Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, MD, PhD, recently issued a statement that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines should not be used. In this video interview, Paul Offit, MD, of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, discusses Ladapo’s statement and how the vaccines are made.
The following is a transcript of his remarks:
On January 3 of 2024, the surgeon general of Florida, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, put out a warning that physicians and healthcare providers in this state, Florida, should not use mRNA vaccines. The reason is that supposedly they were contaminated with DNA fragments that would then insert themselves into human DNA and could cause cancers like leukemia or lymphoma or autoimmune diseases or other problems.
So is that possible? Is it possible that Dr. Ladapo is correct and that for that reason we should avoid mRNA-containing vaccines? In order to understand the answer to that question, you need to understand how mRNA vaccines are made. So, we’ll start at the beginning.
What you start with when you make an mRNA vaccine is a small circular plasmid of DNA, double-stranded DNA, into which is inserted the gene that codes for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. You then amplify that plasmid in bacteria — you cut the bacteria, you’ve released the plasmid, then you cut out that small piece of DNA. Then you use an enzyme, RNA polymerase, to transform that DNA into messenger RNA. There are a variety of purification steps, there are filtration steps, there’s treatment with DNA ACE1, which is an enzyme that cuts DNA.
So is it possible that despite purification and filtration that you are left with small amounts of fragmented DNA? Yes, you are. You have roughly a billionth of a gram, nanograms, of this fragmented DNA.
So could that DNA then affect your DNA? In order for that to happen, three things would have to occur, all of which are for the most part impossible.
The first is that the DNA would have to enter your cytoplasm. Now, our cytoplasm hates foreign DNA and it has a variety of mechanisms, including innate immunological mechanisms and enzymes, to destroy foreign DNA.
Then that DNA, which would never survive the cytoplasm, would have to then cross the nuclear membrane into the nucleus, which would require a nuclear access signal that these DNA fragments don’t have.
Even if they entered the nucleus, which they can’t, they would have to insert themselves into your DNA, which means they would have to cut your DNA, which would require enzymes like integrases, which they also don’t have.
So the chance that DNA could affect your DNA is zero.
It’s interesting that the minute you bring up the notion of foreign DNA, people get scared, right? Because DNA is the blueprint of life, and we certainly don’t want to affect our blueprints for life. But you’re exposed to foreign DNA all the time.
One, you have trillions of bacteria living on your body, which is foreign DNA too. Assuming you live on this planet and you eat animals or plants on this planet, you are ingesting foreign DNA, some of which enters your circulation — which has been proven.
Also, all vaccines that are made in cells, whether it’s the measles vaccine, the mumps vaccine, the German measles rubella vaccine, the varicella vaccine, the rotavirus vaccines, yellow fever vaccines — any viral vaccine that’s made in cells will have residual quantities of DNA in the picogram (which is trillions of a gram) to nanogram (which is billions of a gram) category. There is no avoiding that.
I think that we should be reassured that when you fragment this DNA and you have it in quantities that are just trace quantities, knowing what you know about the inability of these trace fragmented DNAs to be able to enter your nucleus and cause harm, it is hard to believe that Dr. Ladapo actually issued that statement.
Ironically, he said that you should use other COVID vaccines. The other COVID vaccine that’s licensed for people over 12 in this country is Novavax’s vaccine. Novavax’s vaccine is also made in cells. It’s a so-called baculovirus expression vector. The baculovirus has inserted into it the gene that codes for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It is then infected into cells, the cells were so-called Spodoptera frugiperda cells or Sf9 cells, so you’d also have residual DNA there as well. There’s just no avoiding it.
The point is to have it at such little and in fragmented levels that it can’t possibly do harm. So scaring people unnecessarily like this has been hard to watch. Hopefully, this has been reassuring.