mRNA vaccines do not cause 'cytokine storm' in vaccinated individuals

Nanditha KalidossinCOVID-19
Apr 21, 2021

List of claims


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The antibodies in the vaccine recipient’s body can attack the organs using the viral proteins made from the mRNA vaccines


There is no scientific evidence to prove the correlation between mRNA vaccines and cytokine storm in the vaccinated individuals affected by COVID-19. Therefore, the claim in FALSE

Given the vaccine roll out across the world, there has been a surge of information on the functioning of the vaccines and their effects on the body. Recently, a post on the adverse effect of mRNA vaccines injected into our bodies has been doing rounds on social media. Let us now verify the claims in the post.

Understanding how COVID-19 vaccines work

According to Centre for Disease Control (CDC), it has been clearly stated that mRNA vaccines do not use a live virus that causes COVID-19 and that mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell where the genetic matter or DNA is kept.

What is mRNA?

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a single-stranded molecule naturally present in our cells. Its essential role is to carry the instructions for making protein from our genes, located in the cell nucleus to the cytoplasm, the main body of our cells. The enzymes present in the cytoplasm then translate the information stored in mRNA and make the protein. It must be noted that mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, where the DNA is stored. Therefore, it does not affect or interact with the DNA in any way.

How do mRNA vaccines work?

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is the genetic material that tells your body how to make proteins and how mRNA vaccine essentially works is that it contains a material from the virus that teaches the body cells how to make copies of the spike protein. The cell breaks down and destroys the genetic material of the mRNA vaccine as soon as the instructions to the cells to make the proteins are finished. When a new protein piece is injected, our immune system recognizes the foreign protein and since it does not belong there, the immune system begins to build a response by making antibodies T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future. mRNA vaccines are safe and effective. Therefore, this is in contradiction to what is mentioned in the post that the antibodies will react to the presence of new coronavirus by spotting the protein in the organs.

What about 'Cytokine Storm'?

Additionally, the term ‘cytokine storm’ denotes a hyperactive immune response characterized by the release of interferons, interleukins, tumor necrosis factors, chemokines, and several other mediators. Cytokine storm implies that the levels of released cytokines are injurious to host cells.  It has been linked with severe cases of COVID-19, although its significance in relation to the disease is still under question. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that the instruction of making copies of the spike protein will in turn affect the organs that have this protein and destroy the organs and cause fatality. Neither did CDC or World Health Organization have listed any such reactions or adverse reactions to the vaccines. The CDC did list out the common side effects of the vaccine including fever, fatigue, headaches, body aches, chills, among others. Similar fact-check was done by Reuters which can be read here.

History of an anti-vaccination stance

In fact, the author Dr. Dolores Cahill, member of the faculty at University College Dublin (UCD), is known to have a past with an anti-vaccination stance. Earlier, she has opposed vaccinations by claiming COVID-19 is not real but merely a fear-mongering propaganda tool used by the media & politicians to make people sick and force vaccinations on them. Following this, the European Commission raised that such claims can cause significant alarm and have asked her to resign as Vice-Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

In summary, there is no scientific evidence to prove the correlation between mRNA vaccines and cytokine storm in the vaccinated individuals affected by COVID-19.

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