On May 7 and May 8, a number of Facebook users published an opinion voiced by Russian Academician Aleksandr Redko about COVID-19 vaccines. Redko claims that since phase 3 trials have yet to be conducted, patients automatically become participants of an experiment. Moreover, vaccinated people are carriers of infection and they get sick twice more often than before being vaccinated. To prove his words, Redko cites an example of Israel, where, as he claims, mortality and morbidity risks have increased twice.
The information spread by Facebook users referring to the Russian Academician is false. Vaccination does not lead to transmission of infection, because the approved mRNA vaccines do not contain live viruses, while the Sinopharm vaccine enables people to make antibodies against the coronavirus through the inactivated virus. In addition, there is no evidence that vaccination increases the morbidity risks twice. The information about increased deaths in Israel due to vaccination is not true either. Furthermore, the posts spread on social media do not specify which vaccine Redko is talking about that leaves an impression that all COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous.
Redko talks about Russian Sputnik V
It is noteworthy that in the interview with osnmedia.ru, Aleksandr Redko mentions only Russian vaccine, Sputnik V. However, the posts spread on social media do not specify which vaccine Redko is talking about that leaves an impression that all COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous.
Redko notes that Russia’s Sputnik V has not yet gone through phase 3 clinical trials that is not true. The Gamaleya National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology published the results of its phase 3 trials in The Lancet on February 2, 2021.
According to The New York Times, on April 26, 2021, the board of Brazil’s vaccine regulator rejected Sputnik V, saying that it contained adenoviruses that had not been properly disabled and that replicating adenoviruses could make the vaccine dangerous. Anvisa, Brazil’s regulatory agency, also complained of incomplete data about the vaccine’s efficacy and safety. The Russian developers pushed back against Anvisa’s claims and said they would sue for defamation.
How effective are other vaccines?
The COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) have gone through multiple clinical trials to prove their safety and efficacy.
None of the COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson) authorized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.
“This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19,” CDC notes on its website. Thus, vaccinated people do not carry an infection and do not transmit it.
According to CDC, COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. CDC also notes that it “typically takes a few weeks” for the body to build immunity after vaccination. Two doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are needed to achieve efficacy. Moderna efficacy is achieved in 14 days after receiving the second dose and Pfizer vaccine efficacy is achieved in 7 days after the second dose. “That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick,” CDC said.
Clinical trials have confirmed that Pfizer can provide 95% protection and Moderna – 94.1% protection against COVID-19. It means that their efficacy is not 100% and some people may still get infected even after receiving two doses of these vaccines.
According to evidence assessment released by the World Health Organization on May 3, Sinopharm’s efficacy is 78.1%. Unlike other authorized vaccines, Sinopharm is an inactivated vaccine, which works by using killed viral particles to expose the body’s immune system to the virus. If mRNA vaccines teach our body how to generate the so-called “spike protein” or protein fragments causing immune response, Sinopharm was created via the more traditional method of using an inactived or attenuated virus to trigger an immune response. Thus, Sinopharm contains an inactivated dead virus, which can infect the cells. To inactivate the virus, it should pass through the stages of high-energy ionizing radiation and use of disinfectants. In this case, a dead, inactivated virus triggers immune response, because the initial structure of the virus is partially preserved.
See detailed information about how various COVID-19 vaccines work in a medical blog prepared by Professor Giorgi Kamkamidze for Myth Detector: Coronavirus vaccines – myths and reality
Israel’s COVID-19 statistics
Redko also mentions Israel’s example, claiming that death rate allegedly increased and risks of reinfection doubled in the country following vaccination. In fact, analysis of vaccination data in Israel showed that two doses of Pfizer vaccine significantly reduce morbidity, hospitalization and mortality rates.
In a statement released on March 4, 2021, the Israeli Health Ministry said that the reports about increased morbidity and mortality allegedly caused by vaccination are false.
“The vaccine’s efficacy measures the chances of people vaccinated with two vaccine doses to be infected with coronavirus compared to people who were not vaccinated at all. According to the most current data, the vaccine was found to have very high efficacy against infection, serious infection, hospitalizations and mortality,” the statement reads.
In addition, the Israeli Health Ministry published statistical data on Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine efficacy within 14 days from the administration of the second dose:
- 95.8% in preventing all infection cases
- 98.0% in preventing infection with fever and/or respiratory symptoms
- 98.9% in preventing hospitalizations due to coronavirus disease
- 99.2% in preventing severe infection due to coronavirus disease
- 98.9% in preventing mortality due to coronavirus disease
Midaat, a fact-checking organization, said that the information about increased deaths in Israel due to vaccination is false.
According to the article released by Nature, a British weekly scientific journal, COVID-19 vaccines are helping to curb infections and hospitalizations among older people, almost 6 weeks after shots were rolled out in that group.
“Close to 90% of people aged 60 and older in the country have received their first dose of Pfizer’s 2-dose vaccine so far. Now, data collected by Israel’s Ministry of Health show that there was a 41% drop in confirmed COVID-19 infections in that age group, and a 31% drop in hospitalizations from mid-January to early February. In comparison, for people aged 59 and younger — of which just more than 30% have been vaccinated — cases dropped by only 12% and hospitalizations by 5% over the same time. The figures are based on analysis of roughly a quarter of a million COVID-19 infections,” according to Nature.
Scientists suppose that even one dose of Pfizer vaccine significantly reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19.
In early February of 2021, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that more than 97% of recent COVID-19 deaths in Israel over the past month were people who had not been vaccinated.
Disinformation as if number of infections increased in Israel following vaccination was also spread previously. See details in Myth Detector’s earlier article:
Manipulative report alleging that vaccine caused increase in Covid-19 cases in England and Israel
Who is Aleksandr Redko?
Since 1997, Aleksandr Redko served as the head of the Siberian association “Golden Altai.” In 2007-2009, he led the office of the Altai Administration in St. Petersburg. Since 2009, he has been a member of the Kolomyagi Municipality City Council. Redko graduated from the Altai State Medical University. He has questioned the vaccine efficacy on multiple occasions.
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