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COVID-19 vaccine

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The COVID-19 vaccine is a type of vaccine that immunizes patients to the disease COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. During their first year, they saved almost 20 million lives.[1] Nonetheless, there are many concerns about the new coronavirus vaccine scaremongering about its safety and effectiveness. This article seeks to refute and dispel those myths.


Efficacy against
Name Technology Doses Manufacturer Symptoms Severe disease
Comirnaty (tozinameran) mRNA 2 (3-12 weeks apart depending on country)[2][3][4] with boosters approved for the immunocompromised [5] Pfizer/BioNtech
United States Germany
84% (against delta)[6] 88% (against delta)[7]
Spikevax (elasomeran) mRNA 2 (4 weeks apart)[2] with boosters approved for the immunocompromised [5] Moderna
United States
93%[8] 93%[7]
Covishield, Vaxzevria (ChAdOx1-S [recombinant]) Viral vector 2 (4 weeks-12 weeks apart) Oxford-AstraZeneca
United Kingdom Sweden
60% (against delta)[9] 93% (against delta)[9]
Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Viral vector 1[2] with no booster suggested yet [5] Johnson & Johnson
United States
64% (against mutations)[9] 71% [7]
Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) Viral vector 2 (3 weeks apart)[10] with booster every 6 months afterwards Gamaleya Research Institute
83% against delta[11] (previously reported as ~90%)[12]
Covaxin Inactivated virus 2 (4 weeks apart)[13] Bharat Biotech
77.8%[14] 93.4%[14]
BBIBP-CorV[15] Inactivated virus 2 (3-4 weeks apart)[15] Sinopharm
79%[16] 79%[16]
CoronaVac (PiCoVacc)[17] Inactivated virus 2 (2-4 weeks apart)[17] with a booster possible/required[18] Sinovac Biotech
51%[17] 100%[17]
Covovax[19] Protein 2 (4 weeks apart)[2] Novavax
United States

Omicron and boosters[edit]

In November 2021, a heavily mutated strain was discovered in South Africa. Despite many travel restrictions being put in place, the Omicron variant quickly spread across the world, becoming the dominant strain in many countries. This variant has proven to be far more transmissible than Delta and is capable of evading vaccines. The UK Health Security Agency found that two doses of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine provided little protection against infection.[20] However, two doses are still thought to provide good protection against severe illness.[21]

As a result, booster vaccines became more widespread, with the UK Health Security Agency estimating that a booster jab was 70-75% effective at preventing infection. [22] The CDC also recommended getting a booster, five months after receiving the Pfizer jabs, six months after receiving the Moderna jabs and two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson jab.[23] Scientific consensus therefore generally recommends two or more boosters per year for the large majority of adults and children.


The vaccine is built on experimental technology[edit]

Katalin Karikó;Wikipedia Hungarian biochemist, the researcher behind RNA-mediated immune activation

mRNA technology has been in the works for 20 years for other viruses;[24] it is only now that they have been put to use, and has helped us develop a vaccine in record times.[25]

Katalin KarikóWikipedia (Westernized name order; Hungarian name order Karikó Katalin) started her research on mRNA therapies in 1990, and, in spite of what faculty members deemed a career dead-end in a university system that encourages programs that will bring in grants, continued her work even after being demoted. She eventually met immunologist Drew Weissman, with whom she worked on the problem for a decade until they finally found a solution to the human immune system rejecting foreign, synthetic mRNA instructions—something anyone who thinks human DNA replacement is easy should stop to think about. Their solution (incorporating modified nucleosides into mRNA) was published in 2005 and was largely not paid attention to. It was, however, noticed in Germany by BioNTech founders Özlem Türeci and Ugur Sahin, and in the United States by Moderna founder Derrick Rossi. Both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech licensed Karikó and Weissman's research in the production of their vaccines.[26][27][28]

Not enough research was done; they were rushed to the market[edit]

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was not much need to speed up vaccination process for any pathogen. Time taken by clinical trials continued to rise even after considerable industrial effort,[29] often taking many months and even years. There was considerable lack of infrastructure, few consenting volunteers, absence of control groups and high waiting times between phases. Furthermore, most potential inoculations and medications failed their respective clinical trials.

