A woman receives a Covid-19 booster during an event hosted by the Chicago Department of Public Health at the Southwest Senior Center on September 9, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois ( GETTY / AFP / Scott Olson)

Video falsely claims vaccinated individuals are no longer human

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A video claims people vaccinated against Covid-19 are "genetically modified" and have been re-classified as "homoborgenesis," citing a supposed NASA study as evidence. This is false; the US agency told AFP it has done no research on the subject, and leading health authorities have repeatedly debunked claims that the shots alter human DNA.

In the clip shared on Instagram on October 9, 2022, social media influencer Maria Zee interviews lawyer Todd Callender. Both have previously spread Covid-19 misinformation.

Callender says in the video that the Covid-19 vaccine alters a person's DNA, claiming these "genetically modified people are now referred to as homoborgenesis, not homo sapiens." As evidence, he cites a purported research paper on fifth-generation warfare from NASA's Langley Research Center, which studies air, space and earth science.

Screenshot of an Instagram post taken October 11, 2022

The clip was shared across social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. Similar claims appeared on websites such as BitChute and Reddit.

"Is it true that people who were given mRNA gene therapy shots are in fact now the property -- the chattel property -- of the patent holders?" Callender asks in the clip, questioning whether vaccinated individuals have human rights.

Callender also made the claim about "homoborgenesis" on Jane Ruby's September 28, 2022 show. Ruby, a self-described "health economist and New Right political pundit," has repeatedly shared Covid-19 misinformation.

The claim echoes a debunked theory that people vaccinated against Covid-19 are no longer legally human and are therefore patentable. In 2013, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that isolated segments of human DNA could not be patented.

It is unclear where the term "homoborgenesis" originated, but AFP found no references to it on NASA's website.

"There is absolutely zero basis in fact that NASA Langley is researching this or has put out any research papers pertaining to this," said April Phillips, news chief at the NASA Langley Research Center.

Covid-19 vaccines do not alter DNA

AFP has repeatedly debunked posts that say Covid-19 vaccines alter human DNA -- a claim that medical experts have also dismissed.

Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines, the type of Covid-19 shot developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, deliver genetic instructions to cells on how to build coronavirus proteins. This is different from other vaccines, which inject small amounts of dead or weakened viruses to train the body to recognize and attack certain proteins, called antigens.

"The genetic material delivered by mRNA vaccines never enters the nucleus of your cells, which is where your DNA is kept," the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says on its website. "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."

Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) debunked the claim in a May 2022 statement: "The mRNA in the vaccine has not been shown to incorporate itself into the genes of vaccine recipients and breaks down in the weeks after vaccination."

AFP has fact-checked other false and misleading claims about vaccines here.