French news outlet AFP (Agence France-Presse) published a so-called “Fact Check” piece titled “Article misleads on safety of Pfizer vaccine ingredient” that, ironically, misleads its readers regarding what was reported in an American Faith article.
Yahoo! News reposted AFP’s article on its website.
The attacked American Faith article, titled “Pfizer Vax Ingredient ALC-0315 Is ‘Not for Human Use’: OSHA,” accurately reports how Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccine contains 0.43 mg of a synthetic lipid called ALC-0315. It notes the fact that American chemical company Cayman Chemical lists ALC-0315 as “[n]ot for human or veterinary diagnostic or therapeutic use” in a technical data sheet referencing the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
I. WE NEVER SAID THAT
At the very beginning of the piece, the AFP/Yahoo! News article falsely claims the following regarding American Faith’s article:
An article and social media posts claim an ingredient in Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine is not safe for humans, citing a data sheet from a US chemical corporation. This is misleading;
But American Faith’s article does not “claim an ingredient in Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is not safe for humans.” AFP/Yahoo! News’ reporting is false.
In fact, the American Faith article doesn’t “claim” anything. Rather, it cites direct quotes from primary sources. By writing that American Faith “claim[s] an ingredient in Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is not safe for humans,” AFP/Yahoo! News not only commits a straw man fallacy, attempting to disprove a statement not made in the first place, but it also misrepresents our article and therefore misleads readers. This is ironic because the headline of the AFP/Yahoo! News piece falsely claims that the American Faith article “misleads.”
Moreover, in our article, we do not cite Cayman Chemical’s data sheet in order to prove the nonexistent claim that “an ingredient in Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is not safe for humans.” We cite information in Cayman Chemical’s data sheet in order to prove that a major chemical company’s technical data sheet for ALC-0315 states that the product is “[n]ot for human or veterinary diagnostic or therapeutic use.”
What AFP/Yahoo! News is calling “misleading,” American Faith never said. AFP/Yahoo! News gets the facts wrong from the very start, in their headline and first paragraph.
But readers of AFP/Yahoo! News might nevertheless incorrectly believe that AFP/Yahoo! News’ piece successfully “fact checks” American Faith’s article when in reality it’s only fact-checked a claim not made by American Faith. This tactic is ironic, again, because it is AFP/Yahoo! News’ own readers who are being misled by AFP/Yahoo! News’ own inaccurate reporting.
Why would AFP/Yahoo! News’s article open with such easily avoidable falsehoods? If AFP/Yahoo! News wanted to “fact check” American Faith, why not start the article with something American Faith actually wrote and then refute that? Why “refute” what American Faith didn’t say?
II. WE NEVER SAID THAT, EITHER
The AFP/Yahoo! News article also misleadingly says the following in the first paragraph of its attack on American Faith’s article:
[Cayman Chemical] says it does not manufacture the [ALC-0315] in [Pfizer's] shot
But the American Faith article does not say that Cayman Chemical “manufacture[s] the [ALC-0315] in [Pfizer’s] shot,” as AFP/Yahoo! News falsely implies, as it commits yet another straw man fallacy.
This statement from AFP/Yahoo! News falsely implies that American Faith’s article claims that Pfizer uses Cayman Chemical’s ALC-0315, when, in fact, American Faith is unaware of where the ALC-0315 in Pfizer’s mRNA drug comes from, presumably because Pfizer doesn’t disclose from where it sources ALC-0315 nor the product’s safety data. Apparently, AFP/Yahoo! News is also unaware of Pfizer’s ALC-0315 source because they too do not report either Pfizer’s ALC-0315 source or that product’s safety data.
Why did AFP/Yahoo! News not report where Pfizer gets its ALC-0315 from? Why did AFP/Yahoo! News not report the safety data for Pfizer’s ALC-0315?
Nevertheless, and again, readers of AFP/Yahoo! News might incorrectly believe AFP/Yahoo! News’ article successfully “fact checks” American Faith’s article when it only falsely implicitly fact-checks yet another claim not made by American Faith.
AFP/Yahoo! News makes the same false implication when it says later on:
“We do not make ALC-0315 for pharmaceutical use,” said Ryan Foster, a Cayman Chemical spokesperson, in a February 15 email.
III. WE NEVER SAID THAT, FOR THE THIRD & FOURTH TIME
The AFP/Yahoo! News article also misleadingly says that Cayman Chemical’s data sheet “pertains to research-grade chemicals, which health experts say do not undergo the same strict regulatory approval process.”
