Fact Check: Is Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Not Halal, as Viral Video Claims?

A video has recently emerged of a man, who identifies himself as Muslim, trying to dissuade people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine which is being rolled out across the world because it is "not halal."

The man claims that the vaccine will harm people in the community, that the vaccine is "haram haram haram" (something which is forbidden in Islam) and that it is cultured from aborted fetuses.

The man in the video then goes on to confront another man before shouting towards other Muslims that they are "sellouts" and says, "You are infecting our people, that is what you are doing. Don't take the vaccine, please don't take the vaccine, it is poison."

The Claim

The man claims that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, which is being rolled out across the U.K. and now the U.S., is made using DNA from pigs, monkeys and "all kinds of other animals." He also says that it causes infertility and adds that the jab contains heavy metals.

He says: "These metals are going to travel in our [human body] systems. It's going to travel to the brain. People are going to lose their minds, develop tumors, brain cancer."

Towards the end of the video, he says that his claims are "proven by health experts, and I mean I'm talking about the World Alliance of Doctors! The World Alliance of Doctors are thousands of doctors across the world!"

The Facts

Salman Waqar from the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) told Newsweek that the Pfizer vaccine does not have any nonhalal ingredients in it. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency also confirms on its website that the "Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any components of animal origin."

A statement from BIMA earlier this month on the efficacy of the vaccine said: "There is no content of animal origin (i.e. no gelatin) and no products are derived from fetal cell lines. The remaining excipients are not of concern."

Waqar said: "The halal aspect of it [Pfizer vaccine] has been noted by several scholars, from Sunni and Shia backgrounds in the U.K. and internationally as well."

A full list of what the Pfizer vaccine (COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2) contains:

  • The active substance is BNT162b2 RNA.

After dilution, the vial contains 5 doses, of 0.3 mL with 30 micrograms mRNA each.

  • This vaccine contains polyethylene glycol/macrogol (PEG) as part of ALC-0159

The other ingredients are:

  • ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
  • ALC-0159 = 2[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
  • 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine,5
  • Cholesterol
  • Potassium chloride
  • Potassium dihydrogen phosphate
  • Sodium chloride
  • Disodium hydrogen phosphate dihydrate
  • Sucrose

Source: U.K. government

Sunni and Shia are the two major denominations of Islam. There are other schools of thought, however, and it is not known precisely what thought leaders in those communities believe.

A fatwa (a ruling on Islamic law) has been issued by Yusuf Shabbir and approved by Mufti Shabbir Ahmad, Mufti Muhammad Tahir and NHS consultant Mawlana Kallingal Riyad stating the vaccine is halal based on the information available.

The ruling states: "The U.K. government has confirmed that the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any components of animal origin. The government's website states, 'The Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency can confirm that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any components of animal origin.'"

Pfizer vaccine
The Pfizer vaccine does not contain any animal products Getty

"We contacted the Pfizer company requesting a breakdown of the ingredients which were shared with us. Initially, the only ingredient of concern was cholesterol, because it can be sourced from animal fat although it is normally sourced from the eggs of hens.

"The aforementioned statement from the government confirms that it is not sourced from animal fat, therefore it is halal. The company has also confirmed this in an email to us which states, "All lipid excipients used in COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 are either from plant-derived sources or are synthetic. The vaccine contains no animal components."

The Ruling

False.

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer does not contain any components of animal origin and has been declared halal by both Sunni and Shia Muslim scholars based on the information available. Newsweek could not find any evidence of the existence of the "World Alliance of Doctors" which the man cited to back his claims.

There is a European-based group called World Doctors Alliance that has been found to be spreading false information a number of times, including its false claims that COVID-19 was a strain of influenza and that "PCR tests are up to 94% false positive."

With regards to other vaccines, such as the ones being developed by Moderna and AstraZeneca, Waqar said the product summary was not available yet upon which scholars and health professionals could make a decision.