Fact-Check: Dr. Mercola’s “How COVID-19 ‘Vaccines’ May Destroy the Lives of Millions”

Kristen Panthagani, PhD

There is an article circulating entitled “How COVID-19 ‘Vaccines’ May Destroy the Lives of Millions” (on Mercola, it’s behind a subscription wall) that is arguing that the COVID vaccines are dangerous. I have seen this article reposted multiple times on his site, so I thought I’d go ahead and debunk it. Here are the summary points from the article, and why they aren’t true.

Claim 1: “The COVID-19 vaccine really isn’t a vaccine in the medical definition of a vaccine. It’s more accurately an experimental gene therapy that could prematurely kill large amounts of the population and disable exponentially more.”

This claim has several falsehoods in it, so let’s address them one at a time. First, the medical definition of a vaccine is a substance that induces an immune response to a pathogen, building immunity to it. Therefore, the COVID vaccines are vaccines, because they induce immune responses to the pathogen SARS-CoV-2, and after people have been vaccinated, they have immunity against COVID.

Are the mRNA vaccines "experimental?"

Now the “experimental gene therapy” claim. First, when we call a drug or vaccine experimental, what does that mean? It means that the drug or vaccine is currently in the testing stage (clinical trials). For example, if someone has cancer, their doctor might recommend they enroll in a clinical trial that is testing a new experimental treatment. It is unknown whether the treatment will work on not, so it is called “experimental.”

So, are the COVID mRNA vaccines still in the testing stage? No. They have already completed the testing stage, which was the Phase III clinical trials. The test to see if the vaccines work has been completed, and we know the results (they work very well), so these vaccines are no longer “experimental.” If you’d like to understand the results of the clinical trial yourself, here is a video that explains it.

Are the mRNA vaccines "gene therapy?"

Now, the gene therapy claim. Are the COVID vaccines gene therapy? Traditionally, the term “gene therapy” is used to describe a treatment that inserts a piece of DNA into the human genome to fix a broken human gene (DNA code), often through use of a viral vector. Is that what the COVID mRNA vaccines are doing? Not at all. The mRNA vaccines do not use a viral vector, they are not made of DNA, they do not edit the human genome, and their purpose is not to fix a broken human gene. Here is an explanation of the difference between DNA and mRNA, and why the COVID mRNA vaccines will not alter your genome.

Are the mRNA vaccines dangerous?

Now the final claim in this statement: that the vaccines “could prematurely kill large amounts of the population and disable exponentially more.” This is not true. The mRNA vaccines were tested in tens of thousands of people during the phase III clinical trials, and there were no serious adverse events related to the vaccines in these trials.

And just like we do for every other vaccine, we are still monitoring for vaccine safety even after the mRNA vaccines were authorized for general use. One way we do this is through the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). This is a website where anyone who experiences any negative health event after receiving the vaccine can report it. And doctors are required to report any deaths that occur after vaccination.

But, it’s very important to note that these VAERS reports are made regardless of whether or not the vaccine had anything to do with the negative health event. Someone could die of a drug overdose after getting the vaccine, and that could be reported to VAERS. That does not mean that the vaccine caused a drug overdose; that would be physically impossible. 

So, how do we tell if the events reported to VAERS are caused by the vaccine or not? By analyzing the reports, and comparing them to background levels of those same events. Let’s look at miscarriages as an example. Miscarriage is quite common: an estimated 1 in 8 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. So if you tracked 80 different pregnant women, about 10 of them would likely report miscarriages due to natural causes. Now let’s say all of those 80 woman got vaccinated. You would still expect about 10 of them to have miscarriages for reasons unrelated to the vaccine. But to each individual, the reason for miscarriage is often unknown, so those women might report their miscarriage to VAERS, uncertain if the vaccine caused it or not. Because millions of people are getting vaccinated right now, we expect that some negative health events will happen near the time of vaccination, just due to chance. The way we test if the vaccine actually had anything to do with the negative health event is to look at the VAERS reports and see if the rate of that health event reported to VAERS is higher than would be expected from other causes. If it is, then that tells us the negative health event might be connected to the vaccine. If it’s not, then that tells us that these VAERS reports are likely capturing background levels of that health event, unrelated to the vaccine. And so far, that is what we see for miscarriages: rates of miscarriage reported to VAERS are not above the expected background levels of miscarriage.

