Claim: COVID-19 vaccine compromises the immune system of recipients and has other side effects
Source: Tiktok video
Verdict: 2 claims MISLEADING, 1 FALSE
Researched by Gifty Tracy Aminu
A Tiktok video showing a man who identifies himself as Joe Timm warning people against being vaccinated while making a number of claims about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines is being shared on WhatsApp in Ghana.
Joe Timm who introduces himself as a Respiratory Therapist claimed that taking the vaccine could compromise the immune system of recipients, cause blood clots and subsequently weaken their hearts.
In the 2 minutes and 50 seconds long video, the speaker in the video said he is struggling with these side effects after receiving the Pfizer vaccines. This fact-check report will seek to verify the following:
- Whether COVID-19 vaccines compromise the immune system.
- Whether COVID-19 vaccines weaken the heart.
- Whether COVID-19 vaccines can cause blood clots and pains.
“Hi everyone, I want to give you a little information about the COVID vaccination and I hope you watch the whole thing because there must be a twist in the hidden aspect. I am a Respiratory Therapist. I have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 battle since day one up until now. I am fully vaccinated on May 6, 2021. About two weeks after that, that’s when the trouble starts… I take ibuprofen for pains I can’t just stand, because of the vaccine, I have a compromised immune system which that compromise causes a weakened heart… I know take Eliquis for blood clot,” he partly said in the video.
GhanaFact checks on TikTok showed Joe Timm has published similar videos making several claims via his account.
Meanwhile, the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has 95% efficacy (the vaccine prevents 95% of cases of the disease) and has received authorization from the World Health Organization after a thorough assessment of its quality, safety, and efficacy in December 2019.
“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,” the WHO has emphasized.
“COVID-19 vaccines do not compromise your immune system,” WHO Africa Infodemic Response Alliance told GhanaFact.
COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against the disease by helping the body develop an immune response which then reduces the risk of contracting the illness and its consequences.
According to the WHO, when you get a vaccine, your immune system responds by recognizing the invading germ, such as the virus or bacteria and then produce antibodies to fight disease.
Therefore, the claim that COVID-19 compromises the immune system is FALSE.
“A very small number of myocarditis and pericarditis cases (inflammation of the heart) have been reported following the Pfizer vaccine. In Europe, where the vaccine has been rolled out in larger numbers, a rate of less than one person in a million has been reported. Most of these cases have been mild and not required treatment or hospitalisation,” according to the Heart Foundation in New Zealand.
The Heart Foundation is New Zealand’s heart charity, leading the fight against the country’s single biggest killer – heart disease.
“There have been reports of very rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart) following the second dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines,” the WHO Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (WHO/AIRA) said.
Myocarditis and pericarditis can be caused by many factors, including infections, viruses, medicines and environmental factors. The currently available data suggest that there is also a potential relationship between these symptoms and mRNA vaccines. Research is underway to understand more.
According to the WHO, cases have been mostly reported in younger men aged 12 – 29 (40.6 cases of myocarditis per million-second doses) compared to females of the same age group (4.2 cases per million-second doses),
“However, globally, mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna have been used to protect millions of people against COVID-19. A significant amount of data is available from both clinical trials and country surveillance programmes on their efficacy and safety”, the AIRA secretariate told GhanaFact.
The claim has been rated MISLEADING.
According to the Heart Foundation of New Zealand, there have been overseas reports of some people experiencing blood clots after getting the Covid-19 vaccine. These reports are not linked to the Pfizer vaccine.
Meanwhile, reports of blood clots have been linked to Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) or the Janssen COVID-19 vaccines.
On July 4, 2021, the European Medical Association (EMA) announced a possible link to very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets, as a very rare side effect of Vaxzevria (formerly COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca).
Also, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA recommended a pause of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on April 13, 2021.
At the time of the pause, about 6.8 million doses of the vaccine had been given. The purpose of this pause was to further investigate rare blood clots that had been reported after vaccination.
“There have been reports of very rare but serious cases of blood clots accompanied by low platelet counts (known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)) occurring 3 to 30 days after vaccination with COVID-19 non-replicant adenovirus vector-based vaccines (such as the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines),” the WHO has indicated.
Meanwhile, a new study has revealed that the risk of rare blood clotting is significantly higher as a result of catching COVID-19 than it is from being vaccinated against the virus. The peer-reviewed study was published in the British Medical Journal by researchers from Oxford University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and several other British universities.
With regards to pains, the WHO said, “like any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild, short term side effects, such as a low-grade fever or pain or redness at the injection site.
The claim is rated MISLEADING.