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Correcting this week’s misinformation: week of February 9, 2023

Amputation and vaccination

The Claim:

An anti-vaccine Twitter account claims that mRNA COVID-19 vaccination caused a twenty-one-year-old model to have adverse medical events leading to amputation.

The Facts:

There is no valid connection between her amputation and vaccination.

The model was born with congenital heart disease. She did receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, but the vaccine cannot provide 100% effective protection against a mutating virus. Seven months later, she contracted COVID-19. The combination of COVID disease and her congenital heart condition caused her to develop a complication called rhabdomyolysis. Because her heart was already weak and vulnerable, the complication progressed into myocarditis, kidney failure, and severe dehydration. Eventually, the rhabdomyolysis resulted in leg amputations.

As she explains in an interview:

That Twitter account did not have permission to use my story. He … left out key information so he could twist my story to push his personal agenda.”

Women's health and vaccination

The Claim:

A political figure suggests in a tweet that inflamed lymph nodes following vaccination is a reason for concern and claims that many things are still unknown about the effects of COVID vaccination regarding women’s health.

The Facts:

A former National Security Advisor seems very concerned that a mammogram showed inflamed lymph nodes following COVID vaccine administration.

Perhaps he would be relieved to know that swollen or inflamed lymph nodes following vaccination are a positive indication that the vaccine is working.

A vaccine’s job is to elicit an immune response, which can result in inflamed lymph nodes as part of innate immunity. Lymph nodes are made up of cells that fight infections. When these cells come across foreign invaders (or in the case of vaccines, specific antigens), they are introduced to other immune cells so the invading cells can be identified and targeted. If your lymph nodes are swollen or inflamed after a vaccine, it tells you your vaccine is working.

Reproductive health and mRNA vaccine

The Claim:

A “whistleblower” group on Twitter has shared a video of Pfizer’s director of research and development, claiming the video reveals fertility concerns related to the length of time mRNA stays in the body

The Facts:

Project Veritas, a self-described far-right activist group, captured Pfizer’s director of research and development in an undercover “gotcha” interview. The video is presented as his “admission” that mRNA vaccine affects women’s menstrual cycles and causes fertility concerns.

He does admit that menstrual cycles are impacted by the mRNA COVID vaccine. Studies have shown a link between COVID-19 vaccination and menstrual cycle length, but the changes are temporary and within a normal range of variation. There have also been studies into fertility which do not show any correlation between COVID vaccine and reduced fertility.

The tweet’s suggestion that mRNA lingers in the body is taken out of context. The mRNA molecule is very unstable and is quickly broken down by the body. In the video, when he says, “I hope we don’t find that mRNA lingers in the body,” he isn’t actually concerned that they will. Rather, he appears to be enjoying the conversation and prompted by the interviewer to throw out worst-case scenarios.

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