A post about coronavirus vaccines gets facts about their safety, ingredients, and legality wrong

17 December 2020
What was claimed

Those administering the Covid vaccines will get £12.58.

Our verdict

This is an “item of service” fee, and covers the cost to GPs of providing the treatment. Similar payments are made to GPs for providing a range of services.

What was claimed

Covid vaccines contain aborted babies.

Our verdict

Human-derived cells have been used in the manufacture of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, but they are filtered out of the final product. They are replicas of a cell derived from a foetus in the 1970s. They are not used in the manufacture of other vaccines, such as Pfizer’s.

What was claimed

The Covid vaccine will make you infertile.

Our verdict

This claim has no basis. Experts say that the risk of the Covid vaccine affecting a woman’s fertility is “vanishingly small.”

What was claimed

It’s illegal to sue those behind covid vaccines.

Our verdict

Current UK law says that if the government decided to authorise a vaccine for emergency use, manufacturers and healthcare professionals would not take responsibility for most civil liability claims. However if the product is not found to have met safety standards or is defective, this immunity is lost.

An Instagram post gets several things wrong about the coronavirus vaccine, and makes other claims misleadingly out of context. The post’s text reads:

“I get £12.58 If I give you this covid vaccine

“And you get aborted babies injected straight in your vein and become infertile & it’s illegal to sue me it’s win win.”

It’s incorrect to say that the Covid vaccine contains aborted babies, that it’ll make you infertile, and it’s illegal to sue those administering the vaccine. 

It’s true that those administering a Covid vaccine dose will receive £12.58 (and so £25.16 for a two dose vaccine such as the one produced by Pfizer and BioNTech). GPs participating in the Covid vaccination programme will receive a £12.58 “item of service” fee per injection. This figure covers the cost of providing the treatment. 

Similar fees are paid to GPs for providing other services, including other vaccinations like the flu shot. (In England, GP practices are independent private companies that provide services in line with one of a number of contracts outlined by the NHS.)

“Aborted babies” are not in Covid vaccines. Cells which are replicas of a cell taken from a foetus in the 1970s have been used in the manufacture of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (which at the time of writing has yet to be rolled out in the UK), but as we’ve written about before, they are filtered out of the final product. 

As Factcheck NI says, other vaccines that are mRNA vaccines (such as the Pfizer vaccine that has started to be rolled out) do not use human cells in their manufacture.

We have written before about claims that the Pfizer Covid vaccine will affect fertility. This concern comes from the fact that the vaccine works by igniting an immune response to a spike protein on the Covid-19 virus’ surface, and that somewhat similar proteins make up the placenta. 

However, experts told Full Fact that the risk of the vaccine affecting a woman’s fertility was “vanishingly small”. The two proteins are not in fact especially similar, and if an immune response to the coronavirus spike protein could somehow affect fertility, you would expect to see it in the immune response to being infected with the virus as well. 

There is no evidence that this is the case, as women who have been infected with the coronavirus do not seem more likely to lose a pregnancy or struggle to get pregnant later.

We’ve also previously covered the claim that people cannot sue if something goes wrong with their administered vaccine. This claim has some truth to it, but it’s not the case that vaccine manufacturers have total immunity from being sued. 

That claim comes from a misreading of a government consultation document which lays out proposals to potentially authorise a vaccine for emergency use. Existing UK law (as informed by EU law) says that if the government decided to do this, manufacturers and healthcare professionals would not take responsibility for most civil liability claims. 

However, the document states that if the product is not found to have met safety standards or is defective, this immunity is lost.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false because claims about vaccine contents, their effect on fertility, and their legality are untrue, while the claim about payment to those administering it requires context.

Update 23 December 2020

This article was updated to clarify the fee to those administering the vaccine is per dose.

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