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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Montemayor’s claim that COVID-19 vaccines expose people to infection is BASELESS

Presidential candidate Jose “Joey” Montemayor’s claim that the COVID-19 vaccine has a “reverse” effect and exposes people to infection has no basis.

Montemayor, running under the Democratic Party of the Philippines, previously made inaccurate claims about the country’s vaccination data and questioned the need for boosters.

(See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Presidential aspirant Joey Montemayor understates COVID-19 vaccination numbers, omits context on need for boosters)

STATEMENT

During the first presidential debate hosted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on March 19, one of the questions asked of candidates was how they would create enough jobs in the country, especially for new college graduates.

Montemayor said even if the situation for workers improves, their motivation and morale are low:

“…Palaging hina-harass n’yo ang 70 million na Filipino; palagi n’yong hinahanapan niyan [ng vaccination card] when, in fact, ang mismong vaccination will expose you to infection. This is the reverse now, according to the Baltimore study.”

(The [government] keeps harassing the 70 million Filipinos, always looking for a [vaccination card] when, in fact, vaccination itself will expose you to infection. This is the reverse now, according to the Baltimore study.)

Source: Commission on Elections, Pilipinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point, March 19, 2022, watch from 1:27:53 – 1:28:10

On his website, Montemayor describes himself as a cardiologist, a medical technologist, an economist, and a lawyer.

FACT

Vaccination against COVID-19 does not expose people to infection. This oft-repeated false claim amid the pandemic has been debunked by health experts worldwide. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK YEARENDER: Bakulaw, Bakulam, Bakuna: The forms that COVID-19 vaccine disinformation took in 2021)

Montemayor cited a particular “Baltimore study” that supposedly indicates a “reverse” effect of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In an email to VERA Files Fact Check, a team of scientists and public health experts, convened by global technology nonprofit Meedan, noted that studies out of Baltimore “usually refer to Johns Hopkins University.” The prestigious academic institution is based in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States.

Johns Hopkins “has produced no studies that claim COVID-19 vaccines cause infections,” the Meedan team said. It added that there are “no reputable studies that state this claim that have been published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.”

Two websites related to Johns Hopkins University posted multiple articles highlighting that “the vaccine for COVID-19 cannot and will not give you COVID-19.”

As of March 22, the World Health Organization had listed 151 COVID-19 vaccines under clinical development that use different platforms, such as protein subunit, inactivated virus, viral vector, and messenger RNA. Nine vaccine brands have received emergency use authorization to date.

Several health authorities have said that none of the current vaccines being developed and rolled out contain the COVID-19 virus in a form that can cause an infection.

Getting the jab, in fact, protects against infection and prevents severe disease and hospitalization. Although the COVID-19 vaccines are not 100% effective, health experts emphasize that immunity from vaccination is more robust than natural infection.

(See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: PAO chief Acosta wrongly claims vaccinated individuals ‘don’t have immunity’ vs COVID-19 and VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Why fully vaccinated people still get infected with COVID-19)

The Department of Health recorded 65.17 million fully-vaccinated Filipinos as of March 20. The agency reminds the public to maintain physical distancing, wear face masks, and avoid crowded settings.


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Sources

Commission on Elections, Pilipinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point, March 19, 2022

Meedan Health Desk, Personal Communication, March 21, 2022

Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, Vaccines FAQ

Johns Hopkins Medicine, Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?

Johns Hopkins Medicine, COVID-19 Vaccines: Infographic

Johns Hopkins Medicine, COVID-19 Vaccines: Myth Versus Fact, March 10, 2022

World Health Organization, COVID-19 vaccine tracker and landscape, March 22, 2022

World Health Organization, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccines, March 16, 2022

Food and Drug Administration, List of FDA issued Emergency Use Authorization

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines

Department of Health, FAQs on Protection from COVID-19 After Vaccination: How to Protect Yourself and Your Family

U.S. Maryland Department of Health, Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccine

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines, March 21, 2022

World Health Organization, COVID-19 Vaccines Advice, Jan. 21, 2022

Meedan Health Desk, Are COVID-19 vaccines causing new COVID-19 variants?, Feb. 11, 2022

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)