A video on Instagram makes a number of false or misleading claims about the Covid-19 vaccines, including that the vaccine interval is designed to “hit” the immune system when it is particularly vulnerable, different doses of the vaccines include HIV, bacteria, or other harmful ingredients, and that 20% of the population will die with the roll out of each vaccine dose. We haven’t fact checked them all, but here is a selection of the claims that we looked into.
The 8 week interval between vaccines is not to “hit” the immune system while it's down
The Instagram video claims that it takes eight weeks for the body to produce new white blood cells. It says that the interval between the first and second dose of vaccine is therefore designed to “hit” the immune system while it’s down, as it claims that the first vaccine decreases the body’s ability to produce white blood cells by 50%. There is no evidence to support this.
It is true that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) is currently recommending a minimum interval of eight weeks between the first and second doses of the available Covid-19 vaccines.
The Green Book, which provides health professionals with the latest information on vaccinations, states that the consistent interval should be used for all vaccines to “avoid confusion” and “simplify booking”.
In addition, it says, this interval will help to ensure a good balance between achieving rapid and long-lasting protection”. It references studieswhichhave shown better immune responses with longer intervals between vaccine doses.
There is no change to vaccine ingredients between the first and second dose
The video claims that there is a reduced amount of saline in the second dose of vaccine, and increased “harmful” ingredients.
This is wrong.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) told Full Fact: “The same COVID-19 vaccines are used for the first, second and—where used—third booster vaccinations.
“The same vial can be used for any of these three uses so there is no difference in composition between first and second doses.”
There are not 81 strands of foreign bacteria in the first booster, and there are not eight strands of HIV in the second vaccine booster
The Instagram video says that there are 81 strands of foreign bacteria in the first booster, and eight strands of HIV in the second booster vaccine. This is not true.
It is not clear where the claims originate from. In December 2020, there was a news story about a cancelled Covid-19 vaccine trial in Australia. The trial vaccine contained a small component derived from HIV. This was not able to cause HIV infection, but did cause an antibody response meaning that some trial participants had false positive HIV test results. This vaccine trial was terminated, and is not in use at all in the UK.
The JCVI has advised a preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the booster programme, regardless of which vaccine somebody initially had.
It has said that, alternatively, a half dose of the Moderna vaccine may be offered, or where mRNA vaccines cannot be offered, the AstraZeneca vaccine may be considered for those who received it previously.
The AstraZeneca vaccine does not contain bacteria. It does use a weakened version of a common cold virus from chimpanzees which has been modified so that it cannot replicate or cause disease. It is an entirely different virus to the HIV virus.
Dr Stephen Griffin, virologist and associate professor at Leeds Institute of Medical Research told us there is “no HIV present” in the vaccines.
He added: “There are no bacteria within them as such contamination is rigorously tested for, as part of quality control, plus you would expect to see infections in vaccinees…this clearly hasn’t happened”.
The MHRA also told Full Fact: “There is no bacteria or strands of HIV in the booster vaccines.”
20-30% of the population are not going to die with the roll-out of each dose
The video seems to suggest that 20-30% of the population is going to die after the introduction of each dose or booster of vaccine, although it is not entirely clear. The evidence does not support this from the vaccine roll out so far.
Up to 14 October 2021, over 49 million people in the UK have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and more than 45 million have received a second.
The MHRA’s Yellow Card Scheme is a reporting system which allows healthcare professionals and members of the public to report suspected reactions to medications or vaccinations that have occured around the time of administration. In the latest data, which covers the period up to 6 October, it has received reports of 72 fatalities related to blood clots and low platelets which have happened after vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine. There have been 1,719 Yellow Card reports in which there has been a death shortly after vaccination.
The MHRA says that many of these events occur by chance, due to the large number of people vaccinated, and are not necessarily all a result of the vaccine.
The MHRA told Full Fact: “Initial data made available to the JCVI indicates that booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines are generally well tolerated and provide a substantial increase in vaccine-induced immune responses.”
The animals in the Covid-19 vaccine trials did not die unexpectedly
The video claims that the animals involved in the Covid-19 vaccine studies had a 100% death rate. This may be true, but isn’t likely to be due to effects of the vaccine.
We have written about this before. Chris Magee, head of policy and media at UK non-profit Understanding Animal Research (UAR), previously told Full Fact that in the case of Covid-19 vaccines, data already existed to indicate the vaccines were safe, which enabled researchers to run animal trials alongside the early stages of human trials.
Had the animals died during this process, he said, the human trials would have been immediately halted. The fact that they were not indicates the animals did not die unexpectedly.
He also told Full Fact that the animals used in drug trials are usually euthanized, so scientists can examine their internal organs for signs of pathology.
AstraZeneca has published similar papers regarding its research in mice and non-human primates. Moderna has also released information about its animal trials.
None of these publications describe concerns arising from the results of the animal studies.
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 the vaccine compositions are the same between doses and there is no bacteria or HIV in the vaccines.