Fact Check: Moderna Did NOT 'Confirm' That Its mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Cause Cancer

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich
Fact Check: Moderna Did NOT 'Confirm' That Its mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Cause Cancer Didn't Happen

Did Moderna admit that its COVID-19 mRNA vaccines cause cancer? No, that's not true: Moderna made no such admission that its COVID mRNA vaccines are contaminated, nor that that they cause cancer or birth defects. There is no publicly available credible evidence that any mRNA vaccines cause cancer, a doctor of infectious disease told Lead Stories. A "study" the cancer claim was based on seems to be a rumor, an expert in public health policy told Lead Stories. Health experts agree that COVID vaccines are safe and effective.

A version of the claim originated in an article published by The Exposé on December 2, 2023, (archive) titled, "Moderna confirms COVID mRNA Vaccines cause Cancer." An introduction to the article read:

Moderna has admitted its mRNA COVID vaccine causes CANCER after billions of DNA fragments were found in vials of the dangerous injection.

The revelation was made after Dr. Robert Malone recently made an appearance at an 'Injuries Caused by COVID-19 Vaccines' hearing led by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), at which he revealed how Moderna's patent shows that its (COVID-19) 'vaccine' vials contain billions of DNA fragments and other contaminants linked to birth defects and cancer.

Below is how the post appeared at the time of writing:

image (1).png

(Source: The Exposé screenshot taken Wed Dec 6 08:23:00 UTC 2023)

"There is no credible evidence that any of the mRNA vaccines cause cancer," wrote Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in an email received December 8, 2023. He added:

The vaccine safety network that we have in the US is the best in the world. Millions of doses of mRNA vaccines have been administered and none of the vaccine safety alert systems have indicated any increased cancer risk of any kind. The vaccine safety systems in other countries confirm this negative result.

As of December 9, 2023, Moderna had not confirmed that their COVID mRNA vaccines were contaminated, nor that there was any evidence to suggest that they cause cancer or birth defects. As of this writing, health experts agreed that COVID vaccines are safe and effective.

The Exposé article cited a so-called hearing held on November 13, 2023, (archive) that was recorded by RSB Network and later reposted to X on November 14, 2023 (archive). A caption with the post read, in part, "Moderna ADMITS That DNA Contamination Can Lead to Cancer," including that:

A new study up for peer review has found billions of residual DNA fragments in COVID-19 mRNA vaccine vials. In other words, the vials are contaminated with DNA. These findings were not disclosed to the public.

Lead Stories did not find any record of the cited "study" and thus could not confirm that it was up for peer review. Dr. Matthew Laurens, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, confirmed as much to Lead Stories, adding that the study "seems to be a rumor."

Here's how we know that such claims are false.

Moderna did NOT acknowledge mRNA presents a risk of mutagenesis

Mutagenesis refers to the production of genetic mutations and, in the case of the claim, it was argued that such mutations could lead to oncogenes, a mutated gene that could cause cancer or inhibit genes that naturally suppress tumors.

There's no evidence that either of these outcomes is valid. According to an article in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery that Dr. Drew Weissman, co-discoverer of mRNA vaccine technology, co-wrote: "mRNA is a non-infectious, non-integrating platform, there is no potential risk of infection or insertional mutagenesis."

mRNA-based vaccines carry a "recipe" that a cell uses to make a "foreign" protein that then stimulates an immune response against a pathogen of interest, explained Laurens in an email received on December 9, 2023. The mRNA is then degraded and does not persist long-term inside of a cell. He added:

mRNA vaccines are made using a DNA template, and residual DNA is removed during the manufacturing process by comprehensive purification and filtration steps that are verified through routine testing for quality control. Very low levels of DNA may remain in the final product, but there is no evidence that these very small residual amounts have led to any untoward effects.

Like mRNA vaccines, there are DNA-based vaccines being used and developed for many purposes, including cancer treatment. Unlike mRNA vaccines, DNA vaccines carry a higher theoretical risk of integration within a cell's DNA. This is a theoretical risk for all DNA-based vaccines. For this reason, DNA vaccines are carefully and comprehensively tested for this possibility of integration before they are approved for human use.

NO evidence COVID vaccines are contaminated

As of the most recently available Moderna fact sheet (archive) published by the Food and Drug Administration on August 31, 2022, the SPIKEVAX (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA), Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent contain the following ingredients:

... messenger ribonucleic acid(mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate trihydrate, and sucrose.

There is no evidence that COVID vaccines cause cancer or birth defects, as of December 9, 2023.

"Despite billions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines (both mRNA and DNA-based vaccines) being given since the pandemic, saving millions of lives worldwide, no safety concerns regarding DNA integration have been detected, including in the hundreds of thousands of people who were carefully studied as part of clinical trials," Laurens told Lead Stories.

A Google News search (archive) of the thousands of sites indexed by Google News, using the keywords "Moderna admits mRNA vaccines cause cancer, birth defects, DNA mutagenesis" produced no credible independent reports supporting the claim. If Moderna had made such an admission, it would have been a significant news event with widespread coverage.

Lead Stories contacted Moderna by email and will update this article should a response be received.

COVID vaccines are deemed safe and effective

Though vaccines can have side effects, there are safeguards required by law to ensure that vaccines are safe, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Those measures also ensure that the safety and efficacy of vaccines are monitored after approval for potential adverse health events.

"Baseless claims made by uninformed individuals who do not understand the science and safety of vaccines should receive less attention. Multiple avenues exist for reporting potential safety events related to vaccines and vaccination that are carefully examined on an ongoing basis, supported by the U.S. CDC and other government agencies," Laurens wrote.

"If a safety concern arises, these agencies will appropriately provide factual information to the public through official channels."

Yes, the 2023-24 COVID vaccine is also safe and effective, wrote Chief Medical Epidemiologist Mini Kamboj in an October 2, 2023, blog published by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

For the 2023-24 season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended (archive) everyone 5 years old and older get one dose of an updated COVID vaccine, and immunocompromised or children between 6 months and 4 years old to get a full schedule. At the time of writing, the agency recommended three vaccines available on the U.S. market: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax,

Lead Stories previously has debunked dozens of stories by The Exposé: Here are those carrying COVID misinformation.

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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.

  Madison Dapcevich

Raised on an island in southeast Alaska, Madison grew up a perpetually curious tidepooler and has used that love of science and innovation in her now full-time role as a science reporter for the fact-checking publication Lead Stories.

Read more about or contact Madison Dapcevich

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