Are snake and starfish venom found in COVID-19 vaccines? No, that's not true: The claim is based on the false belief that one component of venom is the same as venom, not just a component in the whole. In fact, this component can be naturally produced by other organisms, such as the human body. There is no evidence that COVID vaccines contain venom.
The claim appeared in an Instagram post on October 31, 2022. The caption said:
Crown of thorns starfish VENOM is in the #covid jab along with many other SERPENT venoms. Note the starfish is purple just like the color Lord had on while he bore his crown of thorns. My Saviour will return with many crowns as the KING OF KINGS. THE WORLD WAS BAPTIZED FOR JUDAS.
Here is what the post looked like at the time of writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon Oct 31 15:53:48 2022 UTC)
This new post does not contain any evidence supporting its claim.
In addition, the chart below the picture makes no references to COVID vaccines.
Instead, the table mentions phospholipase A2, an enzyme initially found in the 19th century in snake venom. However, the statement that one of the venom's components is the same as venom is misleading.
Within the past 50 years, it has been well documented that the same enzyme can be found in other places, for example, the tissues of mammals. Today it's associated with the body's natural response to inflammation. Here is how the Protein Data Bank, an educational website, describes the process:
Phospholipase A2 breaks membrane lipids, forming molecules that contribute to inflammation and pain signaling
According to Pfizer's email, received by Lead Stories on October 31, 2022, the claim misleads about the components of COVID-19 vaccines:
Starfish and snake venoms are not a component of the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any live material and is completely synthetic.
Lead Stories also reached out to another major manufacturer of COVID vaccines, Moderna. When we receive a response, this story will be updated as appropriate.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about coronavirus can be found here.