But our article never claimed that Cayman Chemical’s document pertains to “non-“research-grade chemicals. Neither did we claim that so-called “health experts” do or do not say that ALC-0315 undergoes any “regulatory approval process.”
Why didn’t AFP/Yahoo! News’ article show readers any documents proving Pfizer uses “consumer-grade” or “commercial-grade” ALC-0315 and detailing that product’s regulatory approval process? American Faith couldn’t find such documents. Apparently, neither could AFP/Yahoo! News.
Nevertheless, and again still, readers of AFP/Yahoo! News might wrongly believe AFP/Yahoo! News’ article successfully “fact checks” American Faith’s article when in reality it only falsely implicitly fact-checks more claims not made by American Faith.
IV. WHO “CONFLATES”?
The AFP/Yahoo! News piece wrongly says about American Faith’s article:
The article goes on to conflate the vaccine ingredient with a compound that Cayman Chemical, an American biotechnology company, produces for health research.
But this is false.
In the first place, the American Faith article cites primary source data from Pfizer’s own documents to show that ALC-0315 is listed as an ingredient in the pharmaceutical company’s COVID drug.
Then, American Faith cites more primary source data, this time from Cayman Chemical, to show that an American chemical company’s data sheet states that ALC-0315 “is for research use” and is “[n]ot for human or veterinary diagnostic or therapeutic use.” The document designates ALC-0315 as the “product” and says “this product” is “Not for human or veterinary diagnostic or therapeutic use.”
The data sheet even lists ALC-0315 under “Dangerous components” on page three.
This is not conflation. Rather, it’s straightforward primary source citation. American Faith even links to those primary sources and embeds versions and/or screenshots of those primary sources.
Moreover, Pfizer does not disclose its source for ALC-0315, nor does it disclose the product’s long-term safety data. American Faith reached out to a Pfizer representative who was unable to verify where the company gets its ALC-0315.
V. WHERE’S THE PROOF?
The AFP/Yahoo! News piece also claims that American Faith “has previously promoted debunked claims about Covid-19 treatments and vaccines,” but without providing links to where these promotions allegedly are published on AmericanFaith.com. American Faith is happy to reexamine any past reporting and correct the record if needed.
The AFP/Yahoo! News piece goes on:
“The RNA vaccine can’t just be injected into the body, then it would break down immediately. It must be protected with a cover,” Annette Beck-Sickinger, professor of biochemistry and bioorganic chemistry at the University of Leipzig in Germany, previously told AFP. “This shell is a mixture of different lipids (fat molecules), which then form small globules like a kind of ‘soap bubble.’”
Describing what lipid nanoparticle technology is used for in Pfizer’s vaccine does not refute the fact that Cayman Chemical lists ALC-0315 as “[n]ot for human or veterinary diagnostic or therapeutic use” in a technical data sheet referencing OSHA. A description of what ALC-0315 does is irrelevant to what the data sheet says regarding its use in humans.
VII. DOCUMENT CITED BY AFP/YAHOO! NEWS SAYS ALC-0315 COULD STAY IN THE HUMAN BODY FOR “4-6 MONTHS”
The AFP/Yahoo! News piece says:
“The manufacturing process and controls for Comirnaty have been well characterized and qualified,” the FDA told AFP in a February 21 email. “The analytical procedures include tests to ensure vaccine safety, identity, purity, quality and potency.”
A Pfizer spokeswoman told AFP she would not comment on non-Pfizer documents, instead pointing to the EMA fact sheet when asked about the safety of specific ingredients.
American Faith analyzed the European Medicines Agency (EMA) document cited above.
We found that the EMA document refers to ALC-0315 as a “new component” and says “there is limited experience” regarding ALC-0315 and that “Some uncertainties remain regarding the ALC-0315 long half-life,” before discussing the “toxicity” of other Pfizer vaccine ingredients.
This information occurs in a section within the EMA titled “Uncertainties and limitations about unfavourable effects.” The first sentence reads “Long term safety data is not available at this stage.” Here are more excerpts from this section of the EMA regarding ALC-0315:
- “Data on immunocompromised individuals is limited”
- “Data from exposure during pregnancy is very limited”
- “There is no data available on interaction with other vaccines given in co-administration”
- “Uncertainties remain regarding causality association of acute peripheral paralysis to vaccination due to the limited number of cases, which are consistent with background rates. Nevertheless, facial paralysis will be included as an adverse event of special interest (AESI) for pharmacovigilance monitoring and in the active surveillance study protocols”
- “While apart from facial paralysis, whose aetiology is currently unknown, no possible autoimmune adverse events where identified as causally related to vaccination, rare events of this nature cannot be excluded based on the size of the available data set.”
