Luminescent enzymes not in Covid-19 vaccine and other myths debunked

5 March 2021
What was claimed

Covid-19 vaccines will change your DNA.

Our verdict

They won’t.

What was claimed

The vaccine is being made by MIT which is a deep state cabal company.

Our verdict

None of the vaccines are being made by MIT, which is a highly-respected university.

What was claimed

The vaccine has luciferase.

Our verdict

Luciferase is the name given to the bioluminescent natural enzyme which makes glow worms glow. Regardless, it isn't in any of the vaccines.

What was claimed

The vaccine has been pushed through in record time.

Our verdict

Correct, thanks to recent medical advances, new technologies and ample funding. The Covid-19 vaccines have been tested to the same high standards as all vaccines are.

What was claimed

Covid-19 is no more dangerous than seasonal flu.

Our verdict

False. Covid-19 has killed far more people than seasonal flu does over a similar period.

What was claimed

Hydroxychloroquine and zinc have been used all over the world to cure Covid-19.

Our verdict

They haven’t. Studies looking at hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with zinc show no effect either as a treatment or as a preventative measure.

A video of a man shouting vaccine misinformation through a megaphone in front of a Nottingham hospital has gone viral on Facebook.

Here we look at the claims and why they are (mostly) wrong.

“[The Covid-19 vaccine] will change your DNA”

The claim that vaccines will change your DNA is false, and has its roots in the fact that some of the Covid-19 vaccines, including the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being used in the UK, contain RNA, which is similar to DNA. 

The RNA in these vaccines is essentially code which instructs the human body on how to build proteins which are found on the surface of the SARS-Cov-2 virus, the virus which causes Covid-19. 

This, in turn, prompts the immune system to build antibodies to those proteins meaning that, if the vaccinated person then actually contracts the virus, they already have the protective antibodies which will recognise the surface proteins and attack the harmful virus.

But this RNA doesn’t even come into contact with human DNA which is stored in the nucleus of cells, let alone change it. Once used, the cell breaks down the RNA and gets rid of it. 

We’ve fact checked similar claims several times before.

“[The vaccine] is being made by MIT which is a deep state cabal company and it’s got luciferase”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a highly-respected American university, not a deep state cabal company, which refers to a range of conspiracy theories, particularly prominent in the US, that people in public office are secretly controlling government policy . 

MIT does have some links to Covid-19 vaccine development. 

For example, one of the founders of Moderna, a company which has produced one of the vaccines approved for use in the UK but not yet rolled out, is a professor at MIT. MIT has also done research into RNA vaccines in the past and has been doing research into Covid-19 vaccine development specifically.

But it isn’t directly involved in the manufacture or development of any of the vaccines being used. The university which has been, arguably, most prominently involved in the vaccine development effort is the University of Oxford, which developed a vaccine in partnership with AstraZeneca which is being used in the UK and elsewhere.   

Luciferase is a real thing but it’s not in Covid-19 vaccines and, despite the potentially alarming hellish connotations of its name, has less to do with Satan than with bioluminescent clams. 

Luciferase is the name for naturally occuring enzymes which glow when they oxidise, and which are found in various animals, including fireflies and glow worms

They were named as such by French scientist Raphaël Dubois at the end of the 19th century, who extracted the enzyme from clams.  

They were presumably named this because lucifer literally means “light-bringing” in Latin and refers to the morning star (Venus). Dubois didn’t however explain why he used this word. (You can read an interesting discussion on his choice here which notes that the use of the word Lucifer to refer to Satan, as it does in English, was probably not really a thing in Dubois’ France). 

Regardless though, luciferase is not in any of the Covid-19 vaccines. The enzymes have been used and proposed as having applications related to Covid-19 testing and vaccine research, but are not in the vaccines themselves.

