Earlier this year, misinformation linked to the XBB.1.5, a subvariant of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron surfaced. More false narratives about the virus proliferated in the past weeks.
Debunking Myths: COVID-19 Vaccine Does Not Modify Human DNA
The first of these false claims has purported that the COVID-19 vaccine alters human DNA. Similar assumptions have been circulating since 2022. However, they have grown in popularity due to a recent TikTok video, which suggested that the vaccine adds a third helix to human DNA.
Various institutions and experts, including Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have repeatedly refuted this claim.
The CDC has confirmed that the vaccine does not impact human DNA on multiple occasions. Its website asserts, “These vaccines do not enter the nucleus of the cell where our DNA (genetic material) is located, so it cannot change or influence our genes.”
Vitamin D Does Not Offer Protection Against COVID-19
Another persistent claim purports that vitamin D consumption can protect from the COVID-19 virus. Some social media users who shared this misinformation claimed that the government is not raising awareness about this to increase pharmaceutical companies’ profits through the vaccine.
While these claims have been present throughout the duration of the pandemic, they have recently increased in volume due to a 2023 scientific study which concluded that, “vitamin D administration results in a decreased risk of death and ICU admission.”
Some have assumed that the study found that vitamin D can be a substitute for the vaccine and other preventative measures, such as masks. However, medical experts have cautioned against making such conclusions based on one study.
The published research also neglects other scientific studies which have found no relationship between vitamin D and the virus.
Reviewing the study, epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz noted several weaknesses in its methodology and analysis. He also observed that the research was funded by a vitamin D-selling supplement manufacturer, which raises concerns about a conflict of interests. Government health agencies, such as the Public Health Wales and the NHS, continue to state that there is not enough evidence to link vitamin D consumption and COVID-19.
Misinformation About Sudden Death and COVID-19
A recent narrative has emerged connecting the deaths of various individuals to the COVID-19 vaccine. This theory was instigated by the conspiracy video titled “Died Suddenly” on Twitter, which was shared in late November 2022. The video claims that many people have died suddenly following the COVID-19 vaccine. Since then, the tagline “died suddenly” has increased in usage by over 740% on Twitter, according to research undertaken for Associated Press. Social media users have used this tagline to link deaths of various people to the vaccine, despite the lack of evidence that supports this hypothesis.
COVID-19 misinformation, like health misinformation in general, can result in individuals engaging in behaviors that put themselves and others at risk.