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There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines weaken the body’s immune system.
An article citing United Kingdom government reports raises alarms about the risk of AIDS, falsely claiming that COVID-19 vaccinations are degrading people’s immune systems.
The article, by an author identified only as "a concerned reader," appeared on a website called The Exposé, which describes itself as an alternative to the U.K. government-owned BBC and "lying" mainstream media.
"UK Government reports suggest the Fully Vaccinated are rapidly developing Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome," read the first part of the headline.
The Oct. 30 article began with claims that reports on COVID-19 cases show that "double-vaccinated 40- to 79-year-olds have now lost lost 50% of their immune system capability," and that 30- to 49-year-olds "will have zero COVID / viral defense at best, or a form of vaccine mediated acquired immunodeficiency syndrome at worst, by the first week in January."
The article adds: "Everybody over 30 will have lost 100% of their entire immune capability, certainly for COVID and most likely for viruses and certain cancers….Fully vaccinated 30- to 49-year-olds will have lost it by the first week in January. These people will then have no immune defence against Covid-19 at all."
A spokesperson for the UK Health Security Agency dismissed the claim, saying: "COVID-19 vaccines do not cause AIDS."
We found no evidence to support the claim that the vaccines weaken, let alone destroy, the body’s immune system.
Here’s what the latest Surveillance Report from the agency says about the vaccines’ effectiveness in the U.K., which administers vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca:
After a two-dose course, the vaccines are 65% to 90% effective in preventing symptomatic disease from the Delta variant, and 90% to 99% effective against hospitalization.
Rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death are substantially higher among unvaccinated people than among vaccinated people.
The effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing certain outcomes may wane over a period of several months. But the report contains no indication that the vaccines degrade the immune system overall.
Research in the U.S. — which uses vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — similarly shows that the vaccines do not degrade the immune system.
Earlier in October, we rated False a claim that a person’s immune system "tanks" after their second COVID-19 vaccine dose. On the contrary, we found that research from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others show that the vaccines boost the body’s immune response. For example, one Aug. 13 CDC report found that people who had been infected with COVID-19 in 2020 got a dramatic boost in virus-killing immune cells later because they were vaccinated.
Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told PolitiFact that the suggestion that the immune system is weakened by the COVID-19 shots rather than bolstered by them isn’t supported by clinical trial data, which includes thousands of people. "This wasn't observed in any of the phase 3 trials, where complete blood counts were obtained," he said.
Other fact-checks reached the same conclusion.
The Associated Press rated false a claim that a study from the Francis Crick Institute in London found that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine destroys a type of white blood cell called the T cell and weakens the immune system.
The AP found that the vaccine doesn’t destroy T cells or weaken the immune system. On the contrary, it generates a strong T cell response and boosts immunity, according to experts.
Health Feedback also found no evidence to back the claim that COVID-19 vaccines weaken the immune system.
A claim that U.K. "government reports suggest the fully vaccinated are rapidly developing Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome" has no factual basis.
We rate it False.
PolitiFact, "No evidence that COVID-19 vaccines weaken the immune system," Oct. 7, 2021
Associated Press: "COVID-19 vaccines don’t destroy T cells or weaken immune system," Aug. 26, 2021
Email, UK Health Security Agency, communications officer Zahraa Vindhani, Nov. 2, 2021
UK Health Security Agency, "COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report Week 44," Nov. 4, 2021
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