This all seems to refer to the fact that MIT has developed a way to store medical information under the skin using a smartphone-readable dye which is delivered along with a vaccine. Other claims have been made suggesting the dye contains luciferase, but it does not

MIT says this technology would improve vaccine delivery in developing countries where it would allow vaccination history to be determined by taking a reading directly from the skin, as opposed to relying on potentially incomplete vaccination records.  

But the technology isn't currently being used in the Covid-19 vaccine delivery. 

“It has been pushed through in record time...”

The Covid-19 vaccines have been developed much more quickly than previous vaccines. There are good reasons for this.

For one, a lot of the groundwork had already been done. Years of developing RNA vaccine solutions and working on vaccines to other coronaviruses like SARS meant researchers had a headstart with Covid-19 vaccines. 

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is not an RNA vaccine, but uses a technique that had already been trialled on other infections

Money was also a factor. A lot of time spent developing vaccines is waiting for funding to come in. With Covid-19, the global need for a vaccine was so great, funding wasn’t really an issue. 

Nevertheless, the vaccines in use have all passed multiple stages of animal and human trials and been shown to be safe and effective. 

“...on a supposed virus that is no more dangerous than the seasonal flu”

Covid-19 is more dangerous than the seasonal flu. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year there are around 1 billion cases of flu leading to between 290,000 and 650,000 respiratory deaths globally.

Even using the top end of that estimate, flu would be estimated to kill around 0.07% of people who catch it

By comparison there have been over 2.5 million deaths attributed to Covid-19 since the beginning of the outbreak in late 2019, and this is despite unprecedented efforts to control the spread of the disease, such as national lockdowns.

It’s estimated that, in Europe at least, Covid-19 kills between 0.5% to 1% of people who catch it, though you’d expect a lower death rate in areas with younger populations, as Covid-19 is much more dangerous for old people.

We’ve written about comparisons between flu and Covid deaths in England before.

“[The vaccine] has what’s called transinfection in it”

The word transfection (not “transinfection”) refers to the process of artificially introducing nucleic acids like RNA and DNA into cells. 

In that sense, Covid-19 RNA vaccines which work by introducing RNA into cells to produce spike proteins work by transfection. 

Quite a lot of people seem to claim that this means they’re not vaccines. This is false. They are vaccines. A vaccine is a product which stimulates an immune response to protect someone from that disease. The Covid-19 RNA vaccines do this. 

“We do have a remedy for this so called Covid-19—it’s hydroxychloroquine and zinc it’s been used all over the world successfully but it was pulled by a corrupt Surgisphere supposed study also backed by the Lancet. It was a corrupt study”

Hydroxychloroquine is a drug with many uses, including as an anti-malarial, that has been suggested as being useful for treating or preventing Covid-19.

It was being trialed for its use as a treatment last year by the WHO but the trials were paused around the time of the publication of an article in the Lancet journal by self-professed healthcare analytics company Surgisphere. The WHO denied the publication of this article was the reason it paused the trials. 

The Surgisphere paper claimed that Covid-19 patients given hydroxychloroquine were more likely to die in hospital than those who weren’t. However, on investigation, severe doubts were raised as to the veracity of Surgisphere’s data, and the paper in the Lancet was retracted

After the paper was retracted, the WHO’s trials were resumed. 

However, there is good evidence which supports not using hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment or prevention.

For example, a study in the UK looked at patients who were already taking hydroxychloroquine for other problems and compared them to patients who were not. After adjusting for other factors, the study found no difference in Covid-19 related outcomes for people taking hydroxychloroquine.  

Another UK study from the University of Oxford similarly found no benefit of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment. 

Similarly there is no real evidence hydroxychloroquine combined with zinc may be more effective. 

A study from Egypt found that zinc supplements made no difference to the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment. There is a record of a Tunisian study dating back to May 2020 looking at whether hydroxychloroquine combined with zinc is effective in preventing Covid-19, but it does not appear to have even started recruitment.

Meanwhile various vaccines have all demonstrated high effectiveness at preventing Covid-19 infection. 

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 false because many of the claims such as that Covid-19 vaccines change DNA are false.

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