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Sara Swann
By Sara Swann May 19, 2023

No, the numbers and letters on streetlights aren’t a secret code for mRNA vaccines

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  • There is no evidence that numbers and letters on streetlights are connected to messenger RNA, or mRNA, proteins or the COVID-19 vaccine.

Social media users are lit up about videos that suggest there’s a hidden message on your neighborhood streetlight. But there’s no proof to back up the claim.

A May 17 Facebook reel claimed "street lights are connected to mRNA." The video zooms in on a street light to show a series of letters and numbers, "L17-A," which a narrator claims is linked to messenger RNA, or mRNA, proteins.

The 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.)

This claim appears to have originated on TikTok. Both the Facebook and TikTok videos mention the street lights are located in cities in South Australia.

The TikTok videos’ captions include hashtags about the COVID-19 vaccine, which was the first widely disseminated vaccine to use mRNA technology.

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The videos show someone searching "L17-A" on their phone and pulling up the website UniProt, which is an online database of protein sequences and functions. On the page for the protein "60S ribosomal protein L17-A," the video underlines a section of the page that describes a ribosome’s function.

A ribosome "is responsible for the synthesis of proteins in the cell. The small ribosomal subunit (SSU) binds messenger RNAs (mRNAs)," the underlined section reads.

Ribosomes are found in both animal and plant cells. The "60S ribosomal protein L17-A" referenced in the video is found in baker’s yeast. It is not the same protein found in mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

The scientific name of this protein may contain some of the same numbers and letters as the streetlights in the video, but there is no evidence the two are related to each other, or that these streetlights are connected to the COVID-19 vaccine.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

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No, the numbers and letters on streetlights aren’t a secret code for mRNA vaccines

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