Salut, Covid-19, Vacunes
A documentary entitled The Big Reset, which claims that the pandemic is a "media campaign of fear" orchestrated by powerful groups with the aim of eliminating fundamental rights and freedoms, has been going viral on social media for several months. The release of the second part of the video has already been announced. We verified eight misinformation claims in the documentary.
"Wuhan is a national security warfare laboratory"
Wuhan is a Chinese city, which since 1956 has been home to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a research center belonging to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and originally called the Wuhan Microbiology Laboratory. It is a high biosafety level laboratory (BSL-4) that is part of the Chinese government and not a warfare center. As we already explained, its activities are focused in five research fields 1) aetiology and epidemiology of emerging infectious diseases; 2) molecular virology; 3) immunovirology; 4) analytical microbiology of pathogens; 5) agricultural and environmental microbiology.
"The PCR test has been used to diagnose a disease, when this test does not never diagnose a disease”
In the context of this pandemic, the PCR test is used to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 in our body. Based on the result, the test makes it possible to diagnose patients suffering from the virus-derived disease, covid-19, with a clinical condition (symptoms) and those who are asymptomatic. Thus, PCR makes it possible to confirm that a symptomatic person is indeed suffering from the disease.
The technique consists of photocopying the genetic material extracted from a patient until there are millions or billions of copies. By doing so it can be analysed and a highly reliable result can be obtained. As we have already explained, it is the main test used by health authorities around the world to monitor the evolution of the pandemic.
This technique, which stands for polymerase chain reaction, was invented in the 1980s by American chemist Kary Mullis and revolutionised molecular medicine with its ability to analyse DNA. The discovery made him win the Nobel Prize in 1993.
"The Corman-Drosten test does indeed appear to be a test designed to give a high number of false positives"
In January 2020, a few weeks after SARS-CoV-2 was detected in China and the World Health Organisation issued guidelines for diagnostic testing, German virologists Victor Corman and Christian Drosten published a protocol for detecting the virus with PCR testing. This guideline has allowed laboratories around the world to configure their material based on the characteristics of this new coronavirus. The National Spanish Research Council (CSIC in spanish) has assessed the PCR test as "a vital tool to determine the extent of the covid-19 pandemic" because it is the one that offers "the greatest reliability".
"The genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 cannot be confused with the genetic material of other viruses, so the covid-19 test is highly specific. This means that it almost never gives a false positive. If you test positive for covid-19, you can be pretty sure that you are infected with the virus," explains a paper from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), which highlights that a false negative result (if the PCR is not performed correctly or if not enough time has passed since infection) is more likely than a false positive.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 5,778,622 PCR tests have been carried out in Catalonia and 377,074 positive tests have been detected, according to data from the Department of Health. This means that, on average, 6.53% of the PCR tests were positive, but the percentage of positivity has changed a lot between the beginning and the end of the pandemic due to the high number of infections and the limited availability of tests during the first months. By 22 April, five weeks after the declaration of the state of alert, Spain had carried out one million PCR tests for its 48 million inhabitants, as announced by President Pedro Sánchez at the time, while more people were infected than detected.
"Covid-19 mRNA vaccines develop a process in cells that is also used to create transgenic organisms and has never been used in humans before".
The EU has so far approved vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford and Janssen. The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna formulations are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, a technology that teaches cells to produce a protein, or a piece of protein, to trigger an immune response in the body.
"Our DNA, our chromosomes, are inside the nucleus of the cell and the nucleus is protected by a membrane that is very selective when it comes to letting material through," biochemist Julià Blanco, who heads the Virology and Cellular Immunology group at the IrsiCaixa Research Institute, explained to Verificat. "The mRNA stays inside the cytoplasm (the part that surrounds the nucleus) and there it creates the protein (of the virus to generate the immune response). It is not possible for mRNA to modify our genetic code. Our DNA is stored inside the nucleus like a safe box and it is impossible for mRNA to modify our genetic code. It makes no biological sense to talk about mRNA vaccines making us transgenic”.
In response to reports that mRNA vaccine technology is the same as that used to create transgenic animals and plants, Blanco is categorical. "When you make transgenic animals or plants you use DNA, it's a technique that directly touches the genetic code of the animal or plant," unlike mRNA, which never reaches the DNA of human cells. "You will never make a transgenic animal or a transgenic plant using mRNA, it is literally impossible," he underlined.
CRISPR/Cas9 technology, which won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020, may be at the root of the confusion because it does allow an RNA molecule to enter DNA, despite the fact that "our cells do not have the CRISPR machinery to be able to do so. This machinery is only present in bacteria," said Julià. The technique has nothing to do with how vaccines against covid-19 work.
