The arrival and rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines is being celebrated because they offer a way out of the coronavirus crisis and could save thousands of lives. Millions of people have already had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine but there are many who are worried about the safety of a jab that has been developed so quickly. These concerns around the vaccines have been magnified by the spread of false claims spanning everything from the content of the vaccines to the potential side effects. Here, three GPs who are working on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic respond to some of the most popular myths about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccines contain aborted foetal cells
There are no aborted foetal cells or tissues in any of the COVID-19 vaccines. In fact, there are no living organisms or human cells in any of the jabs. The production and testing of each vaccine has been monitored to ensure they meet ethical standards. Muslim associations and Imams are all among those who have endorsed the UK’s vaccine rollout
Dr Farzana Hussain
The COVID vaccine ingredients are Haram
The three COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in the UK contain no pork products and many Muslim leaders and organisations are encouraging their communities to take the vaccine. The British Islamic Medical Association is one of a number of Muslim organisations that are encouraging people to get the vaccines. The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine contains some ethanol, but the amount is considered to be so small that many Muslim scholars have said it is permissible. Mosques around the country are also being used as vaccination centres as part of Muslim leaders support of the vaccine rollout. If you want to find out more about the vaccine and its compatibility with your faith, you can discuss the matter with a faith leader who is trusted and informed.
Vaccines are unsafe – that is why no pregnant women were in trials
It’s best practice for pregnant women to be excluded from clinical trials for new medicines and vaccines. This is a precautionary measure and not because there are proven risks. Because the COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been tested on pregnant women, it is not yet being routinely offered to them. But there is currently no data to suggest that the vaccine poses a danger to you if you are pregnant or your unborn child. Pregnant women with underlying health conditions or those who are frontline workers may decide to get the jab because of the risks they face. If this applies to you, you can discuss the matter with your GP.
Dr Farzana Hussain
The vaccine was approved too quickly to be safe
As a GP, I’ve witnessed the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on my community. So, I was delighted to hear the news that COVID-19 vaccines had been developed so quickly as it means we can save more lives. However, I know that some people are concerned about the safety of the vaccine because of the speed in which it has been made available. It’s important to know that these COVID-19 vaccines have been subjected to the same strict safety tests as other medicines. They have not skipped any stages of monitoring. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the independent regulatory body which approves all the medicines we use in the UK, has assessed the safety of each vaccine and continues to monitor them. Millions of people have received a COVID-19 vaccine and no significant side effects have been reported so far.
Pharmaceutical companies are all evil so we can’t trust them
Many of us have heard of incidents in which pharmaceutical companies have prioritised their profits over the health and safety of patients. One of the consequences of such actions is that some people have lost trust in pharmaceutical brands. However, you can be confident that the production of the COVID-19 has been overseen by independent bodies. Thankfully, today there are various independent medicine monitoring organisations, such as the MHRA, and procedures that help to ensure vaccines are created ethically and are safe to use. We can be assured that the vaccines can be trusted because independent regulators only authorise their use once they have met robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.
Dr Ebadur Chowdhury
The vaccine may modify your DNA
The claim that the COVID-19 vaccines may modify your DNA is false. The vaccines do not interfere with your DNA. It seems this myth has spread widely because of the use of mRNA vaccines. Both the Pfizer/BioNtech and the Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines. This has nothing to do with DNA and doesn’t modify your genes but rather triggers a reaction in your immune system that causes your body to produce proteins which can later fight the virus.
Dr Ebadur Chowdhury
Vaccines contain alcohol and therefore are impermissible
The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine contains some ethanol, but the amount is considered to be so small that many Muslim scholars have said it is permissible. Many Muslim leaders are supportive of the COVID-19 vaccines and are working hard to ensure their communities get the jab so they can be protected. Again, you can discuss this further with a trusted and informed faith leader.
Dr Koyes Ahmed
Vaccines contain pork or other animal derivatives
The three COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in the UK contain no pork products or any other materials derived from animals. Faith leaders and organisations, including Muslim and Hindu ones, are encouraging their communities to take the vaccine. Mosques and temples around the country are also being used as vaccination centres as part of religious leaders’ public support of the vaccine rollout.
Dr Koyes Ahmed
COVID vaccines can make you infertile (unable to have children)
There have been some harmful myths circulating that claim the COVID-19 vaccines can make you infertile. As a mother myself I understand how these claims can cause concern but there is no evidence to show that taking any of the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or affect it in women or men. One theory suggested the spike protein, an element of the vaccine which helps your body fight the virus, could lead to fertility problems. This theory is not supported by evidence. Most people who contract COVID-19 will develop antibody to the spike and there is no evidence of fertility problems in people who have had COVID-19.
Dr Farzana Husssain