Fact Check: Public Health England Data Does NOT Suggest That COVID-19 Vaccines Cause AIDS

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: Public Health England Data Does NOT Suggest That COVID-19 Vaccines Cause AIDS Misinterpreted

Does Public Health England (PHE) data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)? No, that's not true: The data is misinterpreted, and a spokesperson from the United Kingdom Health Security Agency -- which was one of the organizations that replaced PHE in October 2021 -- confirmed that COVID-19 vaccines do nothing of the sort.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by The Exposé on October 10, 2021. After the article insisted that doubly vaccinated individuals lost a significant percentage of their immune system capabilities following COVID-19 vaccination, the paragraph making the claim in the article stated:

Everybody over 30 will have lost 100% of their entire immune capability (for viruses and certain cancers) within 6 months.
30-50 year olds will have lost it by Christmas. These people will then effectively have full blown acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and destroy the NHS.

This is how the article looked on October 18, 2021:

the expose covid19 aids article.PNG

(Source: The Exposé screenshot taken on Mon Oct 18 17:42:29 2021 UTC)

AIDS is a disease that can only be developed by an individual with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In an email to Lead Stories on October 18, 2021, a United Kingdom Health Security Agency spokesperson concurred:

COVID-19 vaccines do not cause AIDS. AIDS is caused by HIV.

The PHE data used in the article does not support the claim that COVID-19 vaccines may cause AIDS. The first chart included in the article supposedly shows "Weekly Decline in doubly vaccinated immune system performance compared to unvaccinated people." The chart does not include a source and could not be found in any of the reports the article cited.

The subsequent charts in the article are, in part, data from PHE weekly surveillance reports that show COVID-19 cases categorized by vaccination status. For example, a screenshot of one of the charts as it actually appeared in this PHE report of week 37 is included below:

PHE week 37 report.PNG

(Source: PHE screenshot taken on Mon Oct 18 17:09:11 2021 UTC)

However, in the article, an unknown source altered the charts, adding two categories that were not in the official data report: "Immune system boost or degradation % (U-V)/U when positive (pfizer's formula) (U-V)/V when negative" (expressed in percentage) and "Weekly Incline/Decline" (expressed in percentage). It is unclear what these categories mean, as the terms are not used in the PHE reports. It is also unclear where these percentages came from or how they were calculated, as the percentage figures do not appear anywhere in the reports that the article cited. As a comparison to the PHE report screenshot included above, a screenshot of the week 37 chart as it appeared in the article is included below:

the expose week 37 report.PNG

(Source: The Exposé screenshot taken on Mon Oct 18 17:09:53 2021 UTC)

Additionally, a portion of the newest PHE report cited in the article discussed vaccine effectiveness (VE) [excluding footnotes]:

Data (based primarily on the Alpha variant) suggest that in most clinical risk groups, immune response to vaccination is maintained and high levels of VE are seen with both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. Reduced antibody response and vaccine effectiveness were seen after 1 dose of vaccine among the immunosuppressed group, however, after a second dose the reduction in vaccine effectiveness is smaller.

Analyses by dosing interval suggest that immune response to vaccination and vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease improves with a longer (greater than 6 week interval) compared to a shorter interval of 3 to 4 weeks

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national public health agency in the United States, it is safe for individuals with HIV to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

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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.


  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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