A widely-circulated message attributed to French virologist Luc Montagnier claims that all vaccinated people will die in 2 years due to antibody-dependent enhancement. Dr. Rohini Karandikar, a science writer at the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) and member of the Indian Scientists’ Response to COVID-19 team, lays bare the facts.
By Rohini Karandikar
A WhatsApp message attributed to French virologist Luc Montagnier marked ‘forwarded many times’ reads: “All vaccinated people will die within 2 years: Nobel Prize Winner Luc Montagnier has confirmed that there is no chance of survival for people who have received any form of the vaccine…They will all die from antibody-dependent enhancement. Nothing more can be said.”
The viral message further claims that many epidemiologists know about the threat posed by antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), yet are “silent” about it.
Responding to this claim, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) and Assam Police took to Twitter and Facebook (respectively) to say that WhatsApp forward is fake news. Reports suggest that Luc Montagnier is known for his anti-vaccine stance. Many doctors and scientists took to Twitter to debunk the claims in the viral message and the video being circulated.
Despite being fact-checked, the claim continues to spread far and wide, evoking the fear of death due to ADE. People are asking whether epidemiologists and scientists are trying to keep them in the dark.
The answer is an emphatic ‘No’! SARS-CoV-2 vaccines have been tested for ADE on animal models and none of the tests have shown any evidence of ADE. Only after ensuring the safety of vaccines in animal studies were human trials conducted. ADE was not observed in any of the clinical trials, nor was it reported after the vaccine roll-out.
Another question in the case of SARS-CoV-2 is, “Can the antibodies generated against one variant or after vaccination cause ADE in case of infection with other variants?” The evidence-based answer is ‘No’ again.
Countries that have vaccinated a substantial population show a decline in the number of new COVID-19 infections and deaths. In the present scenario, infections without vaccination are higher in number and more severe than those after vaccinations. Deaths, if any, due to COVID-19 post-vaccination are also considerably low. Thus, in view of all evidence so far, ADE does not appear to be a significant concern.
Update: The image has been updated for clarity of text.