David Icke makes false claim that vaccines are ‘gene therapy’

14 June 2021
What was claimed

Asymptomatic Covid-19 doesn’t exist.

Our verdict

Asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 does exist and has been shown to be an important factor in how the disease spreads. The number of overall asymptomatic cases however has been debated.

What was claimed

Covid-19 is a deliberate hoax designed to promote the climate change agenda.

Our verdict

This is a misinterpretation of a book written in 2020 by the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

What was claimed

Vaccine manufacturers have never claimed their vaccines stop transmission of Covid-19.

Our verdict

This is not true and there’s plenty of evidence to show how the vaccines do considerably reduce transmission.

What was claimed

The available Covid-19 vaccines are a type of gene therapy.

Our verdict

This is not true. None of the vaccines change genetic code or attempt to replace genes.

A video interview of conspiracy theorist David Icke, posted on Facebook, makes a number of misleading and dangerous claims about Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers, gene therapy and asymptomatic cases of the virus. 

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Asymptomatic transmission is real 

During the video, Mr Icke claims the transmission of Covid-19 through those with asymptomatic cases of the virus is a “hoax” and brands asymptomatic Covid-19 a “load of nonsense”.

This is not accurate. There is evidence that asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 has played an important part in the spread of the Covid-19. The World Health Organisation has stated: “Whether or not they have symptoms, infected people can be contagious and the virus can spread from them to other people”. However, the extent that asymptomatic Covid-19 cases contribute to overall transmission has been debated.   

One analysis published in the Lancet in January 2021 states that asymptomatic Covid-19 patients are infectious (although may be less so than symptomatic patients, as has been suggested by other research). It concluded that “where resources permit, contact tracing should proactively seek people with asymptomatic COVID-19 because they can transmit disease and will need to be contained if a national policy objective is to minimise cases and transmission.”

Other analysis has been more forthright – a meta-analysis of eight Chinese studies, published in the Journal of the American Medicine Association, says that transmission from asymptomatic individuals was estimated in some cases to have accounted for more than half of all Covid-19 transmissions.

As we have said elsewhere, other meta analysis studies (which analyse the results of several studies together) have shown asymptomatic infections make up between 17% and 20% of cases. However, there were large ranges within the studies. 

The founder of the World Economic Forum did not suggest Covid-19 was a conspiracy to promote climate change agendas

Mr Icke also claims that Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum said Covid-19 was “an opportunity for a great reset to save the world from human caused climate change” and later states that Covid-19 and climate change are “two hoaxes perpetuated by the same force”. 

The basis for this, he says, was a book by Mr Schwab and author Theirry Mallaret called “The Great Reset”. Since its publication in 2020 it has drawn the attention of conspiracy theorists. 

The Great Reset (very broadly summarised) discusses how the world’s political, business and social institutions may wish to address pre-existing geo-political concerns, such as global warming, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In the book Mr Schwab suggests the possibility of creating “long-lasting and wider environmental changes” through changes in behaviours and new activism as society readapts to a world in which it must co-exist with Covid-19. He also provides some evidence of some of the efforts being made by big business and others to achieve this. 

However, Mr Schwab also states the pandemic has created significant risk that the climate change agenda could be deprioritised as nations attempt to deal with other pressures caused by the virus. 

Mr Schwab states that some economies may even “put aside” concerns about global warming to concentrate on their recovery following Covid-19, which may well include subsidising “fossil-fuel heavy and carbon emitting industries”. 

So while Mr Schwab did talk about climate change policy and action in respect of the global recovery from Covid-19, there is nothing to suggest the pandemic was engineered to promote this agenda.

Covid-19 vaccines reduce transmission

Mr Icke also suggests that none of the manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines are “claiming to stop transmission”.

Evidence shows vaccines reduce the risk of infection for those who have been vaccinated, and the risk of people who have been vaccinated from passing on the virus. 

While manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines have not claimed they prevent 100% of transmission, as they do not, evidence suggests the vaccines significantly reduce the risk.

Evidence from Public Health England showed that the vaccine reduces the risk of infection by more than 70% which rises to 85% after two weeks.  Other studies have shown recipients of the Pfizer vaccine were 95% less likely to contract Covid-19. For the Moderna vaccine that was 94% and for AstraZeneca it was 76%. 

Initial research, covering over a million contacts in the UK, has found that people who became infected three weeks after their first vaccination were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus onto household contacts. This protection appeared from around two weeks after the vaccination, and was regardless of age.

We also have repeatedly written about the links between transmission of Covid-19 and vaccines.

Vaccines are not gene therapy

Mr Icke says plainly at one point that none of the Covid-19 vaccines fulfill the definition of a vaccine but that “they are a gene therapy”. Gene therapy is a technique to treat illnesses by modifying an individuals' genes, for example by replacing a faulty gene with a healthy one.

As we have stated before, some of the Covid-19 vaccines contain messenger RNA (mRNA) that codes a protein specific to a pathogen’s surface. This mRNA provides instructions to make the proteins usually found on the surface of the Covid-19 virus. This in turn prompts the body to make Covid-19 antibodies. 

However, introduction of mRNA into human cells does not change the DNA of the human cells and if these cells replicate, the mRNA would not be incorporated into the new cells’ genetic information.

David Icke’s other claims

There are a number of other claims within the video which we’ve already debunked including false claims that that the inventor of PCR said it couldn’t be used to detect infectious diseases, that vaccines make you infertile and that the current Covid-19 vaccines don’t fulfil the definition of what a vaccine is.

Image courtesy of Tyler Merbler, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Correction 18 January 2022

The original version of this article stated that asymptomatic Covid-19 cases accounted for a “huge” number of overall cases. This has been changed to say that while asymptomatic illness does exist and has been an important factor in how Covid-19 spreads, evidence of the proportion of asymptomatic cases is mixed.

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