- “There is a theoretical risk, based on non-clinical data with MERS and SARS vaccines, of vaccine-associated enhanced disease (VAED) including vaccine-associated enhanced respiratory disease (VAERD)”
However, the EMA goes on to cite a study in which rats were injected with ALC-0315. Researchers estimated it would take six weeks for ALC-0315 to leave the rats’ liver. “Following plasma clearance, the liver appears to be to major organ to which ALC-0315 and ALC-0159 distribute,” they write. (ALC-0159 is another ingredient in Pfizer’s vaccine). “These data indicate that 95% elimination of ALC-0315 will occur approx. 30-40 days following final administration in the rat,” the EMA says. But in another section, it says that in humans it could take “4-5 months” for most of ALC-0315 to leave the body.
Did you know that following vaccination with Pfizer’s drug, the ALC-0315 in that vaccine could stay in the human body for 5 months?
In light of this EMA data apparently not vindicating but incriminating ALC-0315, it is unclear why AFP/Yahoo! News or the Pfizer spokeswoman would reference it. In fact, American Faith will be publishing new articles in the future about safety concerns regarding Pfizer’s vaccine using this EMA data.
VIII. ETHANOL’S DANGER DOES NOT MAKE ALC-0315 SAFE
The AFP/Yahoo! News piece adds:
A safety data sheet from Cayman Chemical does say its ALC-0315 product is "for research use" and "not for human or veterinary diagnostic or therapeutic use." But Raymond Tellier, a microbiologist at the McGill University Health Center in Canada, said it is important to note the other ingredients listed in the compound. In addition to ALC-0315, the document shows the Cayman Chemical product is comprised of 95 percent ethanol, a volatile, flammable and toxic compound. Tellier said that because lipids may not be water soluble, companies "dissolve them in an organic solvent." "In the case of Cayman Chemical, they choose ethanol," he said in a February 16 email. "But in the final formulation of the vaccine, there is no ethanol."
Notice the deflection away from ALC-0315 and toward ethanol.
The fact that ethanol is incorporated in Cayman Chemical’s mixture does not prove that ALC-0315 is safe. Nor does it change the fact that the chemical company’s technical data sheet for ALC-0315 says the product is “[n]ot for human or veterinary diagnostic or therapeutic use.”
IX. THE FINAL STRAW…MAN
The AFP/Yahoo! News piece says:
In 2021, Cayman Chemical addressed similar misinformation about another compound that academics and scientists use to research health therapies. "Chemicals under the same name can have differing designations such as grade or formulation that are defined by their manufacturing protocols and intended use," the company said in a press release. Tellier said that is an important distinction. "What they say is that their product 'is not for human or veterinary diagnostic or therapeutic use,'" he said. "The reason is simply that Cayman Chemical manufactures reagents for research labs and sells only to research labs; if you want to sell for other uses such as diagnostic or therapeutic uses there are many more regulatory and safety procedures to go through."
Notice how the AFP/Yahoo! News piece references not ALC-0315, the product in question, but “another compound,” representing yet another fallacious straw man. The fact that “Chemicals under the same name can have differing designations such as grade or formulation that are defined by their manufacturing protocols and intended use” does not prove that ALC-0315 is safe. Nor, again, does it change the fact that the chemical company’s technical data sheet for ALC-0315 says the product is “[n]ot for human or veterinary diagnostic or therapeutic use.”
X. CONCLUDING QUESTIONS:
- Why couldn’t AFP/Yahoo! News definitively show that ALC-0315 is safe for humans?
- Why did they resort to committing strawman fallacies?
- Why did they misdirect toward irrelevancies?
- Why didn’t they disclose that following vaccination with Pfizer’s drug, the ALC-0315 in the vaccine could stay in the human body for 5 months, according to the EMA?
- Why did they accuse American Faith of “previously promot[ing] debunked claims about Covid-19 treatments and vaccines” without proof?
- Why did they state so many falsehoods?
- Why could they not report where Pfizer gets its ALC-0315 from?
- Why could they not report the safety data for Pfizer’s ALC-0315?
- Why didn’t they show any documents proving Pfizer uses “consumer-grade” or “commercial-grade” ALC-0315 and detailing that product’s regulatory approval process?
Perhaps the answers to these questions are why half of Americans in a recent survey indicated they believe mainstream news organizations “intend to mislead, misinform or persuade the public to adopt a particular point of view through their reporting.”