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Fact check: COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the ingredients listed in these posts

Social media users have been sharing posts online that claim COVID-19 vaccines contain human aborted fetus cells, triton X-100, thimerosal, and aluminum. This claim is false.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

Examples can be seen  here  and here .

The post reads: “The CDC’s new slogan is #VaccinateWithConfidence. MRC-5 cells are human male aborted fetus; WI-38 are female. TritionX-100 is a detergent used in spermicide. Thimerosal is 49.5% mercury. Aluminum is a neurotoxin. Check out the other vaccine ingredients here: cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/… (screenshot of incomplete link)”

In the United States the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but they are not yet fully FDA-approved. At the time of publication in Feb. 2021 there was no fully FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine (here )

PFIZER-BIONTECH COVID-19 VACCINE

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered into the muscle in two doses, three weeks apart (here ).

A fact sheet on the FDA’s website here discloses the ingredients in the vaccine. It includes mRNA, lipids, potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate and sucrose.

It does not list human male aborted fetus cells, triton X-100, thimerosal, or aluminum in its ingredients.

MODERNA COVID-19 VACCINE

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is administered into the muscle in two doses, one month apart (here ).

A fact sheet on the FDA’s website here discloses the ingredients in the vaccine. It includes mRNA, lipids, cholesterol, 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose.

It does not list human male aborted fetus cells, triton X-100, thimerosal, or aluminum in its ingredients.

FETAL CELLS IN VACCINE DEVELOPMENT

Cloned fetal cells (not fetal tissue) are sometimes used in the development, confirmation or production process of making vaccines – including the COVID-19 vaccine ( here  , here  ). The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, are not made using human cells, but they have been used in vaccine testing.

Human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells are not fetal cells taken from recent abortions, but from cell lines derived from decades old fetal cells (more detail on this  here  ).

None of the finished COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. contain actual HEK cells ( here  ,  here ), so it is not correct to describe them as a component of the vaccine.

TRITIONX-100

Trition X –100 or octylphenol ethoxylate is an ingredient that is present in some influenza vaccines (here , here ).

Dr. Vincent Iannelli, a board-certified pediatrician, explains in his blog here that this ingredient is a surfactant (reducing the surface tension of liquids) and stabilizer used in flu vaccines. He says the confusion with spermicide comes from users confusing two similar but different ingredients (octoxynol-9, a spermicide, and octoxynol-10, a different type of Triton X-100 nonionic surfactant used in vaccines).

THIMEROSAL

Thimerosal is a preservative that contains mercury. It is used in multi-dose vials of some influenza vaccines to prevent the growth of bacteria, as explained by the CDC here and here  .

Methylmercury is a type of mercury found in some types of fish and high exposure levels can be toxic to humans. Thimerosal contains ethylmercury, which is less likely to be harmful as it is cleared from the body faster than methylmercury (here).

The CDC explains here that vaccines containing Thimerosal have a record of being very safe with most common side effects causing minor reactions such as redness and swelling at the injection site.

ALUMINUM

The FDA explains on its website here that aluminum salts are added to some vaccines as an adjuvant (a facilitator or supplement), used to enhance the immune response. Vaccines that contain an aluminum adjuvant have shown to be safe over six decades of use, according to the FDA.

The CDC lists various vaccines that contain aluminum here . Aluminum is not an ingredient in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, as explained by an expert here .

VERDICT

False. The COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna do not include the ingredients listed in the claim.

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

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