However, the demand for coronavirus vaccines rose after medical health crises in many countries; leading to great investment from governments and corporations and global cooperation from scientists working day and night for a solution. Research was sped up for the development of a vaccine by overlapping different phases of the trials. It also received a significant head start with past knowledge of other coronaviruses,[30] so it took no time to realise the spike protein could be targeted by a vaccine, giving them a goal to work towards immediately. Research on a vaccine for coronaviruses has been in development since 2002, after the SARS outbreak. Governments sent a huge influx of funding[31] and volunteers, while the anti-vaxx risked their lives to act as a control group for us. How nice of them!

On 10 August, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed over 110 possible vaccine candidates currently in clinical development (and 184 more in pre-clinical),[32] but it was unlikely that many of those would be approved for use. There were, however, some legitimate concerns regarding the adverse effects of too much speed, especially from the provaxx crowd,[33] after the launch of "Operation Warp Speed" under the Trump administration, which seeked to force the FDA to approve a coronavirus vaccine without any evidence of safety.

People who have already had the virus don't need the vaccine[edit]

Immunity acquired from vaccination has shown to be more long lasting than from an infection[34] and covers a broader range of epitopesWikipedia (the part of an antigen molecule to which an antibody attaches itself), allowing vaccination to combat the newer and more advanced variants.[35] Post-infection immunity is scattershot as the immune system tries everything and the kitchen sink against the virus in the case of infection, whereas the vaccines prime the immune system to attack the spike protein—which is how the virus attaches itself in the beginning of the infection. Vaccines aim to stop the infection in its tracks; infection-based immunity is far less reliable.[36]

People don’t need to wear a mask after getting vaccinated[edit]

Getting vaccinated significantly reduces risk of infection and the severity of the infection. It also reduces risk of transmission, but less so. This means that vaccination will not prevent you from spreading it to other people like those with compromised immune systems—such as those with heart diseases, or those with autoimmune diseases or cancer undergoing treatment to name a few.[37] However, it will reduce its risk.[38] Of course, mask wearing would be unnecessary if everyone else around you were vaccinated.

The vaccines have serious chronic side effects[edit]

"Breakthrough cases" are unfortunately common,[39] however, vaccines have a high efficacy of preventing severe disease that leads to hospitalization (above table). Compare that to the coronavirus, with a death toll of more than 4 million.[40]

Common side effects for the vaccines vary depending on the vaccine in question, and include:[41][42]

  • Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • Fever
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

These side effects can last 1-3 days. Individuals should alert their local health officials if symptoms last longer than this. The second dose may come with stronger side effects—this is normal, and indicates that your body is building up immunity (and getting riled up thanks to memory cells seeing foes.[43][44])

Anaphylaxis is an extremely rare side effect; but just to be on the safe side, this is why it is often asked that individuals stay at the vaccination site for 15-30 minutes. If you have had an extreme reaction to the first dose (assuming two-dose vaccine), you should not get the second one.[41]

Another rare side effect is myocarditis, emphasis on rare. Even for the most-at-risk group (males aged 12-29) the risk is 41 in one million, rarer than the risk of long-term COVID symptoms, or even the death rate from COVID-19.[36]

A recent study based on vaccine surveillance data from 6.2 million people found no associations between vaccinations and serious health outcomes 1 to 21 days after vaccination.[45]

They have long term side effects[edit]

Severe side effects from vaccines are extremely rare, and if they do occur, they usually show up within the first weeks—so not long-term. Unlike most medications, vaccines are not taken for an extended period of time. The injections (be it one to three times, per vaccine efficacy requirements) drop the payload which is eliminated by the body in a matter of months. Conversely, 10% of COVID-19 infections lead to long-term COVID side effects.[46] There is some evidence that vaccines may even help alleviate "long COVID" symptoms, to the tune of 30-40% of patients reporting improvement.[47]

They can alter DNA[edit]

None of the vaccines’ payload ever enters the nucleus, where the DNA is kept. mRNA is translated into proteins in the cytoplasm,Wikipedia not the nucleus. They use a chemical messenger to instruct cells to make proteins that mimic the outer surface of the new coronavirus, thereby creating immunity.[48]

They shed DNA[edit]

