Facts Matter: Latest vaccine falsehood claims deadly parasite is an ingredient

  • A health worker administers a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Sept. 14 in Reading, Pa. Social media claims that AIDS-causing parasites are in the vaccine are false.

    A health worker administers a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Sept. 14 in Reading, Pa. Social media claims that AIDS-causing parasites are in the vaccine are false. Associated Press

Posted10/17/2021 5:30 AM

Social media users recently shared a fuzzy, black-and-white image of what is purported to be a parasite in the Pfizer vaccine, they claim is made up of "carbon, oxygen, chromium, sulphur, aluminum, chloride and nitrogen."

"It appears and is identified anatomically as a Trypanosoma cruzi parasite of which several variants are lethal and is one of many causes of acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS," the post reads.


The claim is false, according to PolitiFact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website shows the ingredients in the vaccine, and a parasite isn't on the list.

"The blurry object shown is not Trypanosoma cruzi or any other parasite," Mayo Clinic Director of Clinical Parasitology Dr. Bobbi Pritt told PolitiFact. "(It) likely represents an out-of-focus noncellular component of the vaccine."

The parasite does not cause AIDS.

"The only thing that causes AIDS is an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)," Pritt said. "And this cannot be acquired through the Pfizer vaccine."

Southwest pilots didn't stage sickout

Southwest Airlines recently announced its workers need to be vaccinated by Dec. 8. And last week, the airline canceled more than 2,000 flights.

Some social media users claimed the cancellations were because of a sickout organized by the pilots to protest the vaccine mandate.

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Fox News host Tucker Carlson repeated the claim on his show.

"This weekend, in protest, a large number of Southwest pilots called out sick and they effectively shut down their airline," he said.

But the incidents are not related, according to USA Today. The rumor was debunked by representatives from Southwest, the pilots union and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Southwest spokeswoman Alyssa Foster told USA Today the cancellations stemmed from the weather and operational issues.

"The weekend challenges were not a result of employee demonstrations, as some have reported," she said.

Casey Murray, association president for the Southwest pilots union, in an Oct. 10 statement said, "There are false claims of job actions by Southwest pilots."


"I can say with certainty that there are no work slowdowns or sickouts either related to the recent mandatory vaccine mandate or otherwise," he said.

FAA spokesman Steve Kulm told USA Today issues causing the Oct. 8 cancellations have been resolved.

"No FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday," he said.

Drones didn't cause Facebook outage

Facebook and its WhatsApp and Instagram apps went down and were unavailable for nearly six hours on Oct. 4.

Social media users have posted video of drones falling from the sky in China and falsely claimed that caused the outages.

The video is authentic but it had nothing to do with the Facebook disruption, according to Reuters.

The video shows drones falling from the sky and crashing into cars on Oct. 1 in Zhengzhou, China, during a drone light show. It is unclear what went wrong but an organizer of the event told China News Services the drone failure was due to "operation errors," according to Vice World News.

The drone incident was days before the Facebook blackout, which security experts said was possibly caused by an internal mistake, Reuters reported.

Cows won't be taxed

Recent false statements about the infrastructure and reconciliation bills claim farmers will be taxed for each cow they own.

Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin said the reconciliation bill "would impose a 'fee' on all methane emissions, including in our agriculture industry. ... The tax is estimated to cost $6,500 per dairy cow, $2,600 per head of cattle, and $500 per swine each year. That is more than what the animals are worth, it'll run ranchers out of business."

An Instagram user said the infrastructure bill would include a tax on cows.

"Just one example cattle farmers have to pay $2600 PER COW a year. Dairy cows $6500 a year. This will put millions of cattle farmers out of business," the post read.

The two bills don't include such taxes, according to The Associated Press.

The reconciliation bill includes a tax on methane emissions relating to oil and gas production, not livestock.

Sam Kieffer, American Farm Bureau Federation vice president for public affairs, in a Sept. 30 statement, said the group did a study on the hypothetical cost to agriculture using the proposed oil and gas tax.

"To clear up any confusion, I want to make clear that the current language of the reconciliation bill does not impose a methane tax on agriculture," he said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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