Claim: 5 COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies

Source: WhatsApp Video


Researched by Gifty Tracy Aminu

A video of a man spreading COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theories and misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic has gone viral among some social media users in Ghana.

The man who introduced himself as Dr Stephen Hotze, founder and CEO of the Hotze Health and Wellness Center in Houston, Texas, speaking in the 17 minutes and 22 seconds long video cautioned the public against taking COVID-19 vaccines because they are “dangerous experimental gene therapy”.

The video has been tagged by WhatsApp as “Forwarded many times” and in this fact-check report, we will verify 5 claims made in the clip.


Claim 1

COVID-19 vaccine is a “dangerous experimental gene therapy”.


Messenger RNA vaccines- also called mRNA vaccines- are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccines however cannot give someone COVID-19 and do not affect or interact with our DNA (genetic material) in any way.

Although mRNA vaccines are a new technology, it isn’t the same as DNA, and it can’t combine with our DNA to change our genetic code. Also, mRNA vaccines have been held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines.


Claim 1 is FALSE.


Claim 2

“This so-called COVID-19 vaccine does not provide any individual who receives the vaccine with immunity to COVID-19. Nor does it prevent the spread of the disease. It does not meet the CDC’s own definition of a vaccine…”


Scientists and Public Health experts at Meedan have explained that there are a few main reasons why someone may test positive for COVID-19 after taking a COVID-19 vaccine.

  1. The Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine—are reported to have about 95% efficacy. This means that about 5% of vaccinated people are still likely to contract COVID-19. As a result, some individuals are testing positive for COVID-19 despite having gotten a vaccine. The chance of hospitalization or death in a vaccinated COVID-19 patient is significantly lower than an unvaccinated COVID-19 patient.
  2. After someone gets the shot, it takes time to build up immunity to COVID-19. The full benefits of the vaccines aren’t reached until two weeks after the second dose of the Moderna vaccine and 7 days after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. In the time leading up to maximum immunity, the chances of contracting COVID-19 are not zero.
  3. COVID-19 vaccine efficacy rates published by pharmaceutical companies do not yet tell us the exact vaccine effectiveness rates that can be expected in actual populations. As a result, it is possible that the number of individuals (5%) who are estimated to still contract COVID-19 despite being vaccinated could actually be different in the population. No vaccine is perfect, and there are a range of factors that contribute to chances of the vaccine not working, such as weakened immunity and viral load exposure.

According to the US CDC, studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. It typically takes 2 weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination from the US CDC.


Claim 2 is rated FALSE.


Claim 3

“These so-called vaccines were approved without any published animal studies and any long-term human studies. This means that individuals who get these so-called experimental gene therapy vaccine treatments are the guinea pigs.”


According to the US CDC, the general stages of the development cycle of a vaccine are:

  • Exploratory stage
  • Pre-clinical stage
  • Clinical development
  • Regulatory review and approval
  • Manufacturing
  • Quality control

Clinical development is a three-phase process. During Phase I, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine. In Phase II, the clinical study is expanded and the vaccine is given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended. In Phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety.

Many vaccines undergo Phase IV formal, ongoing studies after the vaccine is approved and licensed.

Millions of people have safely received COVID-19 vaccines. All of the approved COVID-19 vaccines have been carefully tested and continue to be monitored.

Like all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines go through a rigorous, multi-stage testing process, including large clinical trials that involve tens of thousands of people. These trials are specifically designed to identify any safety concerns

An external panel of experts convened by WHO analyses the results from clinical trials and recommends whether and how the vaccines should be used. Officials in individual countries decide whether to approve the vaccines for national use and develop policies for how to use the vaccines based on WHO recommendations.


Claim 3 is FALSE.


Claim 4

“The new COVID-19 so-called vaccine is not a vaccine at all. It’s a synthetic messenger Ribonucleic Acid called mRNA. It is experimental gene therapy and it works much differently than historic vaccines.

The theory behind this is that when this synthetic mRNA is injected into your body, then it inserts itself into your cells. And now, it begins to produce the coronavirus spike proteins. Your own cells now would have this synthetic mRNA which you didn’t even make from your DNA…”


The US CDC has stated that mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is kept.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it has finished using the instructions.

Also, mRNA COVID-19 vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.

Here is how COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines Work according to the US CDC:

  1. First, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the immune cells, the cells use them to make the protein piece. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them.
  2. Next, the cell displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19.
  3. At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain this protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.

The U.S CDC has noted that researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades.


Claim 4 is MISLEADING.


Claim 5

“Another major concern is that COVID-19 “Experimental Gene Therapy” can make the infection even worse.”


According to US CDC, the COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.