Did the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) publish data suggesting that triple vaccinated people in England are developing a new form of AIDS? No, that's not true: The data does not show immune systems being destroyed by COVID-19 vaccines but instead how vaccine efficacy wanes over time.
COVID vaccines boost the ability of our bodies to fight coronavirus. They do not compromise our body's capacity to fight infections and other diseases. HIV, which causes AIDS, weakens our immune systems, making us more susceptible to them.
The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by The Exposé on April 5, 2022, under the title "Official Government data shows the Triple Vaccinated have suffered 80% Immune System Degradation as Vaccine Effectiveness falls to MINUS-391%; suggesting they are developing a new form of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome." It opened:
The body's immune system primarily defends one's body against infections like bacteria, viruses and parasites. But there are two broad categories of immune deficiency that hampers this defence: those that one is born with, and those that are acquired after birth.
Immune deficiency syndrome refers to a broad range of medical disorders that prevent your body from protecting itself from illnesses such as viruses and bacteria. There are a number of different types of congenital and acquired immune deficiency syndromes that can impact the body in a variety of ways.
Secondary (acquired) immune problems can result from many causes, including viral infections, malnutrition, metabolic disorders (like kidney disease), and cancer treatments or other medications.
Unfortunately, official data published by the UK Government strongly suggests the Covid-19 vaccines should be added to the list of causes of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
This is what the post looked like on The Exposé website on April 7, 2022:
(Source: The Exposé screenshot taken on Thu April 7 15:20:14 2022 UTC)
The claim is based on data published in the UKHSA's COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report Week 13, which was released on March 31, 2022.
Charts created for The Exposé article purport to illustrate a waning immune system caused by the COVID vaccines, but that's not what they're showing at all. Instead of being a measure of "immune system performance," they're showing vaccine efficacy or vaccine effectiveness (VE). The term "immune system performance" is not found in the 58-page report from the UKHSA, but yet The Exposé mentions it 18 times in the article. The writer muddies the waters by coming up with their own definition of what VE is. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines it as the "measure [of] the proportionate reduction in cases among vaccinated persons." The Exposé tells readers to ignore the health professionals and use their version of the definition instead:
However, vaccine effectiveness isn't really a measure of a vaccine, it is a measure of a vaccine recipients immune system performance compared to the immune system performance of an unvaccinated person.
In addition, The Exposé creates its own formula to calculate the numbers seen in the chart below:
(Source: The Exposé screenshot taken on Thu April 7 17:38:33 2022 UTC)
It's no secret vaccine effectiveness wanes over time. It's the reason many public health agencies around the world have endorsed boosters (here, here and here).
A portion of the UKHSA report cited in the article discusses VE after a booster shot (top of Page 8):
Data (based primarily on the Alpha and Delta variants) suggests 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.
This UKHSA blog shows vaccine effectiveness against the omicron variant.
Lead Stories has already debunked similar articles by The Exposé that misrepresented or used public health numbers in misleading ways.
COVID vaccines don't cause AIDS
The Exposé article says UKHSA data suggests triple-vaccinated people are developing "some new form of Covid-19 vaccine induced acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]," but that's not possible. In a February 11, 2022, email to Lead Stories, Dr. Stuart C. Ray, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said people vaccinated for COVID are at no risk of getting AIDS from the shot or booster:
There is no scientific basis for even speculating that the authorized and approved vaccines to prevent COVID-19 could cause AIDS.
In an email to Lead Stories on March 17, 2022, the UKHSA concurred:
- AIDS is caused by the HIV virus.
- If a vaccinated person gets infected with COVID-19, the protection provided by the vaccine means the level of virus replication may be lower, leading to milder infection and possibly lower N antibody levels. Lower N antibody values do not mean that the immune system has been damaged in any way. It shows that the vaccine is working and limiting COVID-19 infection.
- Vaccines efficacy reduces over time, that is why boosters are so important.
The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusions in the United Kingdom, said this in a February 23, 2022 email to Lead Stories:
The MHRA continuously monitors all the suspected side effects reported to us, alongside other information. We publish a summary of our data in our weekly report, and as you'll be able to see there is no association established between the COVID-19 vaccines and AIDS/VAIDS.
This is how the UK's National Health Service defines HIV and AIDS:
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system and weakens your ability to fight everyday infections and disease.
AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the name used to describe a number of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus. ...
Causes of HIV infection
HIV is found in the body fluids of an infected person. This includes semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood and breast milk.
It's a fragile virus and does not survive outside the body for long.
HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine or saliva.
The most common way of getting HIV in the UK is through having anal or vaginal sex without a condom.
COVID vaccines work the opposite of HIV and AIDS, according to the Imperial College of London. The shots help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID without someone having to get the illness. They boost a person's immunity to fight disease, not weaken it.
Lead Stories previously debunked other stories suggesting COVID vaccines cause AIDS (here, here and here).