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There’s no evidence the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is connected to the monkeypox outbreak
If Your Time is short
“The Great Reset” is an unsubstantiated and widely debunked conspiracy theory, which holds that a group of elites is using the coronavirus to reorder societies and economies around the world in the hopes of creating a global totalitarian regime.
Monkeypox cases have been reported in countries that aren’t distributing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The monkeypox outbreak isn’t an attempt to hide cases of Pfizer “COVID-19 vaccine-induced shingles.”
There’s no credible evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause shingles.
How are monkeypox cases, COVID-19 vaccines and shingles infections connected? They are not.
But if you believe claims circulating online, they are linked to a group of global elites that is using the coronavirus "as a tool to reorganize global societies and economies to their benefit at the expense of ordinary people, with the ultimate goal of a global totalitarian regime," according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Those claims are part of "The Great Reset" conspiracy theory, which PolitiFact has repeatedly debunked. Other news outlets have also dismissed the idea as unsubstantiated.
One article pushing the narrative that monkeypox is tied to this conspiracy theory appeared on The Exposé, a U.K.-focused blog that has repeatedly spread misinformation about the pandemic and COVID-19 vaccine.
"‘Monkeypox’ is only circulating in countries where the Pfizer vaccine has been distributed and is being used to advance a Technocratic Great Reset," read a July 24 Exposé headline.
The article claimed that the monkeypox outbreak is actually shingles cases caused by Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines.
"We’re seeing the consequences of injecting millions of people with an experimental mRNA injection that causes untold damage to the immune system," the article said. "And public health authorities are now scrambling to cover up COVID-19 vaccine-induced shingles and using it as an opportunity to advance their technocratic agenda of implementing ‘The Great Reset.’"
The article was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Available evidence directly rebuts the article’s claims.
Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, marketed as Comirnaty, in August 2021 became the first COVID-19 vaccine to achieve full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Millions of people have received the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, which is a safe and effective way to prevent COVID-19.
A nurse gives a child, aged 5, the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Nov. 6, 2021. This was the first time children aged 5 to 11 across the United States had the opportunity to get immunized against COVID-19. (AP)
In the seven days after vaccination, it is common to experience mild side effects including fever, chills, fatigue or headaches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More severe side effects — including severe allergic reactions or myocarditis and pericarditis (especially for males ages 12 to 39) — are rare but can happen.
Pfizer told PolitiFact it had agreements to provide its vaccine to more than 140 countries.
As of July 28, cases of monkeypox have been reported in 77 countries, including 71 countries that have not historically reported monkeypox, the CDC reported.
A map on Pfizer’s website shows where it has shipped vaccines, and a map on the CDC’s site also shows monkeypox cases around the world.
Comparing these maps shows that the article’s claim that monkeypox is "only circulating" where the Pfizer vaccine was distributed is false.
Venezuela reported one case of monkeypox as of July 28, but Pfizer’s map does not show any shipments of COVID-19 vaccines. Venezuela has approved the use of Russian COVID-19 vaccines Sputnik V and Sputnik Light, Cuba’s Abdala and Soberana COVID-19 vaccines and the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines from China, according to the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela.
India reported four cases of monkeypox as of July 28. Pfizer has not sent COVID-19 vaccines to India, according to its map last updated July 3.
India is currently distributing four vaccines, per the BBC: the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Corbevax, Covaxin and Sputnik V.
Also, not all the countries that received Pfizer vaccines have reported monkeypox cases. As of July 28, for example, Indonesia has not reported any monkeypox cases, but Pfizer has shipped nearly 69 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine there.
A medical worker shows vials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination campaign at the Patriot Candrabhaga Stadium in Bekasi on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, on Feb. 8, 2022. (AP)
The CDC tracks adverse events reported after COVID-19 vaccinations, and has not indicated that the vaccines cause shingles.
Nearly 10,000 cases of shingles have been reported to the CDC and FDA’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System after doses of the Pfizer vaccine. This does not mean the vaccines caused shingles.
