A recent flurry of social media activity regarding the Pfizer vaccine seems aimed at worsening vaccine hesitancy among Christians, particularly evangelicals.
A clip that has gained traction on social media includes excerpts from an interview that Melissa Strickler, a former quality assurance and quality control manager at Pfizer, gave to LifeSiteNews, a “pro-life” news website that has previously spread COVID-19 disinformation.
Earlier, Strickler falsely claimed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 may contain fetal cells.
In the interview, Strickler claimed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “glows.” She added that the only components which could make the vaccine glow “are SM-102, which is called Luciferase, and graphene oxide.”
When asked to describe what she means by glows, Strickler replied: “[I]t looks like someone took a blue glow stick, cracked it open, and poured it in the vial,” adding that it “only glows if there’s light and if it’s around a dark surrounding.”
Emerald Robinson, the White House correspondent for Newsmax, was among those who retweeted the clip, rhetorically asking her Twitter followers: “Dear Christians: why would you inject something with LUCIFERASE into your body?”
The implication, of course, is that there is a connection between luciferase and Lucifer (the devil).
The claim that the Pfizer vaccine contains any ingredients that make it glow in the dark is false. Attempts to connect the vaccine to the enzyme luciferase are intended to stoke fears connected to the end-time beliefs held by some Christian denominations.
First, Comirnaty, the trade name for the COVID-19 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, does not contain SM-102 or graphene oxide.
A full list of the vaccine ingredients is available on the Food and Drug Administration website.
Those ingredients include salts used to maintain the acidic balance in your body, and sugar, which healthcare experts say helps the vaccine’s molecules maintain their shape during the freezing process.
Comirnaty also contains lipids, fatty molecules that do not dissolve in water. They are used in lipid nanoparticle delivery systems, which help bring the fragile mRNA into the target cells.
SM-102 is not among the lipids used in Comirnaty.
The Moderna vaccine does contain SM-102. However, Strickler was incorrect to say SM-102 “is called Luciferase.”
SM-102 is combined with other lipids to form lipid nanoparticles (very tiny pieces of matter made of lipids that do not dissolve in water).
Studies have found SM-102 to be "optimal for the intramuscular administration of vaccines.”
Luciferase refers to a group of enzymes that produce bioluminescence. Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions. Bioluminescence occurs when livings things produce and emit light, as commonly seen in fireflies.
French pharmacologist Raphael Dubois first coined the term luciferase while conducting experiments on bioluminescence in the 19th century.
According to Nebraska Medicine, a research partner of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, “SM-102 is sometimes mixed with chemicals that aren’t meant for human consumption” when used for purposes other than medicine.
For example, SM-102, which contains luciferase-encoding mRNA, can be used for non-invasive monitoring of cells.
Virologists have also used luciferase to develop better diagnostic tests for COVID-19.
But vaccine manufacturers did not put the enzyme in any COVID-19 vaccine.
Previous conspiracy theories involving SM-102 have deceptively used the warning label for chloroform when describing SM-102 to make people think it is hazardous to their health.
Likewise, no World Health Organization-approved vaccine contains graphene oxide, a compound of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen that is used in some biomedical applications that may be toxic.
According to Health Desk, an initiative of the technology non-profit Meedan, the ingredients of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were tested by outside parties and “not found to contain any graphene oxide in their formulas, including their lipid nanoparticles.”
This is not the first attempt to link COVID-19 vaccines to end-time conspiracy theories.
Luciferase sounds similar to Lucifer, a name which some Christians interpret to refer to the devil. However, Lucifer literally means light bringer/bearer in Latin.
Many medical terms come from Greek or Latin. Luciferase is derived from the Latin words for “light” (lux) and to bring/carry (ferre).
In any case, attempts to tie the COVID-19 vaccines to satanic plots, and/or to imply that they contain ingredients hazardous to human health, are false.
Yet Robinson has attempted to spread that very fear. In a now-deleted tweet, she falsely claimed: “Dear Christians: the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends.”
Robinson has also spread the Great Reset conspiracy, which posits that a global elite is using the COVID-19 pandemic to dismantle the United States, the system of capitalism, and American society.
Polygraph.info reached out to Newsmax to determine if Robinson’s repeated false claims violated their social media policy or code of ethics. Newsmax has not responded.