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- PCR tests don’t introduce new material into the body, and the analysis of the swab samples doesn’t involve luciferase.
Last fall, false rumors that COVID-19 vaccines contained luciferase spread online. This year, an Instagram post has gained traction claiming the enzyme that interacts with a protein called luciferin to release light is present in COVID-19 tests.
"PCR tests used to put luciferase in the brain/neurons," an Oct. 25 post said. "Zombie apocalypse — how they will do it!!! … Do not take the PCR test!!!"
This 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 Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Dr. Apurv Soni, an assistant professor of medicine at UMass Chan Medical School who has studied PCR tests during the pandemic, told us it’s not true that PCR tests use luciferase. The tests involve using swabs similar to Q-tips to collect nasal or oral samples from the body. The material collected on the swabs is then analyzed to detect any viral RNA material, Soni said.
"No new material is being added to your body when you get a PCR test," Soni said.
Luciferase can be used "to tag certain proteins and genes with biofluorescence so that they can be investigated to understand diseases at a genetic and molecular level," Soni said, but that’s not what’s happening with PCR tests.
And while some claims about luciferase and COVID-19 vaccines and tests appear couched in a biblical context, the enzyme doesn’t refer to the devil. Luciferase is derived from the latin roots "lux," meaning "light," and "ferre," meaning "to carry," Soni said. "Lucifer translates to lightbearer, which is an apt description of luciferase assays."
We rate claims that PCR tests put luciferase in your brain False.
Instagram post, Oct. 25, 2022
PolitiFact, No, COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain luciferase, Nov. 19, 2021
Email interview with Dr. Apurv Soni, associate professor, UMass Chan Medical School, Oct. 26, 2022
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