A video of cells moving in a dish has been shared repeatedly in Korean-language Facebook posts that claim it shows "nanorobots in Covid-19 vaccines". This is false: the video has circulated in reports since November 2021 about an experiment with frog cells, not vaccines. A researcher involved in the experiment told AFP it has no connection to vaccines. Health experts have separately told AFP that Covid-19 vaccines do not contain nanorobots.
The video was shared here on Facebook on December 16, 2021.
"Urgent! Just in. Video shows nanorobots in Covid-19 vaccines. It replicates itself and is controlled by 5G and Graphene Oxide," reads the Korean-language claim in part.
A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, captured on December 23, 2021.
The video shows cells moving under a microscope.
In fact, the video is unrelated to Covid-19 vaccines.
Frog cells experiment
A reverse image search of a keyframe from the video on Google found the same video was posted in a report by the London-based science magazine The New Scientist on November 29, 2021.
The report is headlined: "Living robots made from frog cells can replicate themselves in a dish".
It reports on the work of the US researchers who created "living robots" from frog cells that can reproduce.
There is no reference to Covid-19 vaccines in the report.
"They have no connection to vaccines whatsoever," said Michael Levin, a Tufts University professor who worked on the research.
"These are frog cells that can only live in a specific kind of water. They cannot be used to track anything or harm anyone.
"The purpose of this research is to understand how groups of cells make decisions about what they will build, so that someday we can make regenerative medicine and help people with damaged organs repair them."
She lamented that the word "nanotechnology," coined decades ago, has been misinterpreted over time to suggest that "there's some sort of active, living component that's going to go into your body and be like a little robot, march around and do stuff, and that that must be nefarious."
"But in actuality, the word 'nanotechnology' just simply means that these are technologies or materials that are the scale of a nanometer, and that's it. This [tiny fat bubbles called lipid nanoparticles used in mRNA vaccines] is actually a very passive material, it's a lipid," she explained.
"There's nothing mechanical, there's nothing electrical, there's nothing magnetic," she said, adding that without the lipids, very little of the mRNA would get into cells "and the immune response would not be very strong."