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• The claim was originally made by a German conspiracy theorist who has repeatedly shared false information about COVID-19.
• The FDA told PolitiFact that those claims are false and Pfizer told PolitiFact that it does not ship COVID-19 vaccines with varying ingredients or potency.
Now, they are said to be ever-changing.
"Growing mountains of evidence show that PHARMA (Pfizer, Moderna, J&J) are shipping lots of jabs with varying ingredients, potency & EVEN placebo lots," says a post shared recently on Facebook.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
It links to a video featuring German conspiracy theorist Reiner Fuellmich, who has repeatedly spread misinformation during the pandemic.
He has previously claimed that COVID-19 is less dangerous than the common flu, that the pandemic was schemed by global elites to control people, that PCR tests are fabricated evidence to justify coercive measures, and that residents of a nursing home in Germany died because of the vaccine, not the virus.
His claims about ingredients, potency, and placebos are as baseless as his previous allegations, according to the Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency that regulates vaccines in the United States.
"These claims are false," the FDA told PolitiFact. "We are confident in the safety, effectiveness and manufacturing data behind each COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization."
The FDA demands that vaccines go through quality-control tests that evaluate "critical vaccine qualities" like purity and potency to determine their safety and effectiveness. It also checks any changes made to the formula or dosage of vaccines.
Pfizer did modify the composition of its vaccine recently, adding an ingredient that allows the product to be stored for longer. But the core ingredients of the shot have remained the same, and the new one is not dangerous and is commonly used in vaccines, according to a fact-check of a similar claim by USA Today.
The change was checked and approved by the FDA, which said in a press release that the new formula "does not present safety or effectiveness concerns."
A spokesperson for Pfizer told PolitiFact that it does not ship vaccines with varying ingredients or potency and that "the approved vaccine is the only one shipped." The company also said that placebo injections are only sent to health facilities that are doing trials. "Otherwise, no placebos are shipped to recipients."
Moderna did not answer a request for comment, and Johnson & Johnson did not answer specific questions about ingredients, potency, and placebos, but there is no credible evidence to support the idea that they are shipping varying batches of vaccines.
Health professionals have previously given saline injections instead of the proper COVID-19 vaccine to patients in Canada, Scotland, Germany, and Australia, but those accidents were the result of mix-ups by health professionals.
A Facebook post claims that vaccine manufacturers are shipping COVID-19 shots with different formulas and strengths, and that some lots are coming with placebos.
The FDA said that the claims are wrong, and Pfizer said that it does not change the composition or strength of its vaccines between lots, and that it does not ship placebo injections widely. The claim was originally made by a conspiracy theorist who has repeatedly spread falsehoods during the pandemic.
We rate the post False.
PolitiFact, "COVID-19 vaccines do not contain graphene, are not experimental and have published ingredients," Jan. 24, 2022
ABC Fact Check, "No, the ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine are not 'illegal' in Australia for kids under 16," Dec. 9, 2021
PolitiFact, "No, the new coronavirus vaccines are not more dangerous than COVID-19," Dec. 18, 2020
PolitiFact, "No, WHO has not said COVID-19 no worse than the flu," Jan. 19, 2022
Health Feedback, "PCR tests are reliable to detect and monitor COVID-19 infections, which are real and have caused millions of deaths worldwide," June 19, 2021
AFP, "Coronavirus was not staged by philanthropists to control people," June 17, 2021
Health Feedback, "Six residents in a German nursing home died from COVID-19, not from vaccines," Mar. 6, 2021
USA Today, "New ingredient in Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine mischaracterized in online posts," Nov. 29, 2021
Food and Drug Administration, "FDA authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in children 5 through 11 years of age," Oct. 29, 2021
Deutsche Welle, "Saline instead of COVID vaccine: German nurse speaks out about scandal," Aug. 12, 2021
CTV News, "Six people injected with saline instead of COVID-19 vaccine at Ontario clinic in June," July 6, 2021
The Herald, "Eleven residents at Coatbridge care home injected with saline instead of Covid vaccine," Nov. 21, 2021
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