VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Viral video shows 2015 experiment, NOT nanobots in COVID-19 vaccines

In another attempt to forward anti-vaccination sentiment on social media, a video is circulating among Filipino Facebook (FB) users claiming that COVID-19 vaccines carry nanobots that could make a person “half-robotic.” Not true.

The video begins by showing a clip of moving specimens inside a petri dish, while a voiceover of a woman describes it as “what happens inside vials of vaccines.”

The moving particles shown in the video are not nanobots but metal ball bearings, and they have nothing to do with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The clip was lifted from a 2015 video of a petri dish experiment on self-assembling wires conducted by the Stanford Complexity Group of Stanford University in the United States.

The experiment, attributed to the late physicist Alfred Hubler, exhibits how nonlinear networks (represented by the metal balls) could self-organize.

It is completely unrelated to the current pandemic as it took place years before the first cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in Wuhan, China. The experiment also has nothing to do with the development of vaccines against the viral disease, which began only last year.

The Department of Health released a statement disproving the claims presented in the circulating video that jabs against COVID-19 contain nanobots or magnets.

The health authority stressed that COVID-19 vaccines being administered in the country are “safe and effective” and had undergone rigorous examinations.

The spurious video, published on Sept. 12 by a FB user, carried the caption “pakinngan nyo po sa lhat ng nabukunahan nkkatakot kong totoo man to Bahala si Lord satin at buong mundo (To all those who got vaccinated, listen to this. This is scary. If this is true, may the Lord take care of us and of the whole world)in Jesus Name.”

It featured an unidentified woman speaking in Filipino who not only gave false context to the 2015 Stanford experiment, but also echoed other untrue claims related to COVID-19 and vaccination that have been previously debunked by fact checking organizations, including VERA Files Fact Check. These were:

  • That COVID-19 vaccines contain graphene oxide that is allegedly toxic to the body. There is no conclusive evidence supporting this.
  • That COVID-19 vaccines make people magnetic. Not true.
  • That COVID-19 vaccines alter the genetic makeup of a person. This is not possible according to health experts.
  • That COVID-19 vaccines have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in them. This is a widely-debunked conspiracy theory.

The video carrying these false claims has been viewed almost 201,000 times, and received more than 2,600 reactions and 19,000 shares on FB.

It was posted four days after vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government was eyeing to raise its vaccination target from 70% to up to 90% of the population by early 2022, in order for the country to achieve herd immunity faster.

But social media posts that misrepresent the Stanford experiment as being related to the novel coronavirus have circulated as early as July this year, and debunked by Reuters Fact Check.

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)


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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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