Claim 2: “Since mRNA normally rapidly degrades, it must be complexed with lipids or polymers. COVID-19 vaccines use PEGylated lipid nanoparticles, and PEG is known to cause anaphylaxis.”

It’s true that mRNA rapidly degrades, and it’s true that they are stabilized in part by putting them in a tiny drop of lipid (lipid is the medical word for fat). My friend Dr. Sana Zekri has written a little bit about this here. And it’s true that there have been super rare reports of anaphylaxis after some of the mRNA vaccines. So far, 5 people out of every 1,000,000 people who have gotten the Pfizer vaccine have had anaphylaxis, and 3 out of every 1,000,000 people for the Moderna vaccine. Anaphylaxis is dangerous but treatable, so that is why they are screening and keeping a close eye on people who have a history of anaphylaxis.

Claim 3: “Free mRNA can signal danger to your immune system and drive inflammatory diseases. As such, injecting synthetic thermostable mRNA (mRNA that is resistant to breaking down) is highly problematic as it can fuel chronic, long-term inflammation”

This statement seems to be implying that the mRNA vaccines will never degrade and will just circulate for a long time in the human body because they are ‘thermostable,’ in turn causing all sorts of problems. First, this is not true. Second, this is kind of odd given Claim #2 from this same article, which talks about how the mRNA is fragile. So what is the truth; is mRNA fragile or is it so stable it will stay around forever? 

The answer is mRNA is fragile, and is definitely not ‘thermostable’. The word ‘thermostable’ means stable at warm temperatures. In the lab when we work with mRNA, we have to constantly keep in cold (on ice) to keep it from degrading. There is a joke in research that if you look at your mRNA sample wrong, it will degrade. (This is why I personally hate working with RNA, and prefer DNA, which is much more stable). The mRNA vaccines also require cold temperatures to be stable, which is why they are stored at very cold temperatures. So no — these mRNA vaccines are not “thermostable”, and they do not circulate in your body indefinitely, but are degraded relatively soon after they are injected.

Claim 4: “Many commonly reported side effects from the COVID-19 gene therapy “vaccines” appear to be caused by brain inflammation.”

Uhhh… nope. Brain inflammation would cause things like altered mental status, memory loss, inability to walk, etc. I am guessing what they’re trying to blame on “brain inflammation” is actually reactogenicity, which are the signs of the immune system appropriately responding to the vaccine. These are the same symptoms of a mild cold like fatigue, fever/chills, etc. These are normal and expected, and not signs of “brain inflammation.”

Claim 5: “Anyone with an inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease or chronic Lyme and those with acquired immune deficiency/dysfunction from any microbial pathogen, brain trauma or environmental toxin are at high risk of dying from COVID-19 mRNA vaccines”

From a medical perspective, this is essentially a very random list of syndromes that honestly just doesn’t make any sense. It’s like they pulled a random list of diseases out of a hat. But to address their claims, there is no evidence that the COVID mRNA vaccines increase risk of death. In the clinical trials, there were no deaths caused by the vaccines, and in the ongoing monitoring of the vaccine safety data, the rate of death is proportionate to what is to be expected in the population at large. You have to remember that on average in the US, ~7500 people die every day due to all sorts of causes. And when millions of people are being vaccinated, that means that some people will happen to die (from other causes) close to the time of vaccination. This does not mean the vaccine caused it — to figure that out, you have to look and see if there is an increase in deaths relative to what’s expected. Here’s what the data shows:

Reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. More than 339 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through July 19, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 6,207 reports of death (0.0018%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and TTS, a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused deaths.” Source: CDC

For more details and context on how to interpret the VAERS reports, check out this post.

Heard another rumor about COVID vaccines not addressed here? Check out this post tackling 10 common COVID myths circulating online, explaining why none of them are true.

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