Madison Czopek, PolitiFact.com
| Austin American-Statesman
How are monkeypox cases, COVID-19 vaccines and shingles infections connected? They are not.
But if you believe claims circulating online, they are linked to a group of global elites that is using the coronavirus “as a tool to reorganize global societies and economies to their benefit at the expense of ordinary people, with the ultimate goal of a global totalitarian regime,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
One article pushing the narrative that monkeypox is tied to this conspiracy theory appeared on The Exposé, a U.K.-focused blog that has repeatedly spread misinformation about the pandemic and COVID-19 vaccine.
“‘Monkeypox’ is only circulating in countries where the Pfizer vaccine has been distributed and is being used to advance a Technocratic Great Reset,” read a July 24 Exposé headline.
The article claimed that the monkeypox outbreak is actually shingles cases caused by Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’re seeing the consequences of injecting millions of people with an experimental mRNA injection that causes untold damage to the immune system,” the article said. “And public health authorities are now scrambling to cover up COVID-19 vaccine-induced shingles and using it as an opportunity to advance their technocratic agenda of implementing ‘The Great Reset.’”
The article was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.
Available evidence directly rebuts the article’s claims.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective
Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, marketed as Comirnaty, in August 2021 became the first COVID-19 vaccine to achieve full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Millions of people have received the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, which is a safe and effective way to prevent COVID-19.
In the seven days after vaccination, it is common to experience mild side effects including fever, chills, fatigue or headaches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More severe side effects — including severe allergic reactions or myocarditis and pericarditis (especially for males ages 12 to 39) — are rare but can happen.
Some countries reporting monkeypox cases aren’t using the Pfizer vaccine
Pfizer told PolitiFact it had agreements to provide its vaccine to more than 140 countries.
As of July 28, cases of monkeypox have been reported in 77 countries, including 71 countries that have not historically reported monkeypox, the CDC reported.
Comparing these maps shows that the article’s claim that monkeypox is “only circulating” where the Pfizer vaccine was distributed is false.
Venezuela reported one case of monkeypox as of July 28, but Pfizer’s map does not show any shipments of COVID-19 vaccines. Venezuela has approved the use of Russian COVID-19 vaccines Sputnik V and Sputnik Light, Cuba’s Abdala and Soberana COVID-19 vaccines and the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines from China, according to the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela.
India reported four cases of monkeypox as of July 28. Pfizer has not sent COVID-19 vaccines to India, according to its map last updated July 3.
India is currently distributing four vaccines, per the BBC: the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Corbevax, Covaxin and Sputnik V.
Also, not all the countries that received Pfizer vaccines have reported monkeypox cases. As of July 28, for example, Indonesia has not reported any monkeypox cases, but Pfizer has shipped nearly 69 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine there.
Monkeypox and shingles differ in many ways
The CDC tracks adverse events reported after COVID-19 vaccinations, and has not indicated that the vaccines cause shingles.
Nearly 10,000 cases of shingles have been reported to the CDC and FDA’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System after doses of the Pfizer vaccine. This does not mean the vaccines caused shingles.
VAERS is an open system, meaning anyone can submit a report to the database, “regardless of seriousness, and regardless of how likely the vaccine may have been to have caused the adverse event,” per the CDC. On one occasion, a doctor said he’d submitted a report that a flu vaccine had turned him into the Hulk; that report was accepted and remained in the database for some time, he said.
Pfizer said it has not seen data that suggests its COVID-19 vaccine causes shingles.
Monkeypox and shingles cause skin rashes, but they look different on the body.
Shingles causes a painful rash that typically “occurs in a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body” or on one side of the face, according to the CDC. In contrast, monkeypox causes “a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.”
The diseases are also caused by different viruses: Monkeypox is caused by an orthopoxvirus; shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus that also causes chickenpox.
A blog post claimed that monkeypox “is only circulating in countries where the Pfizer vaccine has been distributed and is being used to advance a Technocratic Great Reset.”
“The Great Reset” is an unsubstantiated and widely debunked conspiracy theory. Monkeypox has been reported in countries that don’t have Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. And there are countries that received Pfizer’s vaccine that have not yet reported monkeypox cases.
We rate this claim False.
- The Exposé, “‘Monkeypox’ is only circulating in countries where the Pfizer Vaccine has been distributed & is being used to advance a Technocratic Great Reset,” July 24, 2022
- World Health Organization, “Monkeypox,” May 19, 2022
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, “Epidemiological update: Monkeypox multi-country outbreak,” June 15, 2022
- Anti-Defamation League, “‘The Great Reset’ conspiracy flourishes amid continued pandemic,” Dec. 29, 2020
- The Intercept, “The Great Reset conspiracy smoothie,” Dec. 8, 2020
- PolitiFact, “No evidence that ‘leaked’ email from a Canadian politician is authentic,” April 29, 2021
- BBC, “The coronavirus pandemic ‘Great Reset’ theory and a false vaccine claim debunked,” Nov. 22, 2020
- USA Today, “Fact check: False claim that World Economic Forum chairman said internet must be reformed,” March 31, 2022
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- PolitiFact, “Shingles-monkeypox claim misleads with false flu-COVID-19 theory,” May 26, 2022
- Newswise, “Monkeypox is not shingles and there is no evidence that the Monkeypox outbreak has anything to do with the COVID-19 vaccines,” June 3, 2022
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- PolitiFact, “CDC accepts all manner of reported vaccination effects–even symptoms of the Hulk,” May 11, 2017
- PolitiFact, “Federal VAERS database is a critical tool for researchers, but a breeding ground for misinformation,” May 3, 2021
- World Health Organization, “Multi-country outbreak of monkeypox,” July 25, 2022