Viral video spreads misinformation about ethylene oxide and Ivermectin

12 May 2021
What was claimed

Lateral flow tests could cause cancer or damage DNA because the swabs used to collect a sample from the user are sterilised with ethylene oxide.

Our verdict

Overexposure to ethylene oxide itself can cause health problems such as cancer, but there is no suggestion that using something that has been sterilised by ethylene oxide is harmful. It is routinely used to sterilise medical equipment.

What was claimed

Ivermectin can cure Covid-19 in 48 hours.

Our verdict

A study looking at Ivermectin’s impact on the SARS-CoV-2 virus in cells in the lab found it dramatically reduced the amount of viral RNA in cells within 48 hours, which doesn’t mean it can do the same in people. Both the Department of Health and Social Care and the WHO have said there is not sufficient evidence to prove the efficacy of Ivermectin as a cure for Covid-19, and its use remains controversial.

What was claimed

You might not be able to have children if you have the Covid-19 vaccine.

Our verdict

There is no evidence that any Covid-19 vaccines can impact fertility. The NHS is currently advising that it is preferable for pregnant people in the UK to have the Pfizer/BioTech or Moderna vaccines as they have been given in pregnancy worldwide to more people without issue.

A viral video on Facebook, viewed thousands of times, contains a number of incorrect or misleading claims related to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

These inaccurate statements concerning the safety of the chemical ethylene oxide, the efficacy of the drug Ivermectin as a Covid-19 cure and impacts of the Covid-19 vaccine on fertility have recurred throughout the pandemic. 

Here’s our verdict on the video’s main claims. 

Should we be concerned about ethylene oxide? 

The video claims that lateral flow tests could cause cancer or damage DNA because the swabs used to collect a sample from the user are sterilised with ethylene oxide. 

We have fact checked claims that ethylene oxide, a colourless gas used to sterilise medical equipment worldwide, makes lateral flow tests unsafe before

Overexposure to ethylene oxide itself can cause health problems such as cancer, but there is no suggestion that using something that has been sterilised by ethylene oxide will be harmful.

The UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has previously confirmed to Full Fact that ethylene oxide is a highly controlled and safe method of sterilisation, which is assessed and evaluated throughout the sterilisation process to ensure it meets agreed safety standards. 

Is Ivermectin a cure for Covid-19? 

The second part of the video, recorded by a different person, repeats concerns about ethylene oxide and goes on to question why the drug Ivermectin is not being used instead of Covid-19 vaccines. 

The video features a clip from a news report, broadcast by One America News Network (OANN, sometimes presented as OAN) which claims that a dose of Ivermectin “could kill Covid in less than 48 hours”. 

This report appears to reference a study published in June 2020. It found that the drug dramatically reduced the amount of genetic information from the virus in cells in the laboratory within 48 hours. 

The study did not examine the impact Ivermectin had on humans with Covid-19. The researchers said at the time that Ivermectin “therefore warrants further investigation for possible benefits in humans”. 

We have written about Ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication, and its controversial position in the context of Covid-19 before.

The Department of Health and Social Care has previously confirmed to Full Fact that based on the data currently available, it did not believe that there was sufficient evidence to prove that Ivermectin is a safe and effective treatment for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, all three Covid-19 vaccines currently in use in the UK are effective at significantly reducing the risk of contracting symptomatic Covid-19, as we have previously reported

Could the Covid-19 vaccines affect fertility?

As we have written before there is no evidence that mRNA vaccines such as the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines can impact fertility. 

Claims about links between the vaccines and infertility have persisted throughout the vaccine rollout. There is no evidence that nanoparticles in Covid-19 vaccines affect fertility and no evidence the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interferes with placenta formation or women’s fertility in general. 

Dr Edward Morris, president at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said in January that there is “​no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women's fertility.”

Current NHS advice states that it is preferable to have either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines if you are currently pregnant, as they've been more widely used during pregnancy in other countries and have not caused any safety issues. If a pregnant person has already had one dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and observed no side-effects, they are advised to complete their second dose. 

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 video features incorrect or misleading claims about the safety of ethylene oxide, the efficacy of Ivermectin as a Covid-19 cure and impacts of the Covid-19 vaccine on fertility.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.