Fact Check: Does COVID Vaccine Cause Autoimmune Disease?

7 Jun, 2021 14:01 IST|Sakshi Post

The claim: COVID-19 vaccine will cause autoimmune disease

Fact Check: there is no clear evidence that covid vaccines cause autoimmune diseases in people.

An autoimmune illness is a condition in which the body's immune-building bacteria turn against us and kill us. This is a very rare occurrence. Many people who recently received the corona vaccine have been diagnosed with autoimmune illness, which is caused by microorganisms that act as protective barriers inside the body. Researchers also say that's not true and that we shouldn't believe it.

Sherry Tenpenny of Cleveland, Ohio, spread this erroneous material on social media. She is a physician and a campaigner, who is anti-vaccination. During an interview, the doctor shared this false information, saying, "Vaccinations have resulted in the deaths of some people. Autoimmune illnesses appear 42 days after vaccination, and a majority of individuals are hospitalized." After a year, she predicted that the situation would stay unchanged. The phrase "autoimmune disease" reappeared as a result.

She offered no evidence to back her claims. With that, it was clear that all of these points were not convincing enough. A campaign, on the other hand, began on social media. Few internet users have been circulating misleading information, claiming that autoimmune illness is to blame for so many deaths in India.

Doctors do not want you to believe what they say. They claim that receiving corona vaccines has resulted in a considerable reduction in mortality. However, vaccinated people report that if they are infected with corona, the symptoms are less severe and that they have a high chance of healing.

Autoimmune disease is occasionally encountered in the United States. People with health issues including Type 1 Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis will suffer from it. This is a condition that affects more than 2.40 million people in the United States. Various infections had afflicted them. Another 80 million people's immune systems have deteriorated. According to a Philadelphia children's hospital, no vaccination has ever caused such an incident.

However, the conclusion of one health crisis is said to usher in a new one: autoimmune illness.

Sherri Tenpenny, an osteopathic physician and anti-vaccine advocate located in Cleveland, initially made the assertion early in the epidemic, and it has since persisted.

In a February interview, Tenpenny stated, "Some people are going to die from the vaccine directly," "But a large number of people are going to start getting horribly sick and get all kinds of autoimmune diseases, 42 days to maybe a year out."

Tenpenny cites a January research as proof for her claim in a different interview on the evangelical Daystar Television Network a month later. Excerpts of this alleged document have been circulated on Facebook in posts echoed by Tenpenny.

However, there is a flaw in her citation. COVID-19 vaccinations won't trigger autoimmunity.

What is autoimmunity, and how does it affect you?

Autoimmunity, or self-immunity, is a condition in which the immune system becomes too protective, mistaking healthy tissue for the adversary and attacking it with antibodies and other immune molecules or cells.

This self-attack can target a single organ, such as the thyroid in Hashimoto's thyroiditis, or many organ systems at the same time, as in systemic lupus erythematosus. Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are two more frequent autoimmune disorders.

According to the National Institute of Health, more than 24 million individuals in the United States have an autoimmune illness, and an additional eight million individuals have a form of autoantibody — a self-attacking antibody — that may predispose them to develop an autoimmune illness in the future.

Other contributing factors, aside from the presence of autoantibodies, include genetics, environmental exposures (such as certain drugs and viral infections), lifestyle choices (such as smoking, which has been linked to inflammatory bowel disease), and gender (women are more affected than men due to estrogen's influence on the immune system).

No proven link between vaccines and autoimmune diseases

There is no evidence that vaccines cause autoimmune disorders. The idea that vaccinations cause autoimmune illnesses predates the current epidemic and has long been used by vaccine opponents to discredit them.

Despite multiple studies looking for links between the two, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia stated on its website that "no (vaccines) have consistently shown to cause autoimmune disease."

Other research has shown no link between childhood vaccines, such as those for the human papillomavirus, or HPV, and developing Type 1 diabetes in children. Other studies showed no link between vaccines and celiac disease, an autoimmune illness brought on by gluten consumption, or vaccines and autoimmune neurological problems.

The study was not even related to vaccines.

According to Aristo Vojdani, one of the paper's co-authors, researchers were looking into whether the virus that causes COVID-19 — not the vaccination — may trigger autoimmunity in the study cited by Tenpenny.

The research was conducted before the COVID-19 vaccination was available.

"There are at least ten different articles that were published in scientific journals with similar findings that the SARS-CoV-2 may cause autoimmunity," Vojdani told USA TODAY via email. "When we did the study, (the COVID-19) vaccine did not exist."

His team combined commercially produced human and rabbit antibodies tailored to combat COVID-19's spike and other viral proteins with proteins commonly seen in human tissues.

"These antibodies had moderate to strong reactions with 20 or more of these tissue antigens. This means that antibodies made against SARS-CoV-2, NOT THE VACCINE, if they remain in the body, may initiate possible autoimmune reactivity," he said in an email.

Because neither the COVID-19 vaccine nor its components were accessible to Vojdani's lab when the study was done in August 2020, he stressed that the findings of his study should not be applied to them.

"Am I worried about a future increase in autoimmune disease? Yes, as a result of infection with COVID-19, and NOT due to a vaccine that can prevent the disease with 70-95% efficacy," Vojdani said.

Our rating: False

The claim that the COVID-19 vaccinations would induce autoimmune illness is FALSE, according to our study. The research cited as proof against the COVID-19 vaccines was looking at whether the virus, rather than the vaccination, may induce autoimmune illness. The claim of autoimmunity predates the COVID-19 vaccine and has long been exploited by anti-vaccination activists to cast doubt on the safety of vaccines. There has been no solid evidence linking vaccines to autoimmune illnesses yet.

On social media, some people enjoy scaring others. People derive the sadistic pleasure of seeing someone in distress and unfortunately, they publish and share it with others out of fear. They are spreading misleading information. They prefer individuals to be in difficulty rather than receiving social assistance. That is why experts advise you not to believe everything you read on social media. They assert that any information provided by governments or the World Health Organization is trustworthy.

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