No, COVID-19 vaccines do not transmit antibodies through aerosols

By: Ankita Kulkarni
August 16 2023

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No, COVID-19 vaccines do not transmit antibodies through aerosols


The Verdict False

COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer does not contain a live virus and, therefore, cannot “shed” antibodies or any of its components to other individuals.

Claim ID be8f87aa


Several posts on X (formerly Twitter) are circulating with the claim that Pfizer has admitted that the COVID-19 vaccines can be transmitted to unvaccinated individuals through the air or skin. The posts spreading this claim cite an article published by The Epoch Times, a website known for its consistent promotion of propaganda and conspiracies.

The article states, "New evidence suggests vaccinated individuals can transmit antibodies generated through mRNA COVID-19 vaccination to unvaccinated individuals through aerosols, according to a peer-reviewed study published in ImmunoHorizons." The only proof that the article provides is a Pfizer document, which it cites to allege that, "unvaccinated person could be exposed to the contents of COVID-19 vaccines through the air or skin of a vaccinated individual." The archive posts can be found here, here and here. 

(Source: The Epoch Times/Altered by Logically Facts)

However, the Pfizer document has been misrepresented to spread false claims. 

In fact

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that COVID-19 vaccines do not shed. They note that for a vaccine to "shed" or spread illnesses, it must contain a live version of the virus, which the COVID-19 vaccines don't have. There is no biological path for them to shed.

The Pfizer document cited in the Epoch Times article is a clinical trial protocol document. The section on "Exposure During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding, and Occupational Exposure" deals with unintended exposure to the vaccine. It details that any such exposures should be reported to Pfizer within 24 hours. It explains such cases, including instances where a pregnant woman might be exposed to the vaccine "by inhalation or skin contact" or from a man who was involved in the trial and "then exposes his female partner prior to or around the time of conception." This is generic language used for vaccine trial protocols.

A similar narrative was debunked by AP News in 2021. Speaking with AP News, Dr. Shobha Swaminathan, an associate professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, stated that the language in Pfizer document is "generic meant to cover cases of any potential exposures, including possible accidental ones."

She said, "Exposure through inhalation or skin contact could refer to incidents where a pregnant woman was near a syringe that contained the product and accidentally broke." She added, "But with COVID-19 vaccines, the degree of absorption from spilling the vaccine on your skin is probably going to be negligible to non-existent."

The AP News article also quoted Dr. Justin Brandt, an assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, who said that the language in the document "can be relevant to other kinds of vaccines, including certain ones that contain live viruses. But Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which does not contain live virus."

A representative for Pfizer told Logically Facts, "The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is a synthetic mRNA vaccine and does not contain any virus particles. Because there is no virus produced in the body, no shedding occurs." It added, "The vaccine cannot be inhaled via shedding and can only enter the human body through an administered dose."

Furthermore, the study cited in The Epoch Times article has also been misinterpreted. The study actually discusses the aerosol transfer of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, causing COVID-19 between immune and non-immune hosts.

The verdict

The posts making false claims about vaccine shedding have misinterpreted Pfizer's protocol document mentioning the unintended exposure of vaccines through inhalation or skin during trials as proof that COVID-19 vaccine spreads from vaccinated to unvaccinated individuals. Therefore we have marked the claim as false.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.

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