VAERS is an open system, meaning anyone can submit a report to the database, "regardless of seriousness, and regardless of how likely the vaccine may have been to have caused the adverse event," per the CDC. On one occasion, a doctor said he’d submitted a report that a flu vaccine had turned him into the Hulk; that report was accepted and remained in the database for some time, he said.
Pfizer said it has not seen data that suggests its COVID-19 vaccine causes shingles.
Monkeypox and shingles cause skin rashes, but they look different on the body.
Shingles causes a painful rash that typically "occurs in a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body" or on one side of the face, according to the CDC. In contrast, monkeypox causes "a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus."
This image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (red) found within an infected cell (blue). (NIAID via AP)
The diseases are also caused by different viruses: Monkeypox is caused by an orthopoxvirus; shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus that also causes chickenpox.
A blog post claimed that monkeypox "is only circulating in countries where the Pfizer vaccine has been distributed and is being used to advance a Technocratic Great Reset."
"The Great Reset" is an unsubstantiated and widely debunked conspiracy theory. Monkeypox has been reported in countries that don’t have Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. And there are countries that received Pfizer’s vaccine that have not yet reported monkeypox cases.
We rate this claim False.
RELATED: Shingles-monkeypox claim misleads with false flu-COVID-19 theory
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RELATED: Federal VAERS database is a critical tool for researchers, but a breeding ground for misinformation
The Exposé, "‘Monkeypox’ is only circulating in countries where the Pfizer Vaccine has been distributed & is being used to advance a Technocratic Great Reset," July 24, 2022
World Health Organization, "Monkeypox," May 19, 2022
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, "Epidemiological update: Monkeypox multi-country outbreak," June 15, 2022
Anti-Defamation League, "‘The Great Reset’ conspiracy flourishes amid continued pandemic," Dec. 29, 2020
The Intercept, "The Great Reset conspiracy smoothie," Dec. 8, 2020
PolitiFact, "No evidence that ‘leaked’ email from a Canadian politician is authentic," April 29, 2021
BBC, "The coronavirus pandemic 'Great Reset' theory and a false vaccine claim debunked," Nov. 22, 2020
USA Today, "Fact check: False claim that World Economic Forum chairman said internet must be reformed," March 31, 2022
WebMD Health News, "Experts debunk COVID-19 vaccine-shingles link," Feb. 9, 2021
Reuters, "Fact Check-Recent monkeypox cases are not mistaken shingles, and not caused by shingles virus," May 26, 2022
PolitiFact, "Shingles-monkeypox claim misleads with false flu-COVID-19 theory," May 26, 2022
Newswise, "Monkeypox is not shingles and there is no evidence that the Monkeypox outbreak has anything to do with the COVID-19 vaccines," June 3, 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (also known as COMIRNATY): overview and safety," accessed July 29, 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Monkeypox outbreak 2022 global map and case count," accessed July 29, 2022
Full Fact, "Monkeypox isn’t shingles in disguise," May 31, 2022
Pfizer, "Working to reach everyone, everywhere," accessed July 28, 2022
BBC, "Covid vaccine: India becomes second country to cross two billion Covid jabs," July 18, 2022
Reuters, "India govt won't buy Pfizer, Moderna vaccines amid local output -sources," Sept. 21, 2021
U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, "COVID-19 Information," accessed July 29, 2022
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "FDA approves first COVID-19 vaccine," Aug. 23, 2021
Johns Hopkins Medicine, "Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?" accessed July 29, 2022
Statement from Pfizer, July 28, 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Selected adverse events reported after COVID-19 vaccination," accessed July 29, 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Shingles (Herpes Zoster) - signs & symptoms," accessed July 29, 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Monkeypox - signs and symptoms," accessed July 29, 2022
PolitiFact, "CDC accepts all manner of reported vaccination effects--even symptoms of the Hulk," May 11, 2017
PolitiFact, "Federal VAERS database is a critical tool for researchers, but a breeding ground for misinformation," May 3, 2021
World Health Organization, "Multi-country outbreak of monkeypox," July 25, 2022
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There’s no evidence the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is connected to the monkeypox outbreak
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