FULL CLAIM: “this ‘vaccine’ destroys the subject’s natural immune system […] essentially forcing citizens to give themselves AIDS”; HIV variant found in the Netherlands is a “cover up” for weakened immunity caused by the COVID-19 vaccines
In February 2022, there was a proliferation of social media posts claiming that the COVID-19 vaccines destroy the immune system (see here, here, and here). On occasion, these posts are accompanied by additional claims stating that the recently discovered HIV variant VB is related to COVID-19 vaccination (see here and here). In a 5 February 2022 episode of his show, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones made similar claims, saying the VB variant was a cover up for weakened immunity caused by the COVID-19 vaccines. As we’ll show below, both of these claims are false.
Claim 1 (Incorrect):
The COVID-19 vaccines are “destroying peoples[sic] immune systems”; “people are being given an AIDS-like disease with the vaccine”
A number of posts on social media inaccurately claimed that the COVID-19 vaccines are “destroying” people’s immune systems, giving them an “AIDS-like disease”. Some individuals called this illness “VAIDS” for vaccine acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (see here).
As Health Feedback explained in previous claims (see here, here and here), there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines weaken or destroy the immune system. On the contrary, the COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization, including against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant. This is evidenced by the higher rates of COVID-19 hospitalization and death among the unvaccinated (see here and here).
Moreover, as the Associated Press (AP) explained in a fact-check, “VAIDS” is not a real condition. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a syndrome that develops when HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) weakens the immune system, primarily by targeting and killing white blood cells, making individuals more susceptible to infections and diseases. “There is no vaccine-induced counterpart of AIDS,” Grant McFadden, director of the Biodesign Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy at Arizona State University, told AP.
Claim 2 (Inaccurate):
The HIV VB variant is a “cover up” to explain weakened immunity
In a 5 February 2022 episode of his show, Alex Jones showed an article headlined “New HIV strain found in the Netherlands: Highly infectious variant makes people sick twice as quickly,” which is about the virulent subtype B (“VB”) variant of HIV discovered in the Netherlands. Jones called this new HIV strain a “cover up” to explain cases of decreased immunity caused by both COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines. Jones wasn’t the only one to make this claim; additional examples from social media can be seen here andhere.
This is false. As Health Feedback explained in a claim review about the VB variant, though this highly virulent variant was identified in a study published on 3 February 2022, researchers estimated that it first appeared around 1998. This means that the VB variant emerged over twenty years before both COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.
Jones also claimed that this new HIV variant is airborne (“you catch it like a cold”) and “will kill you,” and that there’s “record HIV” in places like Houston, New York, Detroit, Miami, London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Durbin, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro.
This is false. HIV is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, breast milk and vaginal secretions; the VB variant is not, as Jones claimed, airborne. As Health Feedback also explained in the previously mentioned claim review, while individuals infected with the VB variant developed a higher HIV viral load and quicker immune system damage, currently available HIV treatment remained effective against the variant; as long as individuals have access to treatment, VB should not kill you. Moreover, globally, the rates of new HIV cases are decreasing. In 2020, an estimated 1.5 million people were newly infected with HIV worldwide; this is a 31% decline in new HIV infections compared to 2010.
On social media, some posts have claimed that the UK’s National HIV Testing Week, which started 7 February 2022 and encouraged people to get tested for HIV, is related to the COVID-19 vaccines (see here and here). However, National HIV Testing Week is an annual event that promotes regular HIV testing and was launched in 2011, years before COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination.
There’s no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines weaken or destroy the immune system. VAIDS is not a real condition, and there’s no connection between the VB variant of HIV and the COVID-19 vaccines.