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As claims of COVID-19 vaccine makers skipping animal trials resurfaced and started trending again on social media, political commentator Kim Iversen “fact-checked the fact-checkers” in her latest episode of “The Kim Iversen Show.”
“Oftentimes these fact checks that come out by organizations like Reuters and AP [The Associated Press] end up not being exactly factual on their own,” Iversen told viewers.
Iversen examined Reuter’s most recent fact check, which sought to quell trending claims that COVID-19 vaccine producers skipped the animal trials because the animals were dying.
“Online over the last few days on social media, it was trending that the vaccine skipped animal trials,” Iversen said. “This is something that trends every so often. It started in 2020, then in 2021 and now it’s trending again.”
“This is why Reuters decides, ‘Well, we better come out with one of our fact-checks,’” she said.
False claims that COVID-19 vaccine producers skipped animal trials due to the animals dying have resurfaced online. Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson conducted these trials and had no significant safety concerns to report https://t.co/MsF9wNctlI pic.twitter.com/9ZgICVCSmv
— Reuters Fact Check (@ReutersFacts) August 3, 2022
“Some posts,” said Reuters, “include video of a hearing by the Texas State Senate and the text: ‘COVID jab: They skipped all animal trials because all animals were dying & went directly to people. Texas State Senate, May 2021.’”
“Hall says that animal trials were skipped due to the animals dying and Ferrella says she agrees,” Iversen said.
However, Reuters’ fact-checkers said they “found no evidence of the three COVID-19 vaccines skipping animal trials due to the animals dying or otherwise.”
Animal trials running concurrently with human trials don’t ‘make anyone feel any better’
Reuters admitted animal trials were not completed prior to initiating human trials “due to time constraints and the urgency to find a vaccine for COVID-19.”
Moderna and Pfizer did receive approval to run animal testing and early trials on humans at the same time, as opposed to fully completing animal trials before moving on to human trials.
An AP fact check from November 2020 cited the same explanation for why the vaccine makers were allowed to run human trials at the same time as animal trials.
According to AP, Pfizer and Moderna were given approval to simultaneously test their vaccines on animals while they were conducting Phase 1 trials on humans “due to the urgent need for a vaccine in a surging pandemic.”
However, an April 2021 fact check by Full Fact said the animal trials were done at the same time as human trials because data already existed that showed the vaccines were safe.
Chris Magee, head of policy and media at the U.K. nonprofit Understanding Animal Research, told Full Fact that in the case of COVID-19 vaccines, “data already existed to indicate the vaccines were safe, which enabled researchers to run animal trials alongside the early stages of human trials.”
“The problem with that is there have been no other mRNA vaccines that have successfully come to market.
“So why did those other vaccines that they were testing with mRNAs not come to market? How could they look at those that didn’t come to market and say, ‘Okay, well, they’re safe’?
“Maybe you tested the actual technology mRNA … but when you mix mRNA technology with a certain virus or another virus, you might get totally different results.”
Iversen said she thinks when some people claim “they skipped animal trials” they’re really saying, “Why would you want to experiment with this on me? Why do you want to give this to me when you didn’t go through the full due process of making sure that this met safety protocols? I’m not comfortable with this.”
The fact that COVID-19 vaccine animal trials were done at the same time as human trials “doesn’t make anybody who has that feeling feel any better,” she said.
‘We now don’t know the long-term side effects in animals’ because animals were euthanized within 7 days
Full Fact’s April 2021 fact check also stated that animal tests were done and the animals — in this case, mice — did die, but the deaths weren’t caused by the vaccine.
The mice died because they were euthanized seven days after being injected with the vaccine, as is “standard procedure in this sort of trial.”
But, Iversen said, this “standard procedure” leaves unanswered questions about the possible long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We now don’t know the long-term side effects in an animal because you euthanized them in seven days,” she said.
Watch the full episode here: