There are 10 ingredients in Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccines. Contrary to several conspiracy theories circulating online, a tracking microchip planted by the government to surveil the movements of Americans is not among them.
For months, widely shared videos and viral posts on social media have baselessly claimed that such technologies could find their way into syringes delivering shots. None of the rumors are true.
With millions of doses of Pfizer’s newly authorized vaccine getting distributed nationwide, the rumors have resurfaced, prompting the pharmaceutical company to publicize what actually is in its immunizing recipe.
In the vaccine itself, there’s one active ingredient: a molecule called messenger RNA, or mRNA, which contains genetic instructions for a coronavirus protein called spike. Once injected, the mRNA will instruct human cells to manufacture spike, exposing the immune system to a highly recognize feature of the virus. The idea is to help the body learn one of the virus’s most distinguishing traits, so that the virus will be recognized and rapidly quashed if it tries to establish an infection.
The mRNA rapidly degrades, leaving no trace in the body. All that’s left behind is a molecular memory of the virus — the intended goal of any vaccine.
Pfizer’s vaccine also contains nine other ingredients. Four of them are lipids with impossibly complex chemical names: (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis (ALC-3015); (2- hexyldecanoate),2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide (ALC-0159); 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine (DPSC); and cholesterol.
These lipids come together to form a greasy, protective bubble around the mRNA, which is naturally very fragile and would be chopped to bits if injected directly into the body. Swaddled in an oily sphere, the genetic instructions have a better shot of finding their way into cells.
The vaccine also includes sucrose, or sugar, which keeps the nanoparticles from clumping up when they’re frozen in storage.
The vaccine also contains four salts: potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, basic sodium phosphate dihydrate and sodium chloride. If that last ingredient looks familiar, it should: It’s table salt.
These common chemicals are found in a variety of treatments and vaccines that have long been in use. The salts in the vaccine help match its contents to the environment of the human body, which contains its own mix of natural salts.
Jerica Pitts, Pfizer’s director of global media relations, also notes that the vaccine is diluted with water and salt before injection, another step to ensure that the balance of salts in the mix is just right.
None of these ingredients contain or resemble microchips.