Covid-19 vaccine did not kill every animal it was tested on

14 April 2021
What was claimed

All animals used in Covid-19 vaccine trials died months later from immune disorders, sepsis and/or cardiac failure.

Our verdict

There is no evidence for this.. The claim is based on a 2012 study looking at different vaccines. The animals, in this case mice, were euthanized as is standard procedure in this sort of trial. They did not die “months later” as claimed.

A viral Facebook post claims that all animals involved in Covid-19 vaccine studies died months later from immune disorders, sepsis and/or cardiac failure. 

This is false. 

The post appears to be a screenshot of an online article which makes a number of incorrect claims. The study this particular claim is based on was about severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and published in 2012. It did not focus on Covid-19 vaccines, or even use the same technology that underpins the vaccines currently being used against Covid-19. And even in this study, the animals were euthanized—they did not die in the ways described in the post. 

Did animals die in the Covid-19 vaccine trials?

As we have written before, the Covid-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca) have been tested on animals

Chris Magee, head of policy and media at UK non-profit Understanding Animal Research (UAR), 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 said animals used in drug trials are usually euthanized, so scientists can examine their internal organs for signs of pathology. 

Did animals die in the 2012 SARS trial?

The lead author of the 2012 study has previously confirmed to Reuters that the animals used in his research, mice, did not die as a result of the vaccines they were given. He also highlighted the fact that vaccines they tested in the 2012 study did not use mRNA technology like some of the Covid-19 vaccines, such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and were in fact “very different vaccine platforms”.

There is no evidence to substantiate claims that the animals died “months later” from other conditions as described in the post.

The screenshot of the article also claims “coronavirus vaccine caused liver inflammation in test animals”. This statement (in the original article) links to a 2004 study which, in response to the 2003 SARs outbreak, tested a vaccine on ferrets and found it was associated with enhanced hepatitis in the animals.

Again, this vaccine was not created to tackle the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is not based on the mRNA technology that underpins vaccines such as Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

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 post refers to trials that weren’t for Covid-19 vaccines, and there is no evidence the animals in these trials died months later.

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