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Contrary to Claims, COVID Vaccines Do Not Contain ‘Monkey Virus DNA’

by Chloe Baker
8 comments
Monkey Virus DNA in COVID-19 Vaccines

ASSERTION: COVID-19 vaccines include a carcinogenic virus DNA derived from monkeys.

ASSESSMENT BY AP: Incorrect. Leading researchers and public health officials refute the claim of monkey virus DNA in the approved vaccinations. Certain COVID-19 vaccines incorporate DNA molecules from the Simian Virus 40, but these molecules differ from the actual virus and aren’t carcinogenic.

THE DETAILS: Some social media users are alleging that a harmful constituent, namely, “monkey virus” DNA that can cause cancer, is present in COVID-19 vaccines.

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“COVID injections contain confirmed Green Monkey DNA,” claims a widely shared tweet.

An article headlined “Monkey Virus DNA Detected in COVID-19 Vaccines” echoes the same claim.

Another headline circulating on Instagram reads, “Identified: Carcinogenic Simian Virus 40 (SV40) in Pfizer Vials.”

However, neither public health officials nor the principal investigator of a recently quoted study provide any evidence to substantiate the claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain monkey DNA or the SV40 virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, through their official websites, debunk long-standing myths and misconceptions about vaccine ingredients.

Alessandro Faia, European Medicines Agency spokesperson, commented via email, “There is no evidence pointing to the presence of SV40, a monkey kidney virus that can potentially induce cancer in humans, in the formulation of COVID-19 vaccines.”

Pfizer also stated via email that their COVID-19 vaccine did not utilize monkey DNA.

The pharmaceutical firm clarified, “Our vaccine is entirely synthetic. While we did conduct preclinical animal challenge studies involving rhesus macaques, at no stage did we use green monkeys. The allegation that the vaccine incorporates monkey DNA is incorrect.”

Kevin McKernan, a co-author of the study frequently mentioned in the posts, dismissed the assertions as “scaremongering” and “clickbait.”

According to him, the researchers of the unpublished study discovered an “SV40 promoter” in the Pfizer vaccine, which isn’t equivalent to identifying the full SV40 virus in the vaccine. McKernan, an ex-research director at MIT’s Human Genome Project and now running Medicinal Genomics, emphasized that promoters, derived from the SV40 virus, are DNA sequences that aid in gene expression and are widely used in molecular biology.

“The vaccine will not cause cancer. There’s no carcinogenic gene in the vaccine,” says Phillip Buckhaults, director of the Cancer Genetics Lab at the University of South Carolina.

These fallacious claims exploit longstanding fears about SV40’s potential link to cancer, explains Michael Imperiale, a molecular biologist at the University of Michigan Medical School. From 1955 to 1963, up to 30% of administered polio vaccines in the U.S. were discovered to have been contaminated with SV40, derived from monkey kidney cell cultures used for vaccine production. However, subsequent studies failed to establish a “causal relationship” between SV40-contaminated polio vaccines and cancer.

Furthermore, Imperiale emphasized that the SV40 promoter, in itself, can’t cause cancer as the vaccine doesn’t contain the potentially carcinogenic part of SV40, known as the T-antigen.


As part of its initiative to counter widespread misinformation, AP collaborates with external companies and organizations to provide factual context to misleading content circulating online. Learn more about AP’s fact-checking process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Monkey Virus DNA in COVID-19 Vaccines

Does the COVID-19 vaccine contain ‘monkey virus DNA’?

No, the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain ‘monkey virus DNA.’ This is a misinformation that has been debunked by public health officials and leading researchers.

Is there a link between the COVID-19 vaccine and cancer due to the presence of Simian Virus 40 (SV40)?

No, there is no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine could cause cancer due to the presence of Simian Virus 40 (SV40). The vaccine uses an ‘SV40 promoter,’ a DNA sequence derived from SV40, but this is not the same as the virus itself and is not carcinogenic.

Did pharmaceutical company Pfizer use monkey DNA in creating its COVID-19 vaccine?

No, Pfizer has confirmed that no monkey DNA was used in creating its version of the COVID-19 vaccine. The company stated that the vaccine is completely synthetic.

Was there an incident of SV40 contamination in polio vaccines in the past?

Yes, from 1955 to 1963, up to 30% of polio vaccines administered in the U.S. were found to have been contaminated with SV40. However, subsequent studies found no causal association between the SV40-contaminated polio vaccines and cancer development.

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8 comments

FactCheckFred June 28, 2023 - 8:07 am

great article! It’s important to separate fact from fiction especially in times like this. Keep up the good work AP.

Reply
JakeStevens June 28, 2023 - 9:38 am

finally some sense! tired of all these crazy claims going round, its about time we focused on the science and not rumors.

Reply
SaraLuv19 June 28, 2023 - 11:38 am

can’t believe ppl actually buy into this monkey dna nonsense, we need better education about vaccines…

Reply
HealthyMomma June 29, 2023 - 2:41 am

We trust the companies like Pfizer to keep us safe. Please do ur research before posting scary stuff guys.

Reply
TechieTom June 29, 2023 - 2:54 am

interesting about the sv40 promoter…never knew that’s how vaccines worked. The more you know, huh?

Reply
JohnnyQPublic June 29, 2023 - 4:07 am

wait, so does the vax use the monkey virus or not? im confused…

Reply
ScienceSally June 29, 2023 - 4:35 am

Excellent breakdown of the facts. The fearmongering around vaccines has gotten out of hand.

Reply
EduardoL June 29, 2023 - 6:27 am

Lets just get vaccinated people! enough with the conspiracy theories, we’ve got a world to save!

Reply

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