The claim: Monkeypox is a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine
Amid the recent surge of monkeypox cases across the U.S., some social media users are claiming the disease is linked to COVID-19 vaccines.
"Monkeypox is another lie. It's VACCINEPOX! Get it right," reads a screenshot of a tweet shared to Instagram on Aug. 1.
One of the post's comments reads, "It will be interesting to see how many unjabbed never get it but then again that probably still wont be enough to awaken the masses."
The post generated over 300 likes in less than a week. A July 24 article from The Expose, a United Kingdom-based alternative news site, shared to Facebook also details claims that monkeypox is only ''circulating in countries'' where the Pfizer vaccine has been distributed. Similar posts have been shared widely on Facebook.
But the claim is baseless.
Infectious disease specialists told USA TODAY that monkeypox is not linked to any of the COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines also do not contain any live viruses, so it is not possible that monkeypox can be a side effect.
USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.
Monkeypox not linked to COVID-19 vaccine
Monkeypox is most certainly not a side effect of the COVID vaccine or any vaccine for that matter, Dr. Scott Roberts, an infectious disease specialist at Yale Medicine, told USA TODAY. There is no evidence from any clinical studies to support this claim.
Monkeypox outbreaks have affected the U.S. and other parts of the world even before the production and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. The World Health Organization says that "human monkeypox was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo." In 2003, 47 cases of monkeypox were identified in six states.
Monkeypox is caused by infection from the monkeypox virus which comes from the Orthopoxvirus genus, according to the World Health Organization. The disease can be "transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus," the WHO says on its website.
The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any live viruses or monkeypox virus DNA that can transmit the disease in a person, according to Roberts. The Food and Drug Administration does not list monkeypox virus as an ingredient for the three COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. - Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Fact check: Altered image shows fabricated magazine headline about monkeypox stigma
Dr. Stuart Ray, a COVID-19 expert at Johns Hopkins University, agreed, noting that since COVID-19 vaccines are not transmissible agents, they can't cause an infectious disease like monkeypox.
"Monkeypox is unrelated clinically, genetically, and epidemiologically from COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, and vaccination," he said.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which deliver mRNA strains in the body to help cells produce spike protein which the immune system later fights off through antibodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But mRNA vaccines "cannot cause infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 or other viruses."
The monkeypox virus is not a lie, as the post claims. There are over 9,000 cases of monkeypox in the U.S. as of Aug. 9, according to the latest data from the CDC. Several states have begun to provide monkeypox vaccines to the public to help limit the spread of the disease. The Biden administration last week declared the outbreak a public health emergency.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that monkeypox is a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. Experts said there is no evidence to support the claim. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain live viruses, so it is not possible for monkeypox to be linked to the vaccine.
Our fact-check sources:
Dr. Taison Bell, Aug. 4, Phone interview with USA TODAY
Dr. Scott Roberts, Aug. 4, Phone interview with USA TODAY
Dr. Stuart Ray, Aug. 4, Email exchange with USA TODAY
USA TODAY, Aug. 4, Biden administration declares monkeypox a public health emergency
AFP Fact Check, June 9, Monkeypox not a side effect of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine
USA TODAY, July 27, Addressing myths about monkeypox: A look at symptoms, treatment and other common questions
USA TODAY, Aug. 2, Monkeypox state cases: New York, California top numbers as Biden admin declares emergency
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Aug. 9, 2022 U.S. Map & Case Count
Associated Press, May 24, COVID-19 vaccines didn't cause monkeypox outbreak
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 15, Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Monkeypox is not a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine