FALSE: Conspiracy theory that COVID-19 vaccines’ spike proteins are ‘cytotoxic’ debunked by experts
by: Russell FalconPosted: Aug 15, 2021 / 05:15 PM CDT / Updated: Aug 15, 2021 / 04:33 PM CDT
(KXAN) — Misinformation alert: A video that’s currently circulating social media claims the spike proteins contained in COVID-19 vaccines kill or damage your body’s cells — but medical experts say there’s no evidence to support the statement.
That video from a Canadian talk radio show purports to reveal that spike proteins in the vaccines break down cells, allowing the proteins bind and infect the vaccinated. Some such claims are even made by Dr. Robert Malone, the self-proclaimed “inventor of mRNA technology” (more on that later).
The video interview relies heavily on claims made by Canadian viral immunologist Dr. Byram Bridle, who claimed COVID-19 vaccines produce “toxins” that can travel to the brain. In his often-cited quote, Bridle said, “We made a big mistake. We didn’t realize it until now, we thought the spike protein was a great target antigen.” But countless researchers dispute this.
The biggest strike against the claim is simple: None of the vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) even contain live COVID-19 or its spike proteins. Instead, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to tell the body how to attack spike proteins by creating small amounts afterward. Medical researchers and doctors say these amounts are nearly insignificant and not unlike other existing vaccines.
Another of Bridle’s claims is that the vaccines — and the proteins experts agree they don’t have — can travel from the shoulder and to other areas of the body, causing damage.
Dr. Adam Ratner, pediatric infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Health, explained to AP: “What was said in the radio show was completely inaccurate… the amounts [of spike proteins] that are made after the mRNA is injected are very small and it almost exclusively stays locally. It is nowhere near the amount he was talking about.”
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains: “Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19. At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection.”
Several photos of a Nature Neuroscience study are widely shared on Facebook and other platforms feature a fake title of the study, “The S1 protein of SARS-CoV-2 crosses the blood–brain barrier in mice,” and instead is doctored to read, “Spike as Toxin.” The mice study from December 2020 is real, but found that proteins from the virus — not the vaccine — could enter the brain of mice injected with SARS-CoV-2.
The study’s lead author, Dr. William A. Banks, concluded that this could possibly add more context as to why COVID-19 patients have trouble breathing, saying that the virus — not the vaccine — likely enters respiratory centers in the brain. Banks also explained to the peer-reviewed Psychiatric Times that protein entry could also explain why some recovered COVID-19 patients experience brain fog.
Based on recent data, researchers are increasingly understanding how COVID-19 infection affects the brain — though some more recent findings suggest it can be more difficult for the virus to access the brain than previously thought.