Ask the Experts Covid-19 WhatsApp video DEBUNKED: Is the jab safe, can it alter your DNA?

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Covid vaccines have undergone rigorous testing and safety checks before they are administered by medical professionals to the general public. All vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict safety standards and it is hoped their rollout will help to prevent further hospitalisations and deaths from coronavirus. However, despite overwhelming assurances from medical experts that vaccines are in fact safe and effective, some attempt to discredit them. Anti-vax videos and messages have been common during the pandemic, as demonstrated by the Ask the Experts video which circulated on WhatsApp.

BBC Panorama has investigated the rise of anti-vaccine content on social media platforms, with the research due to air on Monday night.

The programme investigated a video a woman called Rosemary, 83, was sent via Whatsapp called ‘Ask the Experts’.

The video features several people based around the world with medical titles, claiming that Covid vaccines are not safe for use.

Rosemary said of the video: “It sounded so real and the people were so plausible and they were named as clinicians and doctors.”

The Ask the Experts video is just one of many anti-vax initiatives to have circulated online in recent months.

Many have sought to discredit the Covid vaccines as unsafe while fuelling myths such as that vaccines can alter DNA.

In some cases, people have also made unfounded claims that the vaccine can cause infertility.

Read on to find out how the evidence debunks some of the most common myths about Covid vaccines.

Are Covid vaccines safe?

Vaccines have now been in use for several years and have been credited with eradicating several deadly diseases in the past, such as smallpox.

Some people’s concern about vaccine safety may have been prompted by the relatively quick speed the Covid vaccines have been developed and approved compared to other vaccines in the past.

However, all of the vaccines approved in the UK have met the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) strict standards of safety.

Approved Covid vaccines have all been tested in clinical trials involving thousands of people.

In the UK alone, more than 15 million people have received at least one dose of an approved Covid vaccine.

Reports of serious side effects, like allergic reactions, have been very rare according to the NHS.

No long-term complications have been reported for any of the vaccines currently in use in the UK either.

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Do Covid vaccines alter your DNA?

Many social media posts have centred on the idea that Covid vaccines can alter your DNA, but this just isn’t the case.

Many Covid vaccines, such as the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, are forms of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine.

Although some traditional vaccines may use modified or inactive forms of a virus to help people build up immunity, mRNA vaccines do not contain any live virus.

The mRNA vaccines use codes for a specific antigen which, when produced within the body, is recognised by the immune system.

After cells have made copies of the harmless virus protein unique to the virus, the body destroys the genetic material from the vaccine.

The immune system is then equipped with antibodies prepared to fight a real case of the virus in the future. A person’s DNA is not altered by the process.

Can Covid vaccines cause infertility?

Medical experts say claims that Covid vaccines can cause infertility are unfounded.

Professor Lucy Chappell told the BBC there is no “plausible biological mechanism” for the vaccine to affect fertility.

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said at a press briefing he has “never heard of a vaccine that affects fertility”.

Professor Van-Tam added that such a claim is “a nasty, pernicious scare story, but that’s all it is”.

Can you catch COVID-19 from the vaccine?

The Covid vaccines do not contain live COVID-19 virus, so it isn’t possible for someone to catch COVID-19 from the vaccine.

However, as vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, people can still get infected with COVID-19 after having the vaccine.

Experts also think people can still spread the virus onto others after they have been vaccinated.

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