Fact Check: Pfizer Documents Do NOT Reveal Vaccinated People Transfer COVID Shot To Unvaccinated Through Inhalation, Skin Contact

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Pfizer Documents Do NOT Reveal Vaccinated People Transfer COVID Shot To Unvaccinated Through Inhalation, Skin Contact No Danger

Do Pfizer documents reveal vaccinated people will transfer their COVID-19 shots to the unvaccinated through inhalation and skin contact? No, that's not true: The claim is based on the standard clinical study protocol used for a wide range of medicines. There is no publicly available evidence the mRNA COVID vaccines cause vaccinated persons to cast off excess spike proteins.

The mRNA vaccines teach the body to make the distinctive spike proteins, which the immune system then attacks, preparing itself to ward off COVID if the patient is exposed. The mRNA can only enter the body through a dose given by injection; it can't be passed between people. The shots are not infectious.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by NewsPunch on April 4, 2022, titled "Pfizer Bombshell: 'Stay Away from the Vaccinated.'" It opened:

Bombshell new Pfizer documents reveal that both inhalation and skin contact with jabbed individuals will transfer whatever is in the vaccine to the unvaccinated.

This is what the post looked like on the NewsPunch website on April 5, 2022:

NewsPunch.png

(Source: NewsPunch screenshot taken on Tue April 5 22:33:48 2022 UTC)

Pfizer study

The article cites a 146-page Pfizer vaccine protocol pdf from November 2020. Pfizer, as it does with all new medicines, undertook a study to "evaluate the safety, tolerability, immunogenicity, and efficacy of [messenger] RNA vaccine candidates against COVID-19 in healthy individuals."

Lead Stories previously debunked claims (here and here) of COVID vaccines threatening unvaccinated people through someone who's already received a vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who get a COVID shot cannot shed or release vaccine components. This is what the website says:

MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States shed or release their components.

FACT: Vaccine shedding is the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body and can only occur when a vaccine contains a live weakened version of the virus.

None of the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus. mRNA and viral vector vaccines are the two types of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines available.

Learn more about mRNA and​ viral vector COVID-19 vaccines.

That point was echoed in a statement, emailed to Lead Stories on April 5, 2022, by a Pfizer spokesperson. It said (emphasis theirs):

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is a synthetic mRNA vaccine and does not contain any virus particles. Because there is no virus produced in the body, no shedding occurs within the human body. The vaccine cannot be inhaled via shedding and can only enter the human body through an administered dose.

Standard medical study language

The NewsPunch article recycles the shedding claim by cherry-picking standard study protocol language, mixing it with fear-provoking hearsay and misrepresenting it to make it sound as though Pfizer is reporting on a risk specific to the COVID vaccine. This is part of what the article says:

  1. If an unvaccinated man touches a vaccinated woman or inhales the air she exhales and then has sex with his wife, his wife may have an adverse event and must then avoid having children.
  2. If a woman who has never been vaccinated comes into contact with a woman who has been vaccinated, she may:

A: Have a miscarriage,
B: Abort spontaneously,
C. Poison a baby through her breast milk,
D: Have babies with cognitive problems (memory and concentration problems).

The study protocol is a definition of terms to be used by participants in a drug safety study. Here's what part of Page 69 of the Pfizer protocol says:

8.3.5.3. Occupational Exposure

An occupational exposure occurs when a person receives unplanned direct contact with the study intervention, which may or may not lead to the occurrence of an AE [accidental exposure]. Such persons may include healthcare providers, family members, and other roles that are involved in the trial participant's care.

This sort of wording, like a definition, is standard study protocol language. It's part of something called the Common Protocol Template (CPT) Initiative. In 2017 some changes were made to standardized research documents. Because of this standardization effort, it's simple to find similar language in other non-COVID studies.

One example is a final Pfizer protocol for a non-COVID drug, dated February 22, 2019. This was a study for crisaborole ointment, an eczema treatment. On Page 46 of the document, the wording of section 8.3.5.3. is like the one for Pfizer's COVID vaccine and identical to the one for a final protocol amendment (Page 70), dated October 1, 2021, for PF-06826647, a treatment for severe plaque psoriasis:

8.3.5.3. Occupational Exposure

An occupational exposure occurs when, during the performance of job duties, a person (whether a healthcare professional or otherwise) gets in unplanned direct contact with the product, which may or may not lead to the occurrence of an AE.

An occupational exposure is reported to Pfizer Safety within 24 hours of the investigator's awareness, using the CT SAE Report Form, regardless of whether there is an associated SAE. Since the information does not pertain to a participant enrolled in the study, the information is not recorded on a CRF; however, a copy of the completed CT SAE Report Form is maintained in the investigator site file.

That section of the study protocol does not mean people have been exposed. It gives participants the term to use for accidental needle-pokes, spillage or other accidents.

Since the CDC says the virus can't be spread through the vaccines approved for use in the United States, the type of exposure or direct contact the study is referring to is something else. It's more than just being in the same room with someone who's been vaccinated and breathing the same air.

The CDC also says COVID-19 vaccination has proven to be safe and effective during pregnancy:

Data on the safety of receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty), during pregnancy are reassuring.

  • Early data from three safety monitoring systems did not find any safety concerns for people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine late in pregnancy or for their babies.
  • Scientists have not found an increased risk for miscarriage among people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine just before and during early pregnancy (before 20 weeks of pregnancy).
  • In a study of more than 40,000 pregnant women, COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy was not associated with preterm birth or delivering an infant small for their gestational age.
  • The monitoring of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy is ongoing. CDC will continue to follow people vaccinated during all trimesters of pregnancy to better understand effects on pregnancy and babies.

About NewsPunch

NewsPunch (formerly YourNewsWire) has published several hoaxes and fake news articles in the past so anything they write or publish should be taken with a large grain of salt. Their Facebook page "The People's Voice" even lost its verification checkmark according to a report from MMFA.

The Terms of Use of the site (archived here) also make it clear they don't really stand behind the accuracy of any of their reporting:

NEWSPUNCH, LLC AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS ABOUT THE SUITABILITY, RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, TIMELINESS, AND ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS CONTAINED ON THE SITE FOR ANY PURPOSE.

The site was profiled in The Hollywood Reporter where it was described as:

Your News Wire, a 3-year-old website of murky facts and slippery spin, is published by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway -- a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 -- out of an apartment in L.A.'s historic El Royale.

RationalWiki described it as:

YourNewsWire (styled as YourNewsWire.com) is an Los Angeles-based clickbait fake news website known for disseminating conspiracy theories and misleading information, contrary to its claimed motto ("News. Truth. Unfiltered").

Lead Stories earlier reported that YourNewsWire had rebranded itself as NewsPunch by changing its domain name in an apparent effort to evade filtering/blocking.

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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.


  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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