On the other hand, the researcher noted that it is true that mRNA technology had never been massively used in humans before the covid-19 vaccination campaign, but it had been tested in clinical trials. "mRNA vaccines had been tested in human clinical trials but on a small scale. It had also been tested in vaccines against cancer, HIV or rabies”.
"It is expected that there may be effects at the level of fertility or fertility inhibition as one of the side effects of vaccination".
The manufacturers of covid-19 vaccines do not foresee fertility problems as a side effect. This has been corroborated by drug regulatory agencies when authorising their use. In fact, the experts agree there is no evidence supporting this. "No vaccine that has been approved (so far in the world) generates alterations in fertility. It is more likely that there are alterations in fertility due to natural infection (of the virus) than due to the vaccines themselves," said the biochemist from the IrsiCaixa institute.
As the scientist explained to Verificat, SARS-CoV-2 uses the ACE2 enzyme to enter our organism, a human protein that regulates the hormone angiotensin, which in turn adjusts -among other things- blood pressure. "When we are infected, this enzyme is expressed in reproductive tissue and, therefore, the virus can affect reproductive tissue," points out Blanco, who says that "some case" has been reported, but assures that neither the vaccines nor the antibodies generated by the vaccines will impact on this enzyme.
"The global health crisis does not exist when 0.021% of the world's population is dying".
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines crises as times when states' public systems are unable to ensure the health or livelihoods of large parts of their populations. It cites as examples the Ebola virus in West Africa, the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the nuclear crisis in Japan in 2011, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, and the earthquake in Nepal in 2015. In the case of covid-19, the WHO declared the new coronavirus a pandemic in March last year because of the number of infections and deaths worldwide, as well as the projection of the disease in the weeks to come.
Experts have always claimed that the mortality rate of SARS-CoV-2 is low. In fact, as of 18 March, 2.68 million people, or 0.034% of the world's population, had died. The health crisis, however, is linked to the pressure of care that hospitals and medical centres have been under since the start of the pandemic. As of 17 March, 324,046 people had been admitted to hospital in Spain for covid-19 alone, of whom 28,930 have been in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The percentage of occupied beds varies according to outbreaks and waves of the virus, which stresses the health network and the capacity to care for all patients. On the other hand, 72,793 people have officially died of covid-19 in the last year, that is, they tested positive in some kind of diagnostic test before death. The National Statistics Institute (INE) also noted that between 16 March and 27 December 2020, 80,203 more people died in the previous year, as we explained here.
As a part of the health crisis it is also included the lack of material that most countries suddenly faced in the fight against the virus. In this regard, the Spanish government reported the arrival of masks, gloves, personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory equipment, among other things, during the first months of the pandemic.
"We are a large clinical trial and the vaccines are experimental".
The development of any drug consists of a standardised procedure with a research part, phases I, II and III of the clinical trial and the evaluations stage, authorisations and follow-up. As we have already explained, vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford and Janssen, among others, have been approved for use. In other words, the various drug regulatory agencies have evaluated the data from the pharmaceutical companies after conducting trials and proved that the candidate formulations meet three key requirements: safety, efficacy and quality. Therefore, once authorisations have been granted, the vaccines are no longer experimental.
The so-called phase IV is the pharmacosurveillance stage, that is, the monitoring of the long-term effects of a medicine once it is on the market. This is the point where the covid-19 vaccines are right now. As a result, the people being vaccinated are not part of any large clinical trial.
"Vaccination is not the solution"
The WHO considers vaccination "the safe and effective way to prevent disease and save lives". According to its data, there are currently some 20 formulations that help to combat, among others, influenza, measles, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. In total "these vaccines save three million lives every year".
SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted by respiratory secretions, such as a cough or sneeze, from an infected person. These secretions can infect another person if they come into contact with their nose, eyes or mouth. As of 18 March, 121 million people have been infected worldwide, although an unknown number have been infected and have not developed symptoms. Due to its rapid transmission, its capacity for mutation and the serious effects that some people can suffer -even death- the vaccine is considered the best option to fight this virus by the WHO, the European Union and the Spanish Ministry of Health. The latter reminds us that the act of vaccinating helps to control, eliminate or even eradicate diseases, as well as preventing complications of certain infectious diseases or cancers, and that it is an act of solidarity to protect the community as a whole.
Smallpox, a highly contagious disease that caused millions of deaths over 3,000 years, is the first infectious disease to be eradicated, the WHO declared in 1980 after an intensive worldwide vaccination campaign. It was transmitted by inhaling aerosols from the nose or mouth of an infected person. Africa was last year declared free of poliomyelitis, a highly contagious viral disease that attacks the nervous system, thanks to vaccines, but it is still present in other parts of the world such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it is considered as endemic.
Aquest article és part del projecte "Les Mentides Amenacen la Salut", el primer portal de fact-checking de rumors sobre la covid-19 de Catalunya.