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Debunk: Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines did not skip animal trials

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By Hebe Campbell
Medical worker prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine in Belgrade, Serbia
Medical worker prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine in Belgrade, Serbia   -   Copyright  Darko Vojinovic/AP
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As the Coronavirus vaccine rollout picks up pace in many parts of Europe, misinformation about the vaccines continue to spread on social media, some of which are discouraging people to take the jab.

The Cube, Euronews' social media news-desk, noticed a spike of false claims on social media, incorrectly suggesting that the animal trial phase was skipped completely when testing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

AP Photo
People pushing false claims that the mRNA vaccines skipped animal trialsAP Photo

"I am a pharmacist. No new drug gets released without extensive animal testing first. The fact that this vaccine has, makes us the lab rats." A person claiming to be a health professional said.

"They should do the tests on animals as they used to. Except. I suppose, previous mRNA vaccine trials always killed the animals." Another person falsely claimed.

All the vaccines rolled out within the EU, including Pfizer and Moderna were tested on animals.

"They most certainly did test on animals." Dr Isaac Bogoch from the University Health Network told The Cube.

"The companies were very public about their results on animal testing prior to moving into clinical trials. The first part is called the pre-clinical trials, and those are the studies done in the laboratory setting and done on non-human animals. If it looks like it's safe, and if these are working in non-human animals, then you move over into clinical studies." Bogoch said.

Misinformation claiming that this part of the trial was skipped, and framing people taking the vaccines as "lab rats" could well discourage people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

"It is a major public health threat," Bogoch told Euronews. "It feeds dissent, it feeds misinformation, it facilitates people making incorrect or sometimes dangerous decisions for themselves or their families."

As Europe battles its third wave of Coronavirus, medical bodies such as the European Medicines Agency urge people to get the COVID-19 vaccine and continue to repeat that the "benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks."