False claims based on the first autopsy of a dead person following vaccination

False claims based on the first autopsy of a dead person following vaccination


A pdf document is circulating on the social networks which, supposedly being based in the results of the first autopsy of a patient who died after receiving a vaccine against covid-19, makes false claims, such as immunisation did not avoid the virus to enter into all the body organs” or that “the vaccine did not work at all”. We dismantle them.

“The first autopsy of a person vaccinated against COVID-19, which was negative 18 days after the admission at the hospital but 24 days after being vaccinated, revealed that the viral RNA was found in almost all body organs. The vaccine, despite it triggered the immune response, did not stop the virus entering to all the body organs”

The official study on which the affirmation is based deals with the case of a 86-year-old man living in a nursing home who died four weeks after receiving the first dose from Pfizer. Although he did not present any specific symptoms of covid-19, he did test positive for SARS-CoV-2 before he died. The real cause of death was acute respiratory and renal insufficiency of bacterial origin. The relation of his death with coronavirus has not been proven.

These are the conclusions of the first autopsy of a patient who had received a vaccine against covid-19. The results were reported and subsequently published last June in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases together with a research paper in which scientists in Germany investigated the presence of viral RNA in the body of the deceased, delving into the real causes of death and calculating to what extent SARS-CoV-2 was a determining factor. 

The real causes of death

What the study says is that "our patient died of bacterial pneumonia, not covid-19, even though he tested positive for SARS-CoV-2," indicates lead researcher Torsten Harsen. This statement conflicts with the message you have sent us, which claims that the "vaccine does not work at all, or that the virus enjoys antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), which means that it actually spreads FASTER in vaccinated people". 

The authors make clear that their data suggest that “the immune response due to vaccination was able to prevent covid-19”, although a first dose of the vaccine can trigger a certain level of antibodies which is not enough to protect from a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Regarding antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), the message also gives a false fact: it says that what is observed in the different organs means that the vaccine-induced antibodies make the infection spread faster (the so-called ADE effect): "This is also wrong," says Adelaida Sarukhan, immunologist and science writer at the Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal in Catalan) in Barcelona. 

"All the clinical trials and the hundreds of millions of people vaccinated so far show that the vaccine generates good protection against infection and disease and that there is a strong correlation between this protection and the level of neutralising anti-Spike antibodies generated by the vaccine," he concludes. 

Recall that ADE is a rather paradoxical phenomenon: it causes our immune system's antibodies, which are supposed to fight infections in the body, to turn against it, even making the disease worse.

A study used to misinform

Shortly after the publication of his research, Harsen issued a statement dismantling some of the false claims that had been published about his work, especially those of radio presenter Hal Turner, through the podcast he hosts, as explained by the verification agency FactCheck.org, a member of the International Fact-checking Network as Verificat. 

Now, a person whose identity is unknown, has rescued Turner's statements and translated them into Spanish, sharing a document with these disinformations through several Telegram groups. For example, the text states that "the vaccine, although it triggered an immune response, did not stop the virus from entering all the organs of the body". Not true: in the scientific text, the researchers say they found viral RNA in almost all the organs "analysed", which in the words of the study leader himself to Verificat, were "only nine" (oropharynx, olfactory mucosa, trachea, lungs, heart, kidney and brain, except liver and olfactory bulb), of which they only found traces of virus RNA in seven (all except liver and olfactory bulb).