FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims This Parasite Is In COVID-19 Vaccines
An image shared on Facebook over 700 times claims COVID-19 vaccines contain a parasite called Polypodium hydriforme.
The parasite Polypodium hydriforme, which infects sturgeon and paddlefish eggs, is not listed as an ingredient in any of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. Experts also refuted the claim about COVID-19 vaccines containing the parasite.
The viral post making the claim about COVID-19 vaccines containing Polypodium hydriforme further alleges graphene oxide in the vaccines helps the parasite grow faster. The post includes three black-and-white images that, according to the Central Arkansas Library System Encyclopedia of Arkansas, show a few stages of Polypodium hydriforme.
Polypodium hydriforme is a parasite related to jellyfish that infects the eggs of sturgeons and paddlefish, according to The Atlantic. The parasite is not listed among the ingredients published on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for any of the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S.
Other fact-checkers have previously debunked claims about COVID-19 vaccines containing other parasites. A spokesperson for the FDA told Check Your Fact in an email that the Facebook post’s claim is “completely false.”
Beth Okamura, a merit researcher at the U.K.’s Natural History Museum who has studied Polypodium hydriforme, called the claim “totally whacky” in an email to Check Your Fact. (RELATED: Does This Video Show A Doctor Removing A COVID-19 Vaccine From Someone’s Body Via Cupping?)
“The issue is essentially the ludicrous idea that any organism is in a covid-19 vaccine. The vaccines do not contain organisms whatsoever,” she went on to say. “They are basically designed on the basis of proteins that the immune system can recognise that occur on the surface of the virus that causes covid-19 (known as SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus).”
Tel Aviv University School of Zoology Associate Professor Dorothee Huchon also poured water on the claim in an email to Check Your Fact, saying Polypodium hydriforme is a “very obscure parasite” that infects caviar eggs. She noted that the parasite has “medusa that are ~2-5 mm in diameter” and that, theoretically, a person would be able to “see it with your eyes (dots floating in a liquid).”
“Then like any organism, it dies when it is frozen,” Huchon also pointed out in her email. “I really do not see how it could come alive from a previously frozen vaccine vial.”
Okamura and Huchon also told Check Your Fact there is no evidence Polypodium hydriforme infects humans and expressed skepticism that graphene oxide, a material made by oxidizing graphene, would help the parasite grow. Check Your Fact debunked the claim that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine contains graphene oxide back in July, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states, “All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals.”
“The ingredients for all three vaccines are, and have always been, publicly available,” Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, also confirmed to Check Your Fact via email. “There is no graphene oxide or parasites in any of the three vaccines that are approved or authorized for use in the USA.”