No evidence aluminium in vaccines causes Alzheimer's disease

11 November 2020
What was claimed

Aluminium in vaccines can cause Alzheimer’s disease.

Our verdict

No link between Alzheimer’s disease and the small amount of aluminium found in some vaccines has been established.

Our readers have asked us to check claims that aluminium used in a new Covid-19 vaccine—or any other vaccine—can cause Alzheimer’s disease. This is not correct.

Small amounts of aluminium have been used in vaccines for almost 100 years. If any Covid-19 vaccines are developed using aluminium, this will not cause Alzheimer’s disease. 

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Aluminium in vaccines 

An adjuvant is an ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response in the person receiving the vaccine, meaning that it is more effective. Aluminium salts have been common adjuvants since the 1930s. Potassium aluminium sulphate is the most widely used human vaccine adjuvant, along with other kinds of aluminium salts such as aluminium hydroxide and aluminium phosphate. 

Aluminium-containing adjuvants have been incorporated into billions of doses of vaccines and administered annually to millions of people, and aluminium has been described as “one of the safest” adjuvant components.

There are currently multiple vaccines for Covid-19 in development, and it is possible that some of them may use aluminium-containing adjuvants. 

The amount of aluminium used in human vaccines is incredibly small, and typically weighs in at less than a milligram (between 0.2 and 0.8mg). By comparison, an adult typically ingests seven to nine milligrams of aluminium per day, as it is also found in numerous foods and drinks including fruits, vegetables, cereals, flour, dairy products, beer and wine. 

Babies ingest aluminium through both breast milk and formula milk. Most aluminium taken into the body is cleaned out by the kidneys.

Does aluminium in vaccines cause Alzheimer’s?

Concerns about a link between aluminium and Alzheimer’s have existed for decades, but there is no conclusive evidence of this.

Alzheimer’s Society says that “no study or group of studies has been able to confirm that aluminium is involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease”. It notes that one study suggested aluminium in drinking water may have progressed Alzheimer’s disease for people who already had the disease, but only when a high dose was consumed.

“No convincing relationship between the amount of exposure or aluminium in the body and the development of Alzheimer’s disease has been established,” it said.

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