Junk Science? Number 141: Covid-19 vaccines are not gene therapies

Are Covid-19 shots Vaccines or Gene therapies? The Fact checkers have been out in force trying to correct the ‘misinformation’. Here we Fact Check the Fact Checkers.

A November 29th 2022 opinion article in Forbes had a headline stating, “Yes. The Vaccine Changes Your DNA. Just a little bit. That’s a good thing.”  The piece was written by Johns Hopkins University biomedical engineering Professor Steven Salzberg, a genome expert.

This prompted ‘Anti-vaxers‘ to go into overdrive on Social Media. “I told ya so!” was one quote.  And Fact Checkers at Facebook and elsewhere made sure they blocked the ‘misinformation’ from these evil ‘people who just don’t understand science’. Notwithstanding an expert in the field had originated the first headline, a rewrite then appeared: ‘Covid Vaccines don’t alter your-DNA – they help choose cells to strengthen your immune response”. Wow. And the research for this claim is where exactly?

Other ‘Fact Checkers’ were keen to point out that vaccines don’t change your DNA.

The trouble with all this is that opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has got one. So let’s not run with opinions, let’s run with facts and see how the controversy could have occurred. .

Fact: The mRNA compounds were being developed back in 2015 as a new way of delivering vaccines. messenger RNA is genetic material, containing genetic instructions to make proteins.

Fact: The FDA defined gene therapy in July 2015 – “Human gene therapy seeks to modify or manipulate the expression of a gene or to alter the biological properties of living cells for therapeutic use. Gene therapy is a technique that modifies a person’s genes to treat or cure illness.”

Fact: Moderna’s November 2018 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration statement is clear that its mRNA injections are gene therapies: “mRNA is considered a gene therapy by the FDA”.

Fact: In the BioNTech registration it states, “(In) the United States and in the European Union, mRNA therapies have been classified as gene therapy medicinal products.”

Fact: Pfizer repeated exactly this statement in their September 2019 SEC filing.

Fact: In 2019 Moderna stated that mRNA technology was of a “novel and unprecedented nature”.

So why were they not classified originally as vaccines?

Fact: At the time the CDC definition of a vaccine was “A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease”. This definition ran to the beginning of 2022.

Fact: The CDC also stated that ‘Protection’ meant “If you are immune to a disease you can be exposed to it without being infected’.

Fact: In July 2021, scientists from UCLA and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia showed that Polymerase theta could indeed upload mRNA into DNA sequences (

Thus the opinion-checking opinionated Fact Checkers have been Fact Checked.

mRNA was approved as a gene therapy, and in 2021 still did NOT meet the criteria for a vaccine.

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