Florida's Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo has called for a halt to the use of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, citing concerns about "nucleic acid contaminants" in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the risks posed by DNA integration.
The FDA, however, has refuted these concerns, expressing confidence in the quality, safety, and effectiveness of the vaccines. They emphasized that no safety concerns related to residual DNA have been identified despite the administration of over a billion doses of the mRNA vaccines worldwide.
Ladapo's statement was criticized by the FDA, which described his claims as misleading. The FDA spokesperson Cherie Duvall-Jones reaffirmed the agency's stance, stating that millions of lives have been saved because of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, which have been received by most Americans undergoing vaccination.
The mRNA vaccines, unlike some others, do not contain pieces of the virus but instead provide instructions for cells to make the spike protein found on the surface of the coronavirus. This prompts the body to create antibodies that fight the virus if infected. Decades of research have preceded the COVID-19 pandemic, and the vaccines do not affect or interact with DNA.
Ladapo, appointed in 2021, has faced criticism from federal health officials and the scientific community for his statements on vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida became the first state to recommend against the COVID-19 vaccine for healthy children, contrary to CDC recommendations. In March 2023, the CDC and FDA jointly stated that Ladapo's claims about increased health risks related to the COVID-19 vaccine were incorrect and potentially harmful to the public.
A Tampa Bay Times analysis found that Ladapo's recommendation for young men to avoid the vaccine due to the risk of cardiac-related deaths was based on omitted key COVID-19 vaccine data, leading experts to call his guidance "badly flawed"