News Release

Refuting Anti-Vaccine Disinformation on so-called “VAIDS”


Recent reporting from Coda reveals that online anti-vaccine influencers––including Dr. Joseph Mercola, one of the top spreaders of vaccine misinformation during the pandemic––are claiming that Covid-19 vaccines, particularly booster shots, cause AIDS, or “VAIDS.” Coda and ScienceUpFirst, an organization working to counter misinformation, concluded: “Vaccine Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (VAIDS) does not exist. It is a made-up condition by players participating in the anti-vaccine movement as a way to induce fear and undermine the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”

Available for interviews:

JOHN MOORE, MD, (Dr. Moore prefers interviews during the working week from 11am-5pm ET.) 
    Moore is a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine who is widely known for his research on HIV/AIDS.

He told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “Reliable estimates from two different research groups are that between 135,000 and 160,000 unvaccinated Americans died of Covid-19 during the period in 2021 when they had ready access to the literally life-saving vaccines. A substantial proportion of these deaths lie at the hands of the peddlers of vaccine disinformation.

“This iteration of anti-vaccine disinformation––involving linking Covid-19 vaccination to AIDS––is ludicrous and has been completely debunked. Bringing AIDS into the existing web of [vaccine misinformation and] deceit is a blatant attempt at fear-mongering. All of this will yet further strengthen resistance to taking vaccines, and hence cause even more avoidable deaths.”

In 2021, the Stanford Virality Project––a global study aimed at understanding the disinformation dynamics specific to the Covid-19 pandemic––found that historically, anti-vaccine narratives focus on undermining the public’s belief in the safety of the vaccines. Anti-vaccine activists and influencers have capitalized on the same fears around Covid-19 vaccines. At times, false and misleading information, including this newer claim about “VAIDS,” states or implies that the Covid-19 vaccines or their ingredients are in some way poisonous or can cause new, contagious symptoms.