Did Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Change DNA In Liver Cells?!

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Did scientists prove that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine changed the DNA of liver cells?!

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!


Claim : Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Changed DNA In Liver Cells!

Anti-vaccination and ivermectin proponents have gone bananas over the new study from the Lund University in Sweden.

They are sharing it as evidence (finally!) of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine actually integrating with our DNA, and changing our genome, as they had always claimed.

Did Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Change DNA In Liver Cells?!


Truth : Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Did NOT Change DNA In Liver Cells!

This is yet another example of vaccine fake news based on accidental / intentional misinterpretation of a single scientific study.

Here is what you really need to know about this Lund University study…

Fact #1 : Study Did NOT Say Pfizer Vaccine Changed Our DNA

First things first – the Lund University study is called Intracellular Reverse Transcription of Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 In Vitro in Human Liver Cell Line, and you can read it in its entirety here.

If you read just the discussion, you will note that the study authors actually pointed out that their study does NOT show that the Pfizer vaccine integrates with the liver cell DNA, or alters it in any way.

At this stage, we do not know if DNA reverse transcribed from BNT162b2 is integrated into the cell genome.

To be clear, the study offers no evidence that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine changes our DNA in any way or form.

Fact #2 : It Was A Laboratory Study

I should also point out the obvious fact that this was an in-vitro study – a laboratory study, not a clinical study.

In-vitro studies are important, but they cannot be extrapolated to make any conclusion about what actually happens in a human body.

For example, in-vitro studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin have an inhibitory effect on the SARS-CoV-2 virus; but once tested in actual human beings – they are shown to have no clinical benefit.

Read more : Study Shows 10X Ivermectin Can’t Prevent Severe COVID-19!

In silico in vitro in vivo clinical importance

Fact #3 : Study Was Based On Liver Cancer Cells

The casual reader of the Lund University study will not realise that Huh7 (or Huh-7) cells are not ordinary liver cells that you or I have.

Huh7 cells were derived from the liver tumour of a 57 year-old Japanese man, and are special because :

  • they are immortal liver cancer cells that can keep multiplying
  • they are highly-susceptible to Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection
  • they have an abnormal number of chromosomes (between 55 and 63, normal human cells have 46)

The Huh7 cell line is therefore used to study liver cancer and Hepatitis C, as well as drugs that may combat HCV.

It is important to understand that Huh7 cells are not representative of normal human cells.

Fact #4 : Huh7 Liver Cells Were Cultured In Plates

For a “more physiologically relevant study of viruses“, these Huh7 cells have to be cultured in a NASA-designed 3D Rotating Wall Vessel (RWV) bioreactor.

These RWV bioreactors create 3D aggregates of Huh7 cells that are more “similar in structure and function” to their in vivo counterparts, with “completely altered gene expression and differentiation patterns“.

In other words, these RWV-grown Huh7 cells look and behave differently, more like regular human cells compared to plate-cultured Huh7 cells.

For the record, the Lund University study used plate-cultured Huh7 cells, and not RWV-grown Huh7 cells.

There is nothing wrong with that, but we should keep in mind that these cells are not an ideal representation of human cells.

Did Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Change DNA In Liver Cells?!

Fact #5 : Regular Human Cells Don’t Produce LINE-1 Enzyme

The scientists chose to use these Huh7 cells because like many cancerous cells, they express (produce) the LINE-1 enzyme.

LINE-1 is a reverse transcriptase that converts mRNA into DNA, so it is not surprising that the study would show that mRNA from the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is converted into DNA by the LINE-1 enzyme.

Normal human cells have the LINE-1 gene, but it is not expressed. Regular human cells do not produce the LINE-1 enzyme, which is why they cannot use regular human cells in this study.

This is also why it is inappropriate to use the Huh7 cell culture to evaluate how mRNA vaccines would work or behave in humans.

Fact #6 : Transcribed DNA Did Not Enter Nucleus

The study only looked at whether mRNA from the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can be transcribed into DNA by the LINE-1 enzyme.

As the study showed – yes, it can… because that’s what the LINE-1 enzyme does. But the study does not show that the transcribed DNA entered the cell nucleus and altered human DNA.

While that is plausible, it would require another enzyme called integrase, that viruses produce, to move that DNA into the cell nucleus itself.

Without the integrase enzyme, the DNA transcribed by the LINE-1 enzyme will only float outside, and will never integrate with the DNA inside the cell nucleus.

Did Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Change DNA In Liver Cells?!
Cell nucleus, credit : Khan Academy

Fact #7 : mRNA Vaccines Do Not Modify Our Genes

An mRNA vaccine only contains a limited number of lipid nanoparticles containing those delicate mRNA instructions. So only a limited number of cells are involved in the vaccination process.

Even if it is somehow possible for the mRNA instructions from the vaccine to enter the cell nucleus and integrate with the DNA inside, it will only affect those cells.

Our cells die and are replaced by new cells all the time, so even if hypothetically the vaccine “infects” and modifies the DNA of a few hundred thousand cells, those cells will eventually die and be replaced by new cells without the modified DNA.

It is simply not possible for mRNA vaccines to modify our genes.

Fact #8 : Viruses Integrate With Cell DNA

Viruses like SARS-CoV-2 and HIV-1 (diagram below) integrate their genes with the host cell DNA, to hijack the cell and use it to produce copies of itself.

You can see how a typical RNA virus would infect a host cell, convert its RNA into DNA which is moved into the cell nucleus using the integrase enzyme.

Did Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Change DNA In Liver Cells?!
HIV-1 virus cell infection, credit : Günther Witzany

Once inside, the viral DNA integrates with the host cell DNA, which then gets transcribed into instructions for the cell to produce copies of the virus.

This is the same way how the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects our cells, to produce copies of itself to infect even more cells.

If you are truly worried about anything modifying your cell’s DNA, you should try to avoid viral infections like COVID-19. Better still – vaccinate yourself, and get protected against COVID-19!

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.


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