FACT CHECK: Does The Moderna Vaccine Contain Luciferin?

Matthew Schoch | Contributor

An image shared on Facebook claims Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine contains “Luciferin dissolved with 66.6 ml of distilled phosphate buffer solution.”


Verdict: False. 

Luciferin is not an ingredient in the Moderna vaccine, according to the emergency use authorization document issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some scientists used luciferase in order to study COVID-19.

Fact Check:

The post shares what appears to be a screen grab of a now-deleted tweet from Disclose.tv, an open-forum website, that reads: “Holy hell mRNA vaccine by Moderna contains *Luciferin* dissolved with *66.6* ml of distilled *phosphate* buffer solution.” The tweet includes two links: one that leads to a patent for “Delivery and formulation of engineered nucleic acids,” and another to a page about Luciferin on Science Direct.

Luciferin is “a small molecule generated in bioluminescent organisms,” according to Science Direct, and is found in fireflies. Scientists can use luciferin, as well as the enzyme luciferase to study viral infections, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. (RELATED: Do Only Viruses Made In Laboratories Require Vaccines?)

Luciferin, however, is not one of the ingredients in the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Check Your Fact reviewed the emergency use authorization document for the Moderna vaccine issued by the FDA, which included a list of ingredients in the vaccine, and found no mention of Luciferin. A list of Moderna’s vaccine ingredients published by Hackensack Meridian Health further confirmed Luciferin is not found in the vaccine.

While luciferin is not found in the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, luciferase, an enzyme that produces light when it oxidizes luciferin, has been used in studies to find tests and treatments for COVID-19. Scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston used luciferase to work on faster diagnostic COVID-19 tests, accelerate vaccine development and to test the effectiveness of treatments for the virus, a July 2020 article posted by the university reported.

University of South Florida (USF) scientists also used luciferase to study COVID-19, using the enzyme to trace “how much proxy COVID-virus invades human cells and which cells are most vulnerable,” according to USF Health College of Public Health.

As of press time, 237 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S., and over 99 million people are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moderna did not respond to requests for comment.

Matthew Schoch