Inactivated virus vaccines cannot shed DNA, since, well, they are inactivated, are no more, have ceased to be, are bereft of life, rest in peace, are a collection of ex-viruses, and are hence incapable of replication. The mRNA vaccines only contain instructions for making spike protein, therefore they also can’t replicate. What does shed material likely to harm one, however, is a coronavirus infection, where the spike proteins are still alive and very keen to replicate.[49] As David Gorski from Science Based Medicine attests:

Yes, spike protein causes problems when it is being made in large quantities as part of a coronavirus infection. Vaccine safety monitoring of hundreds of millions of people after having received hundreds of millions of doses of these vaccines have failed to find any safety signal suggestive of any of the claims made by Palevsky. In addition, it’s just plain wrong to say that we don’t know how long the body keeps making spike protein after vaccination. The vaccines were designed such that the modified mRNA from the vaccine lasts longer than “natural” mRNA, but not indefinitely.[49]

They cause infertility[edit]

After aligning the genetic code of the Syncytin-1 (protein involved with reproduction in the placenta) and S Protein from SARS-CoV-2, we can see the common five amino acids in the sequences. However, this is expected for a genetic sequence of 1273 amino acids (like the proteins from the coronavirus).[50]

This is an old urban myth spread through blogposts and social media of the anti-vaccination movement, now repackaged to stigmatise coronavirus vaccines in times of crisis to further unscientific opposition to vaccines.

Arising from the "concerns" of a German epidemiologist, that the vaccine might make women infertile because of a shared genetic code between the coronavirus spike protein and the placenta (the organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy), which would make the immune system attack both because it can’t tell the difference, is completely irrational, as the shared genetic amino acid sequence between the two is simply too short.[51]

Furthermore, this risk has been continuously disproven in clinical trials. Women involved in COVID-19 clinical trials became pregnant and gave birth after getting vaccinated which demonstrates that any concern that there would be problems arising from similarities between the placenta and vaccine spike protein is unfounded.[52] The CDC has issued a recommendation that people who are pregnant and breastfeeding should get the vaccine because people within that group are more likely to develop a more severe case of COVID-19, but that is preventable if enough people get the vaccine. According to current research, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems for men or women.[53]

However, there have been a number of studies suggesting that COVID-19 and Long COVID reduce fertility in especially men more than women but more research must be conducted to ascertain a more complete picture of the problem.[54] In recent studies about Long COVID, men that contracted COVID-19 reported they had erectile problems 3 times more than men in the control group when comparing men with similar ages mental physical health and BMI. 28% of men who tested positive reported erectile dysfunction problems in comparison to 9% in the control group. Infertility from COVID-19 occurs because the virus and vascular damage from the virus remains in the area after the infection occurs.[55] To summarise: the vaccine probably won’t make you infertile; but the coronavirus will. So don’t be a dick, and get the shot.[pun not intended]

They do not work[edit]

This is not the image of an ineffective vaccine.[56]

Anti-vaxx proponents cite the possibility of infection even after vaccination as evidence that the coronavirus vaccine is inefficacious, ignoring the fact that vaccination does lower the chances of infection and hospitalisation after infection. The purpose of vaccination is not to reduce cases; it is to save lives. This does not necessarily mean saving the lives of those infected with COVID-19, but also others who might need ICU treatment as well—if the ICUs are full with COVID-19 patients, there's nowhere to go when one's heart is at its last.[57]

Cases where fully vaccinated individuals become infected, undergo hospitalisation or die are known as “breakthrough cases”. These are incredibly rare, but still expected, as the immune system is chaotic and no vaccines can be 100% effective.[58]

And should one say that the vaccines are useless because they're not a magic bullet that gives immunity to any and all variants till forever, bear in mind that H1N1 (often unfairly called the Spanish Flu) is still around—and deadly. It's been with us for over a hundred years, and a variation of it last caused a pandemic in 2009—and it was still far tamer than the SARS-CoV-2 virus is.[59] The 2009 H1N1 pandemic caused an estimated 203,000 deaths globally,[60] and it may be best that we not include current global COVID-19 deaths because of how fast the number changes. (Spoiler alert: it's way more than 203,000.)

