Fact Check: COVID-19 RNA Vaccine Will NOT Change Your DNA

Fact Check

  • by: Olivera Perkins
Fact Check: COVID-19 RNA Vaccine Will NOT Change Your DNA DNA Intact

Does the COVID-19 RNA, also called mRNA, vaccine change a person's DNA? No, that's not true: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines "do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way." The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is considering the RNA, or messenger RNA (mRNA), vaccines for approval.

The claim appeared in in a video on Instagram (archived here) December 4, 2020, under the title "There's Never Been A Vaccine Like This... "It will change your DNA." At about the 1 minute, 20 second mark, this claim is made :

Yes, there has never been a vaccine like this. It's an RNA vaccine. It is what's called the transinfection. It will fundamentally change people's DNA.

This is what the post with the video looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:

"Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a molecule similar to DNA," according to the National Human Genome Research Institute website. The "Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines" post on the CDCs website clearly states that such vaccines do not alter the DNA of the people who receive them:

They do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way:

  • mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is kept.

  • The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions.

But in the video on Instagram, Dr. Christiane Northrup, as the highlighted quote near the beginning of this article shows, says that the vaccine can alter DNA. The 6:20-minute video, in which she is interviewed, seeks to make a case against the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. The video is a montage of various video clips. Northrup says that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines alter DNA when the interviewer asks this question:

This covid vaccine, can you tell what we do know about it; and what, you from your experience, fear for the people that may take it?

At about the 27second mark in the video, Northrup gives her qualifications for offering her opinions about the vaccine. She offers impressive qualifications in obstetrics and gynecology, but not in any medical or science specialties relating to viruses or vaccines. She is a board certified OB/GYN doctor and a former clinical professor of OB/GYN. Northrup says she's written three best-selling books : "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom," "The Wisdom of Menopause" and "Goddesses Never Age," before adding:

I am kind of straddling the world between holistic medicine and conventional OB/GYN; and my entire career really has been about teaching women everything that can go right with their bodies and how to make that their experience.

This video is one of many viral social media posts and videos claiming that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine alters DNA. The mRNA technique is a new approach to vaccines. The Understanding and Explaining mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines post on the CDC website explains how these vaccines differ from most inoculations.

mRNA vaccines take advantage of the process that cells use to make proteins in order to trigger an immune response and build immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In contrast, most vaccines use weakened or inactivated versions or components of the disease-causing pathogen to stimulate the body's immune response to create antibodies.

mRNA vaccines have several benefits compared to other types of vaccines including use of a non-infectious element, shorter manufacturing times, and potential to target multiple diseases.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Olivera Perkins

Olivera Perkins is a veteran journalist and fact checker at Lead Stories, who has covered a variety of beats, including labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Read more about or contact Olivera Perkins

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