Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world last year, people had been hoping for a vaccine to bring back a sense of normalcy. Now that the vaccines are here, people are hesitant to get one. While vaccine side effects are partly responsible, a sizeable chunk is deferring the jab based on some baseless reports.
Some unverified claims on social media and in WhatsApp groups have claimed that vaccines are being used to kill patients and another popular claim is that the governments are implanting a microchip under people's skins with the shot of vaccine. To make people believe, several videos have also stormed social media platforms, mainly Twitter and TikTok, where people are placing tiny magnets on the arm of someone who has received a COVID vaccine shot. It has become so popular that people are calling it COVID vaccine magnet challenge.
Upon seeing these videos, one can easily be fooled as the magnets appear to stick to the arm where the shot was given, which is being used as a proof for microchip conspiracy. If you've come across such videos or claims about microchips, it is important to read further.
International Business Times reviewed the viral videos and the claims made regarding the vaccines. Even though the videos appear convincing, there's no shred of evidence to support the conspiracy. First of all, none of the vaccines, be it from Pfizer or Bharat Biotech, contain microchips or magnetic materials for the magnets to stick to your skin after the jab.
Many health experts have already debunked the claims. There are no materials used in the vaccine to turn you magnetic. The ingredients, depending on the makers, sometimes contain small quantity of micrograms of biological material, which is not harmful in any way.
"Your body is made up of exactly the same kind of biological building blocks [as the materials in the vaccine], so there is simply no way that injecting a tiny fragment of this material could have any impact. Most food is made of similar molecules, and eating food doesn't make people magnetic," Al Edwards, an associate professor in biomedical technology from the University of Reading, told Newsweek.
All major vaccine makers, including Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca have made all the vaccine ingredients publicly available. None of them have any magnetic material, let alone a chip.
In addition, Pfizer spokesperson debunked the magnet challenge. "The vaccine does not cause a magnetic response when it's injected. Pfizer is aware of the rise in anti-vax sentiment and misinformation, especially on social media platforms, with some people affected more than others during the pandemic," Pfizer spokesperson was quoted as saying by Newsweek.
As for what's causing the magnetic effect on skin, there are a few theories. It is possible that people are using adhesive to show the magnetic effect on skin. Or similar to how a coin sticks to the forehead when there's moisture on the skin, a similar technique could be employed in the viral videos. Regardless, the evidence clearly suggests that COVID vaccines do not have microchips or any material that can turn you magnetic.