A nurse fills a syringe with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination centre in Seoul on March 20, 2021. ( POOL / JUNG YEON-JE)

False posts that Covid vaccines alter DNA share pre-pandemic photo

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Korean-language social media posts alleging Covid-19 vaccines alter human DNA have shared an image alongside a claim it shows a "genetically modified human". These posts are false; AFP has repeatedly debunked claims that Covid-19 vaccines change human DNA. The image shared in the posts shows a digitally altered stock photo that predates the pandemic.

"Transhuman: Genetically modified human hybrid. Covid-19 vaccine alters human DNA and it will destroy humankind," reads this Korean-language Facebook post on February 19.

The post features a collage that compares a stock image of genetically modified corn with a photo of what appears to be a baby with a mouth deformity.

The image of the corn has been labelled "GMO" or genetically modified organism.

The photo that appears to show the baby has been overlaid with text that says "GMH" -- the acronym for genetically modified human according to the post.

A screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on March 3, 2022.

Similar posts were also shared on Facebook here, here and here.

Comments to these posts suggest many social media users were misled.

"This is a two-step approach to wipe out the human race. First, laying out a foundation by introducing GMO foods. Second, introducing posionous Covid-19 vaccines and innoculate everyone," one wrote.

"GMO plants and GMO human. What a good match. Covid-19 vaccines turn you into a GMO human by manipulating your DNA!" said another.

However, the posts are false.

'Covid vaccines don't alter DNA'

AFP has repeatedly debunked claims that Covid-19 vaccines alter human DNA here, here and here.

Arindam Basu, an associate professor at the University of Canterbury, told AFP in December 2020 that mRNA vaccines and genetically modified foods are "two completely different concepts."

"Genetically modified foods are produced by manipulating the 'genetic code' or DNA of the organisms," he said, adding that it is impossible for RNA to be incorporated into human DNA.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also says on its website that Covid-19 vaccines "do not change or interact with your DNA in any way."

"The genetic material delivered by mRNA vaccines never enters the nucleus of your cells, which is where your DNA is kept," the agency explains.

"Viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver genetic material to the cell nucleus to allow our cells to build protection against COVID-19.

"However, the vector virus does not have the machinery needed to integrate its genetic material into our DNA, so it cannot alter our DNA."

Doctored stock photo

A reverse search on TinEye found the image of the baby -- without the mouth deformity -- has circulated online since at least 2013.

The original photo was featured in this article published by the Irish national daily The Irish Examiner on June 27, 2015.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the image in the false posts (left) and the photo published by The Irish Examiner (right).

The photo was also published here on stock image provider Superstock.