No, COVID-19 vaccines will not result in antibody-dependent enhancement or lead to a cytokine storm and death

By: Naledi Mashishi
April 5 2024

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
No, COVID-19 vaccines will not result in antibody-dependent enhancement or lead to a cytokine storm and death

Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts


The Verdict False

There is no evidence linking COVID-19 vaccines to ADE, and cytokine storms are more likely to develop from COVID-19 infection.

Claim ID fb760d4f

What is the claim? 

A resurfaced video, initially uploaded on January 17, 2024, recently went viral again on Facebook. It features "Dr. Shawn Brooks MD," who claims to be a medical doctor from Oxford, claiming that all those who have taken COVID-19 vaccines will die within six months to three to five years. 

In the video, the man is standing in what appears to be an auditorium and addressing an audience off-camera. He claims that taking the vaccine "dramatically decreases your immune system" and that anyone who takes a booster vaccine or a flu shot in the future will die. He also claims, "antibody-dependent enhancement is what is happening with these jabs with everybody who has taken them. [It] tricks the body into believing that the cell that is eating the pathogen is eating it when it isn't. It ends up leading to what is called a cytokine storm which causes organ failure. That will cause your death."

A reverse image search indicated that the video was originally from August 2021. It was taken at a school board meeting in Ohio, U.S., at which parents spoke for and against mask mandates. It is worth noting that Dr. Brooks, which is actually spelled Dr. Sean M. Brooks, is not a medical doctor. In a 2020 interview, he was introduced as having a bachelor's degree in education from Miami University and a Ph.D. in education from Walden University. Miami University is located in the town of Oxford in Ohio, U.S., which is likely where the Oxford reference comes from. He has written multiple books on the U.S. education system – not on health. 

Considering that, according to the World Health Organization, there have been over 13.59 billion vaccine doses administered since July 2020. If everyone who took the vaccine were dying within 6 months to 3-5 years, by now we would see high death rates as a result.

Logically Facts has previously debunked claims that COVID-19 vaccines permanently destroy the immune system. Like those claims, Dr. Brooks's claims are also false.

What we found

Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) occurs when antibodies bind to a pathogen, but instead of fighting the pathogen, they act as a "Trojan horse" by helping the pathogen enter more cells which worsens infection. Some diseases, such as the Dengue virus, can cause ADE. It has also been observed in some vaccines, such as older measles and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines.

There is currently no evidence showing that COVID-19 vaccines can cause ADE. A 2022 meta-analysis of available studies found that "natural infection with or vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 alleviates the severe outcomes of post-immune infection and that ADE is not likely to occur." ADE was also not observed during clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Scientists theorize that ADE could be linked to cytokine storms, although this link has not been firmly established. A cytokine storm happens when a foreign pathogen triggers an overproduction of cytokines, which control the growth and activity of blood cells and immune system cells. This can result in organ damage, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and death. Cytokine storms have been linked to infection from COVID-19, with one study reporting it among 14.3 percent of hospitalized COVID patients.

While there have been some reported cases of patients developing cytokine storms following vaccination, these have been rare. Studies have found that vaccinated COVID-19 patients exhibited lower levels of cytokines than unvaccinated patients as much as 90 days after recovery from infection. 

Therefore, patients appear to be at higher risk of developing a cytokine storm from COVID-19 infection than from being vaccinated.

The verdict 

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause ADE. There have been a few cases of patients developing cytokine storms after vaccination, but this has been rare. Cytokine storms have been more commonly observed after COVID-19 infection, and studies have found that vaccinated patients exhibit lower levels of cytokines than unvaccinated patients. We have therefore rated this 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.

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before