Talk about trying to make a claim stick.
Some people are now asserting on social media that magnets will stick to your arm after you’ve gotten the Covid-19 vaccine injected into that arm. It has nothing to do with you yourself being so attractive though. Instead, the claim is that Covid-19 vaccination injects metal into your arm, apparently enough metal to make magnets stick to your arm.
This has included photos and videos posted on social media. For example, a video posted on Instagram and Twitter showed a woman saying, “Here’s the magnet. This is the arm I got the Pfizer shot in,” while placing what looked like a magnet on her left arm, according to Angelo Fichera writing for the website FactCheck.org. She then said, “You go figure it out. We’re chipped. We’re all bleeped,” except she didn’t say “bleeped” but rather a word that began with “f” and wasn’t “fondued.”
And by “chipped” she presumably didn’t mean potato chipped, banana chipped, poker chipped, cow chipped, or Chip Kelly-d. Instead, in this case, “chipped” probably referred to a metallic microchip, the kind that supposedly can be used to track you. Yes, this whole magnet-sticking-to-arm thing seems to be an extension of the old “tracking microchip in the Covid-19 vaccine” conspiracy theories that have been circulating for a while now.
Another example was a TikTok video showing a Yoda magnet sticking on a person’s arm. Or rather, on a person’s arm a Yoda magnet sticking, as shown on a screen capture by the website FactCheck.org. In fact, the term “Covid Vaccine Magnet Challenge” has even emerged on social media.
Then there have been tweets like the following:
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Before you begin believing that the Covid-19 vaccine will somehow make your arm more susceptible to a Magneto attack, keep in mind several things. First of all, the Covid-19 vaccines would have to have a fair amount of metal in them to make magnets stick to you like they would to a refrigerator door. A Covid-19 vaccine dose is less than a milliliter (mL), with a typical dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being only about 0.3 mL. That’s not enough volume to squeeze in a typical microchip. Even if the entire injected volume were filled with a ferromagnetic metal, it probably wouldn’t be nearly enough to make your arm into a refrigerator door.
Secondly, take a look at the ingredient lists for the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has posted on its website. The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine ingredient list includes mRNA, lipids, potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose. The Moderna vaccine ingredient list is similar with mRNA, lipids, tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate trihydrate, and sucrose. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine ingredient list is a little different with recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein instead of the mRNA, but the rest isn’t terribly different: citric acid monohydrate, trisodium citrate dihydrate, ethanol, 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD), polysorbate-80, and sodium chloride.
So besides the mRNA in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines and the adenovirus in the Johnson & Johnson, the vaccines contain mainly lipids, proteins, salts, and sugars. Lipids, proteins, salts, and sugars are the types of substances you can find in many foods and supplements. And they aren’t ferromagnetic metals. Otherwise, you’d hear people saying, “I’m trying to eat my meal but these darn magnets keep sticking to them.”
Third of all, as I’ve already explained for Forbes, there is no real evidence behind these “microchip in vaccine” conspiracy theories. Ironically, a lot of these claims have been posted on social media sites like Facebook, which you know are actually tracking you. Showing random videos of “every day people” trying to stick magnets on their arms doesn’t offer much proof. You have no idea what these folks may be using to make the magnets stick, whether it’s some type of glue, tape, sweat, honey, or cherry cobbler. These days, it’s become quite easy to alter photos and videos as well. So, if you are going to make a microchip claim, you’ve got to cobble together a lot more real evidence.
Ultimately, getting the Covid-19 vaccine may make you more attractive but not in a magnet sort of way. The vaccine can offer very good protection against severe Covid-19, which may help you feel a bit more relaxed and give you a little more swag back. Fully vaccinated people may be much less likely to carry the virus and therefore much less likely to infect others. And while an infectious smile may be attractive, the same doesn’t quite hold for infectious respiratory droplets.