A widely circulated text message, attributed to French virologist Luc Montagnier, is being shared to claim that he said all the vaccinated people will “die within two years” and that there is no scope of survival.
It further goes on to state that he said they will “all die from antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE)”. Another version of the viral claim also states that he blamed the vaccines for “creating” the variants.
However, we found that the claims made by Montagnier are unfounded and not backed by science or data. Further, the statement about people dying has been misattributed to him. But in an 11-minute-long interview, originally in French, the former Nobel laureate does talk against the vaccines and asserts that the effect will be known after two to three years.
The claim, which is massively viral on WhatsApp and has also being picked up by several news outlets, goes on to make the following claims:
- “All vaccinated people will die within two years.”
- “The history books will show that, because it is the vaccination that is creating the variants.”
- “Many epidemiologists know it and are “silent” about the problem known as “antibody-dependent enhancement.”
CLAIM 1: ALL VACCINATED PEOPLE WILL DIE WITHIN TWO YEARS
We found the full video interview on a website called ‘Odysee’. We went through the content of the interview but didn’t find any comment where Montagnier talks about “all vaccinated people dying within two years”. It is true that he does make unsubstantiated claims about the vaccine and raises doubts, but he doesn’t say that vaccinated people will die.
However, when the interviewer speaks about the “ill-effects” of the vaccine, Montagnier says it will be known after two to three years.
CLAIM 2: VACCINATION IS CREATING VARIANTS
On being asked about the variants, the former Nobel laureate says that “the variants come from vaccinations. The virus has a very strong ability to change.” He also added that this is an “unacceptable mistake”.
But is that true? Well, the simple answer to the question is NO. The Quint had earlier debunked this claim and shown that there is no known evidence for it.
There is certainly no doubt that viruses ‘mutate’, and these mutations create an updated version of the virus which is called a “variant”. Several variants of the SARS-CoV-2 were found even before the vaccination drive started.
We had earlier spoken to Dr Satyajit Rath, an adjunct faculty of IISER Pune, who told us, “We should keep in mind that these variants will not necessarily be any more 'lethal', since all they will have been ‘selected for’ is avoiding pre-existing immunity just enough so as to establish infection and spread.”
He further added that we become ‘immune’ both by natural infection and vaccination.
We also spoke to Professor Sandhya Koushika in the Department of Biological Sciences at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) who told us that there is no evidence to suggest that vaccines were the cause for the different variants of coronavirus.
“The reason that we have the variants is because a very large number of people are infected and the virus itself can change... The vaccine by itself is not going to cause the variants, the variants arising is a natural process that comes from the virus.”Professor Sandhya Koushika, TIFR
Further, if we take into consideration the variant which was found in the UK, the vaccination started in December but the government had announced that the variant was first discovered in September.
According to news reports and the WHO, the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, which has become the most dominant variant in India, was first found in October 2020, much before the vaccination drive started in India.
Further, microbiologist and often referred to as India’s vaccine “God Mother” Dr Gangandeep Kang also took to Twitter to explain how the statement was “not true”. She wrote that the only way to “decrease variants is to not stop vaccination, but to increase it to stop virus circulation and replication!”
CLAIM 3: EPIDEMIOLOGISTS KNOW ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF 'ANTIBODY-DEPENDENT ENHANCEMENT' AND ARE SILENT
Montagnier also said that the epidemiologists know about the phenomenon of “Antibody-Dependent Enhacement” and are silent.
But what is ADE? Antibody-dependent enhancement refers to the biological phenomenon wherein a pathogen (in this case, a virus) binds itself to an antibody and gains the ability to target cells it previously could not. The antibodies act as a carrier for the pathogen and increases its ability to enter the host cells, worsening the disease.
However, experts have dismissed these claims calling it “pretty much a non-issue” in the case of COVID-19 vaccines, as “scientists sought to target a SARS-CoV-2 protein that was least likely to cause ADE” in the early stages of vaccine development, as per a report by MedPage Today.
A 2020 paper titled ‘COVID-19 Vaccines: Should We Fear ADE?’ published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in 2020 also explored the phenomenon, calling it “unlikely” as coronavirus diseases in humans “lack the clinical, epidemiological, biological, or pathological attributes of ADE disease”.
WHO IS LUC MONTAGNIER?
Luc Montagnier had won the Nobel price in medicine in 2008 for his discovery of HIV. However, he has made several claims in the past for which he has been criticised by the fraternity.
In early 2020, he propagated the oft-repeated conspiracy theory that the coronavirus is man-made. Though there is no evidence for the same, people like top US expert on infectious disease Dr Anthony Fauci has also called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, stating that he is “not convinced” about the origin.
He has also made statements like “flu shots will kill COVID patients”, a claim disputed by the health experts. In the past, Montagnier has also supported anti-vaxxers, claiming that DNA emits “electromagnetic waves” and that DNA molecules can teleport in the past.
Clearly, the claims made by Montagnier are not only unsubstantiated and unfound but he has a past record of making such statements.