Fact Check: CDC Did NOT 'Just Dramatically' Change Their Claims About MRNA Vaccine Safety

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: CDC Did NOT 'Just Dramatically' Change Their Claims About MRNA Vaccine Safety Not Sneaky

Did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "just dramatically" change their claims about mRNA vaccine safety? No, that's not true: While the public health agency did remove information from a COVID-19 vaccine website that said, "The mRNA and the spike protein do not last long in the body," it doesn't represent "a change to the science of how the mRNA vaccines work," the CDC said in an August 15, 2022, email to Lead Stories. The CDC added the mRNA from the vaccines is still broken down "a few days after vaccination."

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published on the Substack blog Bad Cattitude on August 13, 2022, titled "CDC (quietly) removes a massive claim on vaccine safety." It opened:

when assessing the filings of anything from companies to pharmaceuticals much of the interesting information is conveyed in the changes. what has been added? what has been taken out?

you catch a company taking text out of a 10-K in some friday night filing and you know they wanted to bury it.

well buckle up, because the CDC just dramatically changed their claims about mRNA vaccine safety and this one is a doozie.

This is what the article looked like on Substack at the time of writing:

bad cat.png

(Source: Substack screenshot taken on Tue Aug 16 17:47:49 2022 UTC)

A nearly identical claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by The Gateway Pundit on August 14, 2022, titled "CDC Quietly Removes Statement that Says 'mRNA and the Spike Protein Do Not Last Long in the Body' from Their Website." It opened:

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken down from its website the statement that states 'mRNA and the spike protein do not last long in the body.'

On July 15, the CDC quietly modified its website, removing the section that suggested mRNA and spike protein do not last in human bodies.

This is what the article looked like on The Gateway Pundit website at the time of writing:


(Source: The Gateway Pundit screenshot taken on Tue Aug 16 17:09:16 2022 UTC)

Website change

While the CDC did make changes to its website, it wasn't on July 15, 2022. It happened a week later on July 22, 2022. As reported in both the blog and article, the public health agency removed a portion of a page that included the line: "The mRNA and the spike protein do not last long in the body." This is how the "Facts About mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines" section appeared (archived here) before it was edited by the CDC:

One blue.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tues Aug 16 15:33:37 2022 UTC)

This is how the same section of the webpage appeared on August 16, 2022, and how it has looked since the evening of July 22, 2022:


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tues Aug 16 15:47:05 2022 UTC)

Although the section containing "The mRNA and the spike protein do not last long in the body" was removed in the update, some of the same information can be found elsewhere on the page:

[O]ur cells break down the mRNA and remove it, leaving the body as waste.

In an August 16, 2022, email to Lead Stories, CDC Press Officer Scott Pauley explained why the changes were made:

CDC routinely reviews our webpage information to ensure we have consistent and up-to-date recommendations. In an effort to make all COVID-19 vaccine webpages consistent, information on the Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines webpage was adjusted and a portion was removed. However, this was not a change to the science of how the mRNA vaccines work. The mRNA from these vaccines are broken down by the cells that interpret this coding, and the process takes a few days after vaccination.

All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are effective at preventing COVID-19, and CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older ... stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, which includes getting boosters if eligible.

Dr. James Lawler with the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center echoed the CDC, telling Lead Stories in an August 16, 2022, email that there hasn't been a sudden shift in how the human body processes COVID vaccines:

The idea of persistent mRNA or spike protein after COVID vaccination gets recycled regularly by conspiracy theorists. I am not aware of any new data in that space. We know that any naked RNA in cells and in circulation is chopped up quickly [in the body] - so vaccine mRNA persistence defies what we know about biology. And if people are worried about spike protein flying around, they should be much more concerned with COVID-19 disease vs vaccination. We know people have high burden of spike protein associated with replicating SARS-CoV-2 virus (in other words, being infected and having COVID-19 disease). The presence and persistence of spike protein with INFECTION (not vaccination) appears to be associated with long COVID (in at least some cases).



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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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