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No, people vaccinated against Covid-19 don’t develop Aids – claim peddled by known false-information website

IN SHORT: In early 2023 a familiar anti-vaxx rumour started spreading on social media again, claiming that people vaccinated against Covid-19 were developing “Aids-like symptoms”. But there’s – still – no evidence for this.

“German Gov’t Bombshell: ‘Alarming Number of Vaccinated Are Developing AIDS’”, reads the headline of a news article in a screenshot posted on social media in February 2023. 

The screenshot shows the headline complete with a “Fact-Checked” stamp below it and an opening paragraph that reads: “The German government has admitted that an ‘alarming number’ of vaccinated people are developing ‘AIDS-like symptoms’”. 

Some of the social media posts link to an article directly, here and here, with one Twitter post receiving 113,000 likes. The same claim was also made on social media before the article was published, in late 2021.

But was this “bombshell” in fact announced by the German government, and when? We investigated.


Claim from site known to spread disinformation

A Google Lens search reveals the screenshot is of an article published by News Punch, previously YourNewsWire. This is a website known to spread false information, under the tagline “Where mainstream fears to tread”. 

The News Punch article pointed to a weekly update of Covid-19 cases in Germany published by its public health organisation, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), in December 2021. The RKI report included weekly data about the number of cases linked to the Omicron variant of Covid-19, and vaccination statuses among those infected. 

News Punch claimed the report showed that among these cases, “most of the individuals who had been fully vaccinated [against Covid-19] would develop full-blown vaccine-induced acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [Aids] by the end of the month”, and that “ the immune systems of the fully vaccinated had already degraded to an average of minus 87%”.

But there is no mention in the RKI report of either of this. 

The RKI report initially said that there were 6,788 Omicron cases and just 186 of those were among vaccinated people. But it later corrected this, saying that the number for vaccinated people was actually 1,907 cases. (Learn more about why there may be more deaths among vaccinated people here.)

Health experts from Meedan, an organisation that tracks false health information, told news outlet AFP that “there is no evidence from Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials or controlled follow-up data that links WHO-approved Covid-19 vaccines with increased risk of HIV/Aids”, calling this a “fake condition”. 

‘Vaccine-induced acquired immunodeficiency syndrome’ is made-up

Medical experts have repeatedly confirmed that there is no such condition as Aids acquired through Covid-19 vaccination.

HIV stands for the human immunodeficiency virus, and Aids – acquired human immunodeficiency syndrome – is the life-threatening disease caused by the virus. HIV infection can be managed with antiretroviral therapy – drugs known as ARVs – and prevent it developing into Aids. 

The experts said to AFP that there was no way HIV/Aids could be transmitted through a Covid-19 vaccine needle, as a new needle was used for each injection. 

This false link between Covid-19 and HIV/Aids may have originated after an Australian university developed a Covid-19 vaccine that was found to interfere with HIV tests. But the results had been false positives, with testing showing that no HIV had been present in the Covid-19 vaccine. Despite this, the vaccine was discontinued, over concerns that it would cause confusion or lack of confidence in the vaccine among the public.  

There is no truth to the claims, circulating on social media since 2021, that people who have received the Covid-19 vaccine develop Aids or Aids-like symptoms.

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