Has a new study concluded that Covid-19 vaccines are causing long-term brain damage?
This claim has been gaining many views and shares on social media and local chat groups.First posted by twitter user Pat Webb, the claim is that a “European study” concluded spike proteins from MRNA vaccines are relocating to brain tissue, causing “cell death,” leading to long-term neurological effects such as brain fog. However the long twitter thread neglects providing a link to the research study, nor does it offer further information about the title or authorship beyond labelling it a “new pre-print paper at bioRxiv.”
“Pre-print” means that the paper has not undergone peer-review or publication in a peer-reviewed journal. bioRxiv is a platform which hosts and archives pre-prints submitted by authors. A look at the bioRxiv website shows multiple disclaimers about the lack of peer-review, with different notes on each page about how articles should not “guide health-related behaviour or be reported in the press as conclusive.”We took a look at recent articles and papers posted to bioRxiv in an attempt to identify the paper referenced by this claim. The closest in content is an article from 5th April titled SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Accumulation in the Skull-Meninges-Brain Axis: Potential Implications for Long-Term Neurological Complications in post-COVID-19. The paper was posted over a month ago, undermining the claim’s suggestion that it is “breaking” news. While it does focus on “Long-Term Neurological Complications” as the result of spike proteins, we took a more in-depth look to better understand the study parameters.
On closer reading, the paper actually focuses almost entirely on spike protein produced by Covid-19 infection rather than the vaccine, discussing its findings on those terms rather than suggesting that the Covid-19 vaccine or “MRNA jabs” has specific effects. The sole mention of the word “vaccine” in the entire 26-page paper merely notes that the spike protein being studied is also found in Covid-19 vaccines because of its presence in the Covid-19 virus. Rather than concluding anything new or radical about vaccines, the paper’s short summary presents findings which suggest that “the accumulation of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in the skull-meninges-brain axis presents potential molecular mechanisms and therapeutic targets for neurological complications in long-COVID-19 patients.”
This claim cherry-picks from the paper in order to present its findings within a specific narrative. While the paper’s findings include spike-proteins in Covid-19 vaccines, it is highly misleading to claim that only “vaccinated people” are affected. Further, the pre-print state of the paper makes the claim about “conclusive” findings even less reliable. We therefore give this claim a rating of false.
Research papers can be wordy and sometimes inaccessible. This claim is a clear example of how such papers can be misrepresented and reframed to mislead and prop up a specific agenda.
The twitter user has not responded to requests from other commentors for sources and links. However their thread continues to get views and retweets by those against the vaccine who seem to accept the information as vindication of their existing beliefs. This seemingly intentional omission prevents readers from checking the paper themselves and from encountering the multiple pre-print disclaimers on the bioRxiv page.