A claim suggesting that the Covid-19 booster shot causes lymphoma has gone viral on social media. A Facebook post is widely being circulated in Thailand that claims that those who receive a booster shot were at increased risk of developing lymphoma and autoimmune diseases.
Lymphoma is a broad term for cancer that begins in cells of the lymph system. Autoimmune diseases are where one's immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake. These attacks can affect any part of the body, weakening bodily function and even turning life-threatening.
The claim first originated through a Facebook post on October 28, 2021.
As reported by AFP, the post is originally in Thai language. When translated it to English, the caption says, "There is a higher chance that you will get lymphoma instead of Covid-19 from a booster shot. Sent to me from Dr Pirom, Chulalongkorn Hospital."
It continues, "There are a lot of warnings from Thai doctors and international reports. Now the Covid-19 infection rate is higher, a lot of people are looking for a third booster shot. They are looking for vaccines that stimulate their immunity level."
"But the immunity -- such as [immunoglobulins] or antibodies -- that are created in our body is produced by the activity of lymphocytes. If they are stimulated too much, it may cause lymphoma as well as autoimmune disease (LSE)," the FB post states.
What's the Truth?
This claim is nothing but baseless and false. AFP has fact-checked this claim and discovered that there is no proof that people who receive Covid-19 booster shots are at increased risk of developing lymphoma.
The news agency also contacted several experts and concluded that the FB post is misleading.
According to Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, the Head of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Health Science Center at Thailand's Chulalongkorn University, "There is not sufficient evidence to support the claim. However, patients with autoimmune diseases should consult with their doctors before getting a jab."
Earlier in August 2021, Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University released a statement over such repeated claims that continue to spread vaccine hesitancy.
The statement reads, "The claim that Covid-19 vaccine overly stimulates your immunity level -- which in turn increases your chance of developing lymphoma -- is fake news." It continues, "There is no evidence to support it whatsoever -- based on more than one billion doses of Covid-19 jabs administered around the world as well as other vaccines administered."
Dr Tany Thanivayarn, a US-based specialist on pulmonary and critical care medicine, exposed the lies and conspiracy theories surrounding the booster shots through a YouTube video.
In his video uploaded on August 8, 2021, he says, "There isn't any medical information that shows lymphoma can be caused by [Covid-19] vaccines."
Thailand Administering the Booster Shots Since September 2021
As reported by the Bangkok Post, Thailand is expected to get 152.9 million vaccine doses this year, of which 62.9 million doses are from AstraZeneca and 31.5 million doses are from Pfizer.
Since September, Thailand started to administer Covid-19 booster shots to people who have been fully vaccinated. Since late July, the Thai government begun to give booster shots to some medical staff and to inoculate people with mixed vaccines to improve the effectiveness.