, 2022
- Saratoga County announces upcoming COVID-19 vaccination schedule - The Saratogian - January 18th, 2022
- Where to Find COVID-19 Vaccines, Testing, Isolation Rules, Booster Providers and More - Noozhawk - January 18th, 2022
- 'Never' or just 'not yet?' How timing affects COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy - The Conversation CA - January 18th, 2022
- No, a study from Denmark didn't find that COVID-19 vaccines make people more prone to infection; biases in the study likely led to underestimated... - January 18th, 2022
- Polio team's support for COVID-19 vaccination demonstrates their value for global health - World - ReliefWeb - January 18th, 2022
- COVID-19 vaccine will soon be administered at DPSCD - WXYZ - January 18th, 2022
- LSU Health Shreveport COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Schedule - Bossier Press-Tribune Online - January 18th, 2022
- Opinion | The UI needs to incentivize COVID-19 safety measures - UI The Daily Iowan - January 18th, 2022
- COVID-19: Top news stories about the pandemic on 17 January - World Economic Forum - January 18th, 2022
- Who is still covered by COVID-19 vaccine mandates? - wausaupilotandreview.com - January 16th, 2022
- Heres how to get a QR code to prove your COVID-19 vaccine status through the states new website - The Boston Globe - January 16th, 2022
- COVAX delivers its 1 billionth COVID-19 vaccine dose - World Health Organization - January 16th, 2022
- Less than half of Wasco's residents are fully vaccinated. This vaccine clinic aims to change that - KERO 23ABC News - January 16th, 2022
- Adverse Reactions to the COVID-19 Vaccine: What to Know - Healthline - January 16th, 2022
- I am not misinformation a group of Covid-19 vaccine injured individuals share their e... - The Rio Times - January 16th, 2022
- Gov. Youngkin signs executive actions banning critical race theory, appointing new parole board, ending school mask mandate and vaccine mandate for... - January 16th, 2022
- MLK Day COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Clinic - City of San Antonio - City of San Antonio - January 16th, 2022
- Proof of COVID-19 vaccination now required for most indoor public spaces in Boston - WCVB Boston - January 16th, 2022
- Study shows COVID-19 vaccines offer lasting protection - UNC News : UNC News - UNC News - January 13th, 2022
- Free giveaways to those who receive COVID-19 vaccine in Springfield - WWLP.com - January 13th, 2022
- WWE legend Hulk Hogan claims that COVID-19 vaccine can kill you: They are falling like flies - MARCA.com - January 13th, 2022
- Bill Gates says COVID-19 vaccines are 'missing two key things' - Fox Business - January 13th, 2022
- Live updates: Supreme Court Covid-19 vaccine rule and the latest on the Omicron variant - CNN - January 13th, 2022
- COVID-19 vaccines saved more than 240,000 lives in US: research - Business Insider - January 11th, 2022
- COVID-19 Vaccine & Booster Information - Covid-19 Information - January 11th, 2022
- Utah Latinos trail other groups in COVID-19 vaccine rates. Here's why. - Salt Lake Tribune - January 11th, 2022
- Pittsylvania-Danville Health District to Host Two Additional COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics in January - Newsroom - Virginia Department of Health - January 11th, 2022
- COVID-19 vaccine and testing sites in Chesapeake this week - wtkr.com - January 11th, 2022
- U.S. Ranks 59th Globally for Covid-19 Vaccinations, Just Behind Iran - Gizmodo - January 11th, 2022
- Covid-19 Vaccines and Tests Boost Albertsons and CVS Sales - The Wall Street Journal - January 11th, 2022
- Mexico expecting nearly 27 mln COVID-19 vaccines in coming weeks - Reuters - January 11th, 2022
- Heres where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and booster in Yakima County - Yakima Herald-Republic - January 11th, 2022
- One COVID vaccine to rule them all? What you need to know about the Army vaccine - CNET - January 10th, 2022
- What Covid-19 Vaccine Did You Get? You Probably Dont Know Its Name. - The Wall Street Journal - January 10th, 2022
- Effect of Covid-19 Vaccination on Transmission of Alpha and Delta Variants | NEJM - nejm.org - January 10th, 2022
- Mass Vaccination Sites for Covid-19 Are Back - The Wall Street Journal - January 10th, 2022
- DHS Recommends COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Dose for Everyone Ages 12 and Older - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - January 10th, 2022
- 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose: Whats the science behind another booster? - Global News - January 10th, 2022
- New groups eligible for drop-ins, and over 40K COVID-19 vaccination appointments still available this week for Ottawa residents - ottawa.ca - January 10th, 2022
- N.J. reports 12 COVID deaths and 26,615 cases as rate of transmission ticks down slightly - NJ.com - January 10th, 2022
- Cyprus reportedly discovers a Covid variant that combines omicron and delta - CNBC - January 10th, 2022
- NCCN Update on COVID-19 Vaccines and MAb Prophylaxis - Medscape - January 7th, 2022
- Czech tennis star detained in Australia before tournament over COVID-19 vaccination issues - Fox News - January 7th, 2022
- Inside the Spanish lab seeking the definitive Covid-19 vaccine - EL PAS in English - January 7th, 2022
- Mix-and-Matching COVID-19 Vaccinations - Contagionlive.com - January 7th, 2022
- Do you need a booster shot to be 'fully vaccinated' against COVID? What does 'up to date' mean? - CNET - January 7th, 2022
- COVID-19 Vaccines: What Does the Future Hold? - MedPage Today - January 5th, 2022
- What we've learned about the COVID-19 vaccine, from a Rockford OSF specialist - Rockford Register Star - January 5th, 2022
- 'Protect our hospitals' might convince Britons to get Covid-19 vaccines, but it won't work in the U.S. - STAT - January 5th, 2022
- Health department offering COVID-19 vaccines and testing - Cheboygan Daily Tribune - January 5th, 2022
- How long after having COVID-19 should you get vaccinated? - MLive.com - January 5th, 2022
- No, declining the COVID-19 vaccine wont make you 99.8% safe from the virus - Tampa Bay Times - January 5th, 2022
- Most covid-19 vaccines have been used in rich countries - The Economist - January 5th, 2022
- Lottery-based incentives are of limited value in increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake - News-Medical.Net - January 5th, 2022
- Clover Doses First Participants with Homologous Booster Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate in SPECTRA - BioSpace - January 5th, 2022
- Free COVID-19 vaccination and test sites throughout Houston - CW39 - January 5th, 2022
- Governor Abbott Sues To Protect Texas National Guard From President Biden's COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate - Office of the Texas Governor - January 5th, 2022
- The COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Bhutan: strategy and enablers - Infectious Diseases of Poverty - Infectious Diseases of Poverty - BioMed Central - January 5th, 2022
- Covid Live Updates: Latest on Omicron and Vaccines - The New York Times - January 4th, 2022
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Takes Multiple Actions to Expand Use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine | FDA - FDA.gov - January 4th, 2022
- Booster Doses | COVID-19 Vaccine - January 4th, 2022
- Why aren't more teenagers getting the COVID-19 vaccine? - 11Alive.com WXIA - January 4th, 2022
- Michigan State University requires COVID-19 vaccine or negative test to attend athletic, arts events - FOX 2 Detroit - January 4th, 2022
- Daywatch: Chicagos COVID-19 vaccination mandate begins | One groups aggressive tactics in bid to reinstate sidelined clerics | Michael Phillips... - January 4th, 2022
- COVID-19 vaccine 2nd dose and booster drive to be held in Edwards - WJTV - January 4th, 2022
- Woman arrested for illegally injecting teen with COVID-19 vaccine - New York Post - January 4th, 2022