No, COVID-19 Swabs Are Not Vaccines In Disguise
Experts dismissed the false claim, and the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that vaccines cannot be administered using a swab.
A Facebook post of a video interview featuring American doctor Lorraine Day making multiple false claims about COVID-19 on a YouTube channel called "Israeli News Live" has been viewed thousands of times. Day alleges that "people who have tested for COVID-19 have unknowingly been vaccinated" and insists that vaccines are disguised as tests. But medical experts dismissed the false claim, and the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that vaccines cannot be administered using a swab.
During the interview shared in this Facebook post, Day claims: "They started the vaccinations a long time ago because the tests vaccinate you." She then reads from an article and repeats: "Yes, they can vaccinate us through the nasal test swabs and target the brain."
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According to Day, the swab reaches the brain barrier where it deposits "nanoparticles".
The video, which has been on Facebook since December 2020, has resurfaced online in a snippet where Day is also heard claiming that anyone who has been vaccinated automatically becomes open to a patent. AFP Fact Check debunked this claim here.
A screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on October 22, 2021
The video has also been shared on Facebook here.
However, Day's claim about people being vaccinated unknowingly during a COVID-19 test is unsubstantiated.
The WHO told AFP Fact Check that the nasal swabs are designed to collect samples to test for the presence of the virus, and not for the purpose of vaccination.
"No vaccine so far has shown that it can be given through a swab. Swabs are used to collect samples and not to administer vaccines," said Dr Phionah Atuhebwe, the WHO's new vaccines introduction medical officer in Africa.
Atuhebwe added that vaccines (such as the polio vaccine) need to be swallowed to enter the bloodstream and function properly.
While research about intranasal vaccines exists (see here and here), Geoffrey Kulabusia, an immunologist in Kenya, and Shabir Madhi, a South African professor of vaccinology, told AFP Fact Check that the recommendation for the COVID-19 vaccine is intramuscular only. Both of them dismissed the claim about vaccines being administered during a COVID-19 test.
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"It is not true that people are being vaccinated during Covid-19 testing," Kulabusia said. "During testing, we are only removing the samples -- either with cavity swabs or nasal swabs. We can do nasal vaccination but for COVID-19, what has been approved now is intramuscular vaccination."
Madhi said: "There are some investigational vaccines which are looking at administering orally or intranasally but no vaccines are currently available for oral or intranasal use."
Additionally, Madhi discredited claims that the swab reaches the brain barrier and deposits nanoparticles, noting that "if it traversed through the sinuses to reach the brain, it would cause harm to the brain and not only cause an itchy nose".
Vaccines are administered using different methods but according to Madhi, injecting into the muscle tissue is the most common.
"Most vaccines are given through the intramuscular route. For some of the vaccines, e.g. mRNA, injection into the muscle is required to get the cells to produce the spike protein which is then presented to the immune system," Madhi told AFP Fact Check in March 2021.
Other false claims repeated by Day in the video and debunked by AFP Fact Check include: vaccines modify human DNA (see here); the coronavirus was patented in 2003 (see here); and COVID-19 was created for population control (see here).
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