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Fact Check-No evidence graphene oxide is present in available COVID-19 vaccines via lipid nanoparticles

Allegations that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are toxic because they contain graphene oxide on their lipid nanoparticles (which help transport the mRNA through the body) are baseless.

The claims stem from a July 28 talk show ( archive.ph/eTKvT ) where a woman in the video, introduced as Karen Kingston, points to documentation on a lipid particle maker’s website which allegedly shows that graphene oxide is present in their products.

Pfizer and Moderna told Reuters, however, that graphene oxide is not among their vaccines’ ingredients.

The video has since gained over 1.3 million views on Rumble and has been replicated on YouTube ( archive.ph/8f6vW ) , BitChute ( archive.ph/18Cfp , archive.ph/pfpLo ), Brighteon ( archive.ph/krx6O ) and social media ( archive.ph/Uew1Q , archive.ph/e3ZMC ).

WHAT IS GRAPHENE OXIDE?

Graphene oxide is a “single-atomic layered material” made through the oxidation of graphite (  here  ). When chemically reduced (  bit.ly/3yAcXpn  ,  here ), graphene oxide can create graphene which has been described as “the strongest, thinnest and most conductive material on earth” (  here ).

Medical experts at Meedan’s Health Desk explain  here   that this compound, which has been studied for multiple biomedical applications including biosensors and drug delivery, could be toxic to humans in certain amounts. But in the case of its use in potential vaccines, current research indicates these would contain such small quantities that it would not be toxic to human cells.

The medical experts said that “many more studies and trials are needed” to determine whether the compound would be completely safe and effective for biomedical applications.

Both manufacturers told Reuters the material is not present in their vaccines, and it is not listed among the publicly shared ingredients of the vaccines.

MANUFACTURERS ASSURE GRAPHENE OXIDE IS NOT IN MRNA VACCINES

“Graphene oxide is not used in the manufacture of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine,” Keanna Ghazvini , Pfizer’s Senior Associate of Global Media Relations told Reuters via email. 

Ray Jordan, Moderna’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, told Reuters via email: “I can confirm that our products do not contain graphene oxide.”

Reuters previously debunked the overall false claim that COVID-19 vaccines contained graphene oxide  here  . 

This article will address the main claim that graphene oxide is present in mRNA COVID-19 vaccines via lipid nanoparticles (LNPs); other allegations made in the 25-minute clip are beyond the scope of this article.

LIPID NANOPARTICLES

The lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) in mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are essentially “delivery vehicles” that protect the mRNA when the vaccine is injected and transport it to the right place in the cells ( here ).

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) ( here )is a compound used in both COVID-19 mRNA vaccines to keep the lipid nanoparticles stable, medical experts at Meedan’s Health Desk explain  here   . (This is why the term PEG-LNPs may be used.)

Polyethylene glycol can be found listed as an ingredient among the lipids in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine ( here , here   ) and the Moderna vaccine ( here , here ).

“PEG has a long history of safe use in FDA-approved drug formulations,” Kathryn Whitehead, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) ( here ) told Reuters via email. See more ( here ).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend the mRNA vaccines for people with a PEG allergy ( here    )

STUDY PRESENTED PREDATES PANDEMIC

The woman in the video points to information on the website of Sinopeg, a Chinese company, which is among various companies in the world ( here ) that produce lipid nanoparticles ( here ). 

She shows an entry of Sinopeg’s website in the section “Industry news” ( archive.ph/ic1sg ). The information, however, is about a different PEG (a polyethylene glycol monomethyl ether, not the PEG-LNPs in the mRNA vaccines) that was “successfully grafted to the surface of graphene.”

Sinopeg referred to a study originally published by the journal Composites Science and Technology ( here ). The publication first received the study on Dec. 2019, predating the detection of COVID-19.

Contacted by Reuters, Sinopeg said that the company has “never provided any lipid nanoparticles that include graphene oxide” and that the grafted graphene mentioned in this study “is not related to COVID-19 vaccines.”

Whitehead concurred.  “Yes, there are a million different types of PEG. No doubt there are some you can purchase that are attached to graphene,” she said. “However, those are totally not the PEG-lipids used in the nanoparticles [in mRNA vaccines].”

Ghazvini told Reuters that “none of our lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are manufactured in China” and said that Sinopeg is not a manufacturer of the LNPs used in their Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. 

Moderna did not immediately respond whether they used Sinopeg LNPs.

Further information about the manufacturers that do produce the lipid nanoparticles in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines can be found here , here , here , here and here .

UNRELATED PATENT

Around timestamp 2:58 of the video, the woman refers to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine patent alongside a Chinese patent application. This can be seen again at timestamp 10:09. This patent, however, is unrelated to Moderna or the Pfizer-BionTech COVID-19 vaccines.

The application in question can be found  here  . According to Google patents, the application was filed by the Shanghai National Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology ( www.nercn.com.cn/ ) on Sept. 27, 2020. As of the publishing of this check, the application carries a “pending” status. 

It is for an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate which did indeed include “graphene oxide as a carrier” but had not reached human testing phase.

This potential vaccine is among the 184 immunizations that are still in pre-clinical development, which means it has been tested only on animals ( here ), according to the latest information by the World Health Organization (WHO) here   (see excel document, find “LNP-encapsulated mRNA encoding RBD” by developer “Fudan University/ Shanghai JiaoTong University/RNACure Biopharma” in the pre-clinical tab).

Spanish fact-checker Newtral also addressed this Chinese patent application mix-up,   here , as false claims about toxic levels of graphene oxide in the vaccines have circulated online.

Reuters asked Kingston, who featured in the video, for comment. She encouraged Reuters to ask experts how they could be certain no graphene oxide was in the vaccine but offered no further remarks on the documentation referenced in the interview.

VERDICT

False. Reuters did not find evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines contain graphene oxide in their lipid nanoparticles. Pfizer and Moderna have said that no graphene oxide is present in their vaccines. A video presents an unrelated patent and an unrelated article from the website of medical manufacturer Sinopeg.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here    .         

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