Two men dressed up as the devil
The devil has been linked to a number of strange and unrealistic claims about COVID-19 vaccines. Image by AP

Devil in the detail for diabolical COVID jab claim

Jacob Shteyman October 6, 2022

COVID mRNA vaccines alter our DNA, making the number of genes a variant of the devil's number - 666.


False. The vaccines do not alter DNA or add new genes to the genome.

A video shared to an Australian Facebook group is making some diabolical claims about COVID-19 vaccines.

The video (screenshot here) says mRNA vaccines add an extra strand to a recipient’s DNA, creating a triple helix structure and causing the number of genes to add up to a variant of the devil’s number – 666.

However, experts rubbished the claims, telling AAP FactCheck mRNA vaccines do not change DNA. They say the video is unrealistic, nonsense and just plain silly.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, carries genetic information that dictates how the human body develops and functions. Its unmistakable double helix shape resembles a twisted ladder with one strand on each side connected by ‘rungs’ of genetic code.

A screenshot of the Facebook video
 Geneticists say the Facebook video’s claims are wrong on many levels, including dodgy maths. 

Conspiracy theorists have accused the COVID vaccine of branding recipients with the mark of the beast – a symbol alluded to in the Bible that denotes a wearer’s allegiance to the devil. This mark includes the devil’s number – 666.

The video’s narrator says: “Through mRNA messaging technology it actually breaks the strand and puts in a third strand which creates a triple helix,” (video mark 1min 9secs).

He then claims each strand of DNA contains 72,000 genes – so a three-stranded triple helix contains 216,000, which is supposedly derived from the devil’s number.

“The number of the beast is 666 or as the Bible states 600, three-score and six. Now multiply this – 600 times 60 times 6 equals 216,000,” (video mark 2min 42secs).

Professor John Rasko, head of gene and stem cell therapy at the Centenary Institute, says the video is “nonsense”.

“It is confused and makes too many mistakes in physical reality and logic to document,” Prof Rasko told AAP FactCheck in an email.

Prof Rasko explained most scientists believe human DNA is made up of 20,000-25,000 genes in total. Calculating the amount of genes was not simply a matter of adding up the genes in each strand, he said.

“The two strands have complementary sequences chemically speaking and don’t substantially add more genes – certainly not double.”

Prof Rasko also said it was not possible for mRNA vaccines to add a third strand to human DNA as they only add a small amount of genetic material to cells which goes away after a short period of time.

“(The COVID mRNA vaccine) never causes a triple helix and certainly never 72,000 additional genes. That’s just silly.”

AAP FactCheck has previously found mRNA vaccines cannot alter DNA as they do not enter the nucleus of cells and cannot integrate into the genome.

Gaetan Burgio, a geneticist at the Australian National University, says the video’s claim is fantasy.

“The transformation of human DNA into a stable triple helix structure with RNA is not possible,” Dr Burgio told AAP FactCheck in an email.

He said there were some circumstances in which an RNA-DNA triple helix structure could occur in DNA, but these formations would be “short, unstable and degrade very quickly due to the difference in chemical composition of the RNA and DNA”.

Dr Burgio also says the RNA is superimposed on top of the DNA in these structures, not incorporated as a part of the DNA itself.

“Therefore, I would qualify the claim made in this video unrealistic and misleading,” he said.

The Verdict

The claim that the COVID mRNA vaccines alter our DNA, making the number of genes a variant of the devil’s number is false.

The vaccines do not enter the nucleus of a cell and therefore cannot alter DNA or turn the genome into a triple helix structure. Geneticists have told AAP FactCheck the claim is illogical and unrealistic.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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