mRNA vaccines are being developed for Covid-19, but they do not change your DNA
17 August 2020
What was claimed
The new Covid-19 vaccine will be the first of its kind ever. It will be an mRNA vaccine which will literally alter your DNA. It will wrap itself into your system. You will become a genetically modified human being.
mRNA vaccines are some of the many vaccines being developed to combat the Covid-19 virus. However, they do not alter a person’s DNA.
A Facebook post shared thousands of times has claimed that “the new vaccine for Covid-19 will be the first of its kind EVER. It will be an mRNA vaccine which will literally alter your DNA. It will wrap itself into your system. You will essentially become a genetically modified human being.”
This is partially incorrect.
It is true that mRNA vaccines are being developed to combat Covid-19, along with numerous other types of vaccines. There is not one “Covid-19” vaccine, as suggested by the post, lots of countries and lots of laboratories are attempting to develop a vaccine to combat the virus.
Of the six vaccines the World Health Organisation had identified on 13 August as being furthest along in clinical trials, two were mRNA vaccines.
It’s also true that mRNA vaccines are very novel, and if one were to be approved for human use for Covid-19, it would be the first of its kind.
However, the post incorrectly describes how mRNA vaccines work. mRNA vaccines work by introducing a molecule into the body which instructs cells to build a disease-specific antigen. The antigen is then recognised by the immune system which produces antibodies to fight the real thing.
It doesn’t change the body’s DNA or “wrap” itself. mRNA vaccines are generally viewed positively as they are cheap, and don’t involve using part of a virus-like some traditional vaccines.
The picture in the post is just a comparison of DNA and RNA and has nothing to do with vaccines or mRNA vaccines.
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 mRNA vaccines could be used to vaccinate against Covid-19, but they don’t change a person’s DNA.