Did a 2023 "government report" prove that "millions of children" who were vaccinated with the Pfizer mRNA COVID-19 vaccine developed a condition known as "vaccine acquired immune deficiency, or VAIDS"? No, that's not true: There was no "government report." A site with a rich history of spreading false statements distorted a genuine Australian study. In response to the claim, the research study's authors released a statement saying, "Any suggestion that our exploratory study implies that COVID-19 vaccines cause a harmful suppression of children's immune system is a naïve and misguided oversimplification of our findings ..." Also, a microbiologist not affiliated with the study analyzed it at the request of Lead Stories and confirmed that VAIDS is not a genuine condition, and the study in question made no mention of the fictitious disease.
The claim originated in a post published by The People's Voice in a Sept. 2, 2023, article (archived here), titled, "Gov't Admit 'Millions of Children Now Have VAIDS' - Media Blackout." An introduction to the article read:
Millions of children around the world vaccinated with Pfizer's mRNA Covid vaccine have developed vaccine acquired immune deficiency, or VAIDS, according to a bombshell government report.
According to a study conducted by Australian researchers published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers, titled, 'BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccination in children alters cytokine responses to heterologous pathogens and Toll-like receptor agonists,' scientists tested the cytokine responses of 29 children aged 5-11 before their first dose of Pfizer BioNTech's jab and 28 days after their second dose.
Below is how the post appeared at the time of writing:
(Source: The People's Voice screenshot taken Mon Sep 4 19:46:00 2023 UTC)
The People's Voice article largely relied on a study -- not a government report -- whose findings were distorted to argue that COVID vaccines result in a decrease in immune response, described as the fictitious disease VAIDS.
The study determined that some laboratory tests of blood samples (in vitro) taken from 29 children who were vaccinated against COVID showed a cytokine response, or changes to certain molecules following immunization.
The study authors confirmed the findings were misreported
In response to an inquiry from Lead Stories, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, the study's hosting institution, referred us to a statement published by study authors Professor Nigel Curtis, Dr. Nicole Messina and Dr. Andrés Noé on September 6, 2023 (archived here):
It has been brought to our attention that our recently published study is being misinterpreted and misused to claim that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous. Our research does not provide any evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful to the immune system of children or adults. In particular, it is incorrect to suggest that our study results show that COVID-19 vaccines 'suppress the immune system'.
In blood taken from children one and six months after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, in laboratory experiments, we observed changes in cytokine production by immune cells in response to challenge with various pathogens. These cytokine responses are only one facet of the body's combined immune response and we do not know how long they last. We did not investigate the clinical consequence of these changes, which could just as easily be beneficial (e.g., by reducing harmful inflammation) as undesirable. We have found similar changes in the immune response after BCG vaccination in infants, in whom BCG vaccination is associated with generalised protection against infectious diseases and eczema in high-risk settings.
Any suggestion that our exploratory study implies that COVID-19 vaccines cause a harmful suppression of children's immune system is a naïve and misguided oversimplification of our findings, and ignores other studies that do not support this concept.
The study tested cytokine response in 29 in vitro blood samples
Stanley Perlman, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, studies the development of coronavirus infections, including SARS-CoV-2. He was not involved in the study above and confirmed to Lead Stories that the article was a misrepresentation of the study findings.
"[The article] inappropriately draws a conclusion from the data, far beyond what the authors conclude. There is no evidence of immunodeficiency after vaccination or that these Frontier results indicate that immunodeficiency should or does occur. In addition, other possible confounding factors are not considered in the Frontier [study] article," Perlman told Lead Stories in an email received on September 6, 2023.
Published on August 25, 2023, in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers, the study authors concluded that:
BNT162b2 vaccination in children alters cytokine responses to heterologous stimulants, particularly one month after vaccination. This study is the first to report the immunological heterologous effects of COVID-19 vaccination in children.
What the study determined was that there "were changes in inflammatory molecule expression after stimulation with specific proteins. The meaning of these findings is unknown and given the small number of patients, the generality is not known," Perlman wrote.
Regardless of the findings, Perlman added that one cannot extrapolate "millions of children" from 29 blood samples.
"Twenty-nine children would be considered small for any study demonstrating prevalence. That being said, extrapolation might be acceptable in some studies even with these small numbers (but not this one)," he said.
COVID vaccines do not cause VAIDS because it is a fake disease
Nowhere in the cited study was there a mention of "vaccine acquired immune deficiency" or "VAIDS" because it is a fake disease that was not included in the research. Lead Stories also searched the study for mention of "human immunodeficiency virus infection," "HIV," "acquired immune deficiency syndrome," AIDS" and "immunodeficiency" but found no results. That's because the study in question did not study these conditions and there is no known connection to COVID vaccines.
As Lead Stories has previously reported, only one thing causes AIDS and that is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is not the same as the virus responsible for COVID, SARS-CoV-2.
There is no evidence from clinical trials or from the field following worldwide use of currently available COVID-19 vaccines that COVID-19 vaccination causes any type of immunosuppression in any population group.
It is not possible for COVID-19 vaccines to cause AIDS, which is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Suggestions that COVID-19 vaccination can cause a similar immunosuppressed outcome, which some have dubbed 'VAIDS,' are not based on any observed or reported evidence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website answered a similar question, "Do COVID-19 vaccines increase the risk of someone getting HIV?":
No. There is no association between COVID-19 vaccines and risk for HIV infection. COVID-19 vaccines improve the immune system's ability to prevent COVID-19 and protect vaccinated people from the more severe complications of COVID-19.
There was no 'government report'
The People's Voice article cited a "government report," yet only included a link to the Australian study. The article did not reference the title of the alleged report, where it was conducted from and whom it was supposedly published by.
Lead Stories also searched Google Scholar, a web search engine that indexes the full text of scholarly literature, using the term "Millions of Children Now Have VAIDS," which returned no relevant results. Similarly, a search through the comprehensive up-to-date news aggregate Google News using the same keywords did not return any credible reports.
Perlman added that there was no such government report to his knowledge.
The People's Voice
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Other Lead Stories fact checks about COVID vaccines can be found here.
Other Lead Stories articles on claims in The People's Voice are here.