Nowadays, H1N1 is one of the viruses/virii the seasonal flu vaccine targets. It's retooled every year in response to mutations and what various Influenza A strains are circulating through scientific consensus by global scientists. Unless you're a selfish prick, you're probably used to getting it yearly. [61] [62]

As of 23 August 2021, Pfizer/BioNTech's Comirnaty has FDA approval for adults, with emergency authorization for the 12-15 age group.[63]

They make you magnetic[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Human magnet

The vaccines do not make one magnetic,[64] in spite of the unfortunately aptly named Dr. Sherri Tenpenny testifying so in Ohio with a bit of failed show-and-tell later in the same session by a registered nurse who demanded the crowd for answers why a key supposedly stuck to her chest and neck.[65] We're frankly a little confused, as this is something RW used to have to explain as not real for less deadly scammy reasons.

They contain aborted fetal cells[edit]

This is a misconception that appeals strongly to people who are anti-abortion. Aborted fetal cells are not contained in the most popular COVID-19 vaccines, although they were used to test the vaccine. The cell line used in testing was HEK-293, which was obtained from a fetus that happened to be aborted in the 1960-1970s.[66] Contrary to what anti-vaxxers may claim, the purpose of the abortion was not to obtain the HEK cells. It makes absolutely zero sense to reject the COVID-19 vaccine based solely on the fact it was tested on HEK-293 cells, as almost all modern medicines have been tested on it. It's nearly impossible to avoid using pharmaceutical products that have not been tested on HEK cells – if using medicines/vaccines tested on them is "unethical", you can say goodbye to modern medicine. In fact, it is estimated that the top 20 medications prescribed in the US have been tested on HEK cell lines.[67]

They clot your blood[edit]

The cases of blood clotting have been well below the natural frequency without vaccination—that's to say, from the time before the vaccines were ready, severe cases of Covid-19 saw blood clotting in 20-40% of patients. Conversely, these blood clots have only been seen in Johnson & Johnson/Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines—to the tune of 35 known cases in the former and 300 in the latter, and none have been reported with mRNA vaccines. For a yearly US perspective, roughly 900,000 people experience a clot and 100,000 die of one.[68][69]

So cases of VITT (vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia) do exist, but they are rare: getting sick with Covid-19 carries higher risk than normal or when vaccinated, so on the whole, health professionals recommend you get the vaccine, even if it is Johnson & Johnson/Janssen or AstraZeneca.[69]

Antivaxxers love to say that vaccines aren’t subject to enough safety regulations and oversight.

How do they explain that the CDC and FDA acted so incredibly quickly and decisively to investigate a complication that has occurred in less than 1 in a million people?

The scientific and regulatory processes are sound. The system works and it works well.[70]

It's the Mark of the Beast[edit]

Some Evangelical Christians have claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine is the Mark of the Beast or that it is the preparation for it.[71] This is due to the fact that most of them are Republicans, with many of them having become antivaxxers due to QAnon.

One interpretation hinges on a conflation, or claimed derivation,[72] between the Ancient Greek terms χάραξ (charax) (meaning potentially "a pointed stake" and thus speculatively involving a needle)[73] and χάραγμα (charagma) meaning "a stamp, impress" or "sculpture; engraving, a stamp, sign".[74] They certainly aren't the same term and, though related, the latter does not derive from the former but rather from χᾰρᾰ́σσω (kharássō).[75] The English word character derives from χᾰρᾰ́σσω (kharássō) too,[76] yet quite obviously has nothing to do with a needle, per se.[note 1] Also, even if we suspended our justified disbelief and took it as fact that the Book of Revelation refers to a vaccine as the Mark of the Beast, there remains the question: for what reason should it be considered that this is talking about the COVID-19 vaccine in particular and not some other vaccine — or even any and all vaccines? The answers to these questions are certain to vary, and many will rely on further speculation and personal interpretation. Overall, this is rife with unsound leaps in logic, requiring a suspension of critical thinking to buy into.

Situation in 2024[edit]

Vaccine effectiveness[edit]

On 1 February 2024, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that the COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection has been 54% (95% CI = 46%–60%) in the period from September 2023 till January 2024 for immunocompetent adults recently vaccinated (median 52 days since vaccination) with a XBB.1.5–derived vaccine in the U.S. compared with those who didn't receive an updated vaccine.[77]


  1. You could have a character who is a needle or a vaccine. But we're getting off in the weeds here...


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