No, COVID-19 vaccines do not make people magnetic

IMAGE: Namibia Fact Check / WhatsApp

Viral videos show people sticking ‘magnets’ to where they were supposedly vaccinated, but there is no proof that vaccines cause a magnetic reaction.

Video clips of people sticking what they claim to be magnets to where they claim a COVID-19 vaccine was administered on their upper arms have been going viral in WhatsApp groups and on social media, with some even claiming it was proof that COVID-19 vaccines contained metal parts or even microchips. 

The phenomenon has even spawned an online movement – the #MagnetChallenge – of people recording and posting videos of how objects claimed to be magnets stick to the site on their upper arms where a COVID-19 vaccine was supposedly injected. 

The magnet-sticking-to-arm thing has become the latest anti-vaccine phenomenon being amplified by anti-vaccine profiles, pages and groups across various social media platforms. 

The false claim that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips has been coming on for most of the last year, since early 2020, and refuses to die down.

So, what’s the story?

The magnet-sticking-to-arm phenomenon has been circulating and been debunked by fact checkers around the world over recent weeks. 

This latest anti-vaccine phenomenon and associated false claims, like so many others, seems to originate from within US-based anti-vaccine groups. 

British fact checker, Full Fact, states of the phenomenon:

“It’s much more likely that the videos are showing adhesion of the magnet to the skin, thanks partly to moisture on the skin’s surface and the fact that the magnet is small and light. This effect is similar to how it’s possible to “stick” a coin to your forehead or balance a spoon on your nose.”

For a really comprehensive and simple debunk of this phenomenon, see this article by American fact checker Snopes.

The bottom line is that COVID-19 vaccines do not contain materials, or ‘microchips’, that would generate a magnetic reaction in someone’s body after having been injected with a vaccine. 

The ingredients of the notable COVID-19 vaccines are available publicly, and online, for anyone to check if these vaccines are safe or contain materials that would cause a magnetic reaction. 

To view the ingredients of the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Jansen) vaccines, see this informative article. Or go here for the ingredients of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, or here for the ingredients of the Moderna vaccine or here for the ingredients of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Importantly, when viewing these videos, keep in mind that the people in them offer or present no evidence that they have been vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine or that the objects they are sticking to their arms are actually magnets.

The statements, information and/or data referenced in this article have been assessed and found to be false.

19th May 2021

Frederico Links

Frederico Links is the editor and lead researcher of Namibia Fact Check and a research associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)