A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on 18 October 2021, as the country began giving third doses to all health workers, adults over 60 and people with underlying diseases. ( AFP / AIZAR RALDES)

Covid-19 vaccines do not contain live parasites, experts say

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A claim that Covid-19 vaccines contain parasites that could grow inside an inoculated person's body has been shared repeatedly on several social media posts in South Korea. But these posts -- which recommend those who were vaccinated to take the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin -- are false. Vaccines are manufactured in sterile environments and do not contain parasites as ingredients, experts told AFP. They also warned against the use of ivermectin, citing health risks.

The claim was shared here on Facebook on October 17, 2021.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post. Captured October 18, 2021.

The Korean-language post reads, "The vaccine's main ingredient, graphene. An aluminium-based parasite grows inside this graphene. Detoxing is the only way [to treat the parasite] to prevent this parasite's growth since people have been forced to receive the vaccine due to government pressure.

"It is vital to take the [anti-parasite drug] Ivermectin, and women especially need to visit the gynaecologist to get their wombs examined.

"I am telling you what will happen in six months, one year from now."

The claim was shared alongside a photo of what appears to be a microorganism, taken from a show that has a history of making inaccurate claims about Covid-19 vaccines.

A similar claim has been shared on Facebook here, Daum Cafe here and here, and YouTube here.

The claim is false, according to multiple health experts.

Covid-19 vaccines "cannot contain any parasites, because [parasites] are not included as ingredients, and because there is a strict system in place during the manufacturing process to prevent contaminations," Professor Kim Shin-woo, an epidemiologist at Kyungpook National University, told AFP on October 19, 2021.

South Korea adheres to the internationally recognised good clinical practice (GCP) standard, Kim said. These are a set of pharmaceutical guidelines that mandates a sterile environment during drug manufacturing.

"If such standards weren't enforced, the vaccines would not even have been approved for use," Kim explained.

Professor Jung Jae-hun, who teaches preventive medicine at the Gachon University College of Medicine and Science, also stressed that "all vaccines are manufactured in a sterile environment, unadulterated by other pathogens or viruses, let alone whole parasites."

Published lists of ingredients for Covid-19 vaccines currently being administered in South Korea -- Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen -- do not indicate any parasites.

There is no evidence that approved Covid-19 vaccines contain graphene or its derivative, graphene oxide, AFP previously reported.

Ivermectin warning

Experts also warned against using ivermectin in the absence of any parasites in the body.

"Drugs like Ivermectin can strain the body," Jung said on October 19, 2021. "There is no use in taking the drug after being vaccinated for Covid-19, as inoculations have nothing to do with parasites."

The US Food and Drugs Administration has warned against using ivermectin to treat or prevent Covid-19.

"Currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against COVID-19," the FDA stated here.

"You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death."

Guidance from the World Health Organization on Covid-19 medications also does not recommend ivermectin use in patients with Covid-19 except in clinical trials.

South Korea's Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency noted in April 2020 there was insufficient proof regarding the efficacy of the drug in treating Covid-19.

AFP has previously debunked posts touting ivermectin as a Covid-19 cure.