Fact Check: Will COVID-19 vaccines kill people by causing antibody- dependent enhancement?
A baseless quote has been widely attributed to a Nobel Prize winner to claim people will die from antibody-dependent enhancement after receiving a COVID-19 jab. There is no evidence to back up this claim, nor was Reuters able to find any instance where the laureate made this comment.
The claim, made in a post that has been screenshot and shared on social media platforms, says French virologist Luc Montagnier “has confirmed that there is no chance of survival for people who have received any form of the vaccine”.
Unsettling words from Nobel Prize Winner and virologist LUC Montagnier pic.twitter.com/lmpLhJd9Yz— Right Said Fred (@TheFreds) May 23, 2021
If the vaccine works then what do you care if I take it or not.— Kevin Sorbo (@ksorbs) May 27, 2021
It then quotes him as saying: “’There is no hope, and no possible treatment for those who have been vaccinated already. We must be prepared to incinerate the bodies.’” The post adds: “The scientific genius backed claims of other pre eminent [sic] virologists after studying the constituents of the vaccine. ‘They will all die from antibody dependent enhancement.’ Nothing more can be said.’”
Montagnier won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2008 with fellow scientist Francoise Barre-Sinoussi for their work identifying the HIV virus۔
More recently, Montagnier has been criticised for comments regarding HIV and the immune system, as well as a claim that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was leaked from a laboratory۔
These comments are outside the scope of this check.
Reuters was unable to find any evidence that Montagnier made the comments quoted in the social media posts. Links included in the post also offered no extra evidence: one was a Wikipedia page for the scientist and a second was for a video interview in which Montagnier talks about variants and vaccines.
The 2-minute interview clip shows Montagnier claiming COVID-19 vaccines cause antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) – in other words, they cause worse disease than before. He says this is apparent by observing where “the curve of vaccination is followed by the curve of deaths”.
However, this is not accurate. While ADE was a concern initially contemplated by scientists creating COVID-19 vaccines. There have been no signs of cases happening during clinical trials or the roll-out.
Moreover, COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to save thousands of lives. England alone has estimated the vaccines have averted more than 10,000 deaths up to the end of March 2021.
“Overwhelmingly, vaccinated people are showing protection against severe COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations,” said medical experts at Meedan Health Desk when presented with Montagnier’s claim. “This would likely not happen if ADE were occurring, because it is an acute and very serious condition that would cause significant medical alarm.”
False. Reuters was unable to find any instance of Montagnier saying the cited quote. His actual comment about ADE is inaccurate and does not reflect real-world evidence