‘Madness’: Wild new vaccine theoryThere are unsubstantiated claims that the Pfizer claim can affect pregnant women. Picture: THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP.

Coronavirus has spawned almost as many wild theories as infections – from evil government plots to 5G towers transmitting COVID-19.

Now, with the vaccine rolling out, another crop of misinformation is doing the rounds of social media. And it’s making virus watchers shake their heads in dismay.

According to some, mRNA vaccines – such as the US-German Pfizer-BioNTech jab – can lead pregnant women to miscarry. This, apparently, is due to people “shedding” the vaccine to those who have not had the shot.

Epidemiologists have said there is no evidence to back up the fanciful claims and vaccine “shedding” is not a thing.

A butcher in Toronto is the latest to assert that the Pfizer vaccine could pose “side effects” to women.

He caused a small social media storm on the weekend when he announced on his Instagram account that anyone who had been vaccinated in the previous 28 days would have to remain outside the premises and instead be served on the street “to protect women”.

Dr Jen Gunter, a respected Canadian gynaecologist tweeted about the butcher’s claims and summed it up as “this is madness”.

Another doctor has said it’s a “dangerous” conspiracy designed to “weaken trust” in vaccines.

Canada is currently in a third wave of COVID-19 with around 8000 new cases a day. The province of Alberta now has more daily cases per capita than any other part of Canada or the US.

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Butcher bans vaccinated customers

The social media account for the butchers, based in a northern suburb of Toronto, was previously focused on special offers and recipes. It is now concerned less about meat and more about opposition to masks and vaccines.

In a rambling video, owner Yehuda Goldberg said he was “taking a stand” for his customers many of who were “younger women in child-bearing years”.

He said numerous people in his neighbourhood had received a COVID-19 vaccine which he was not “judging “people for. He then appeared to judge the very same people.

“When you put your life and you put those around you in harm’s way, we will stand up and protect those who are not able to speak up.”

Mr Goldberg said that “for 28 days if you’ve been vaccinated, I’m asking you to please avoid coming into our store”. If the vaccinated must shop with him, he will only serve them outside the store.

In the video he cites a document from Pfizer that, he claims, shows women could have “issues” if they come into contact with someone who is vaccinated.

“Let’s say I get vaccinated and I then I shake hands with my friend who has a pregnant wife, his wife can have issues, it doesn’t mean that she will. It’s that there is a chance of it.”

The butcher said he only acts on “concrete evidence” but the evidence in this case seems flimsy.

RELATED: AstraZeneca v Pfizer: Vaccine side effects compared

Wild claims vaccine uniquely affects women

It seems to be the latest iteration of a conspiracy theory that the vaccine can be “shed” by those who have received the jab.

The Pfizer document used as evidence appears to be a November 2020 paper that lays out the criteria for a study into the safety and efficacy of the mRNA vaccine.

The study specifically sought to exclude pregnant women.

The document states that if a woman who takes part in the study becomes pregnant or a pregnant woman is exposed to someone who is taking part in the study Pfizer should be notified so the firm can study for any side effects.

Like in any medical trial, some of the participants would have received a placebo so could be contracting and transmitting COVID-19 despite thinking they were immune.

“A conspiracy designed to weaken trust”

The US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has noted that all pregnancies have a risk of birth defect or miscarriage and has warned against automatically linking such an outcome with a vaccine.

There has been anecdotal evidence that some women have seen changes to their menstrual cycles after getting the vaccine. More studies may reveal it to be a minor side effect, like muscle pain or a fever.

“Anecdotal reports of some menstrual irregularities is not a reason to avoid getting the vaccine,” said Michelle Wise from the University of Auckland’s gynaecology department on website The Conversation.

“Getting infected with COVID-19 is much more likely to interfere with your health, including your menstrual health.”

There is limited data on COVID-19 vaccines and pregnant women. However, no specific safety concerns have been raised from the millions of vaccines administered.

The FDA added that in tests on pregnant female rats given the mRNA vaccine no adverse effects were seen.

However, pregnant women are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

As for the virus “shedding,” it doesn’t stack up.

“This is a conspiracy that has been created to weaken trust in a series of vaccines that have been demonstrated in clinical trials to be safe and effective,” Dr Christopher Zahn of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists told Reuters.

“Such conspiracies and false narratives are dangerous and have nothing to do with science.”

Vaccines cannot be passed from one person to another simply by being in the same vicinity. Quite simply, it’s not contagious.

“There is no way for a COVID-19 vaccinated person to ‘shed vaccine,’” the US Centres for Disease Control’s COVID-19 clinical team stated.

The COVID-19 virus can be “shed” by those infected and transmitted to others. But vaccines don’t use live viruses so there is no live virus to shed.

However, there may a small number of cases of fully vaccinated people who can still be infected and transmit the virus.

Mr Goldberg seems to have been stung by the backlash to his rule that the vaccinated cannot enter his store. In a further post on Monday, he said “fear” was leading people to turn on him.

Medical authorities have said people with questions about vaccines should consult their local GP, not their local butcher.

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