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VERIFY: Vaccines do not create new COVID-19 variants

“Vaccine shedding” is real, but only happens if the vaccine was made with a weakened version of the virus. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — As the delta variant continues to spread throughout the nation, experts are urging everyone to get vaccinated. Before you decide whether or not to get vaccinated, it’s important to make sure you have the most accurate information from experts to make an informed decision.

COVID-19 variants are emerging, but how?

Some critics attribute these new variants to the COVID-19 vaccines.

THE QUESTION

Do COVID-19 vaccines “shed” the virus and cause COVID-19 variants?

SOURCES

THE ANSWER

No, none of the three COVID-19 vaccines in the US contain live coronavirus, so there’s nothing for vaccinated people to “shed.” The virus is only shed from those infected with COVID-19.

WHAT WE FOUND

“Vaccine shedding” is real, but it can only happen if the vaccine was made with a weakened version of the virus.

All three COVID-19 vaccines used in the US do not contain the live virus, so experts say, they can’t shed the virus.

Pfizer's and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines contain M-RNA, which teaches the immune system to create the spike protein present on the surface of the coronavirus, but these spike proteins are free of any virus. This elicits an immune response, and the body produces antibodies to fight the virus if it’s exposed to it.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine uses a harmless adenovirus to carry genetic code for your cells to create those spike proteins found on the coronavirus. Once the body replicates those spike proteins, it again produces antibodies that can fight COVID-19 if the body is exposed to it.

“In the future, should you ever truly get exposed to COVID, your body quickly recognizes that spike protein on the surface and it goes out and destroys it before it can replicate and cause problems, including symptomatic infection,” explained Dr. Chirag Patel, Assistant Chief Medical Officer at UF Health.

Dr. Patel added that those spike proteins are not capable of causing any disease.

For these reasons, we are going to verify the claim that COVID-19 vaccines shed the virus and cause COVID-19 variants as false.

None of the three COVID-19 vaccines contain live coronavirus, and spike proteins cannot be transmitted to another person, so there’s nothing for vaccinated people to “shed.” 

The virus is only shed from those infected with COVID-19.

So what is causing COVID-19 variants?

Dr. Patel said the virus mutates as it jumps from one person to another in an effort to survive.

“If we all can create an immune response that will destroy the virus before it jumps to the next person, we can actually stop this,” Patel said.