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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher August 28, 2023

World Health Organization did not say COVID-19 vaccines might cause multiple sclerosis

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  • The World Health Organization did not say COVID-19 vaccines might cause multiple sclerosis.

A video shared on Instagram claimed that the World Health Organization said there is "a possible causal relationship" between COVID-19 vaccines and multiple sclerosis, an incurable autoimmune disease that can lead to vision problems, muscle weakness or loss of balance.

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The World Health Organization did not make such a statement.

The video was created by John Campbell, who describes himself as a retired "nurse teacher." His claims about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines have been debunked before by PolitiFact and other fact-checkers.

The video alluded to a May 2023 World Health Organization post about an abstract of a study published in October 2022 in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

The abstract described work by Swiss researchers, not the World Health Organization.

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It said two cases of multiple sclerosis could have been induced by COVID-19 inoculations.

Roland Martin, one of the researchers, told The Associated Press  that the vaccine was related to the onset of multiple sclerosis in two patients, but that the abstract’s wording was "probably too strong" because there are many other possible causes of multiple sclerosis.

Julie Fiol, an associate vice president at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, told the AP that a much larger and different type of experiment would need to be done to prove cause and effect.

The World Health Organization told PolitiFact there is no conclusive link between multiple sclerosis and COVID-19 vaccination.

The study could indicate a correlation between multiple sclerosis and COVID-19 vaccination, but "it is too early to draw conclusions" because studies of that type "do not establish causation but instead establish likely links between two events that warrant further study," the organization said.

We rate the Instagram post False.

UPDATE, Aug. 29, 2023: This story has been updated to include direct comment from the World Health Organization.

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World Health Organization did not say COVID-19 vaccines might cause multiple sclerosis

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