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Fact Check: Incorrect, Taking COVID-19 Vaccines Doesn’t Create New Variant of the Virus

Paynesville — A viral WhatsApp message purportedly quoting Nobel Peace prize winner Luc Montagnier have claimed that COVID -19 vaccines are responsible for new variants of the novel coronavirus.

Report By: Grace Z. Gaie, Local Voices Liberia Fact Checker

However, research done by Local Voices Liberia Fact Checking Team, shows that there is no scientific evidence that supports this claim.

The World Health Organization has said that like any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild side effects such as a low-grade fever or pain or redness at the injection site. Most reactions to vaccines are mild and go away within a few days on their own. More serious or long-lasting side effects to vaccines are possible but extremely rare.

The WHO says “vaccines stimulate our immune system to prevent the virus from entering our cells and multiplying themselves. Vaccines reduce the viral load in our bodies, also making us less likely to infect others and so reduce chances of the virus spreading through the community. The faster and the greater the number of people who get vaccinated, the less the chances of viral variants emerging. At the present time, there are no variants that are resistant to vaccines”.

Additionally, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “a growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and potentially less likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others.”

When Local Voices Liberia contacted renowned Indian doctor, Dr. Jaya Shreedhar who has been working to counter misinformation about the global pandemic, she said “viruses constantly multiply and mutate that is, they change themselves in tiny ways, because that’s their nature. Variants or mutants emerge spontaneously and naturally as the virus multiplies inside the body and spreads through communities over time. SARS CoV-2 produces a new variant on average every 11 days.”

How exactly do variants emerge? 

SARS-CoV-2 creates thousands of copies of itself within the space of just a few hours. But not every offspring is a perfect replica of its parent, explains Dr. Shreedhar, who added that “Copying errors creep in as the virus replicates and this is how they happen”.

She continues: “When the virus multiplies, the sequence of these nucleotides can get shuffled, resulting in baby viruses that look slightly different from the parent — these are called variants. Many of these mutations make the virus less healthy and most variants die out naturally. Sometimes, these mutations give the variant the ability to spread faster or cause more severe disease. Such variants are called variants of concern.”

What makes the B. 1.1.7, which is now in Liberia, different from the other variants?

According to a study published in The Lancet, a higher proportion of individuals who tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant in the UK had at least one symptom compared with those without the variant. Loss of taste and smell were also less common among individuals infected with B.1.1.7, whereas cough, sore throat, myalgia, and fatigue were more frequently reported (although absolute differences were small).

The B.1.1.7 or Alpha variant is the second most transmissible after B.1.617.1 or the Delta variant.

Although the Alpha variant is dominant in Liberia, Dr. Shreedhar advised that “genomic sequencing surveillance” is needed to determine if the Delta variant has appeared as is happening.

According to Dr. Shreedhar, severe illness, though not as much as the Delta variant. Pfizer and Moderna (mRNA vaccines), the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Novavax and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are all effective against the Alpha variant.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is less effective against the Beta variant or the B.1.3.51 and this has caused South Africa to switch to other vaccines for its population.


Based on the abovementioned details, the claim purportedly made by Nobel Peace prize Winner Luc Montagner is incorrect. There is no scientifically proven information that by taking COVID-19 vaccine may cause death or create new variants of the virus.

The WHO, CDC, John Hopkins University and the Africa CDC have all validated the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

Claims Verdict
 COVID -19 vaccines are responsible for new variants of the novel coronavirus.


Incorrect. No Scientific Reference

You may contact us to fact check any claim or information relative to Liberia. Contact us on:
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LVL Fact Checking Desk is part of the Liberia Media Initiative co-financed by the European Union. The funder had no say in the production of this report. 

Local Voices Liberia is a network of dedicated Liberian journalists based in the 15 counties working to lift the development concerns and progress of rural communities.



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