Florida Surgeon General Wednesday called for a stop to the use of Covid vaccines, citing widely refuted concerns that contaminants in the vaccine could become permanently embedded in human DNA.

“These vaccines are not suitable for use in humans,” Dr. Joseph Ladapo, the state’s surgeon general and top health official, said in a statement released by the Florida Department of Health.

Federal health officials and other experts have searched repeatedly has counter Dr. Ladapo’s erroneous comments on vaccines, noting that a careful review of the scientific evidence found no basis for his statements.

The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it had not identified any “safety concerns related to the sequence or amount of residual DNA.”

Covid vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna use what’s called messenger RNA, or mRNA, a type of genetic material, to prompt the body to make immune molecules against the coronavirus.

Dr. Ladapo’s latest statement amplifies Florida’s growing anti-vaccine stance. He was appointed surgeon general in 2021 by the governor. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has since increasingly aligned himself with anti-vaccine claims that the shots cause serious harm.

In March 2022, Dr. Ladapo released guidelines advise against healthy children receiving vaccines, despite studies showing that vaccines are safe and effective at all ages. This failed, he recommended that young men aged 18 to 39 avoid mRNA vaccines due to a high risk of cardiac death, arriving at this conclusion in edit results of a study carried out by the State.

Last year, Dr. Ladapo blamed Covid vaccines for potentially deadly illnesses reported in Florida and elsewhere, prompting the FDA to publish a rebuttal. And in September, Florida advised all residents under 65 not to get vaccinated.

Dr. Ladapo’s latest claim is “very irresponsible,” said John Wherry, a vaccine expert and director of the Institute of Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania.

“He has, however, demonstrated a tenuous understanding of science and medicine in general during the pandemic, so this is not surprising,” Dr Wherry said.

Neither Mr. DeSantis’s presidential campaign nor his governor’s office immediately responded to requests for comment. The Florida Department of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the rationale for Dr. Ladapo’s assessment. or its potential effect on vaccination in the state.

Dr. Ladapo’s intensified rhetoric has prompted federal agencies to respond directly to his claims. In a letter to Dr. Ladapo Published in December, the FDA detailed the many reasons why its claims are implausible.

Vaccines saved millions of lives, the agency said in a statement Wednesday. He chastised Dr. Ladapo for fueling misinformation that contributes to low vaccination and continued deaths and severe illness from Covid.

Covid is reappearing again in the United States, and fewer than one in five American adults have received the latest injections. Even among people 75 and older, who are most at risk of contracting Covid, only about one in three people have received the most recent version of the vaccine. Vaccination rates in Florida are among the lowest in the country.

“The FDA strongly supports the safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality of the approved and authorized Covid-19 vaccines, and respectfully disagrees with the opinion of the Florida Surgeon General,” the agency said.

In his statement Wednesday, Dr. Ladapo said contaminants in vaccines could integrate into human DNA, theoretically rendering chromosomes unstable and healthy cells cancerous.

Experts in virology and immunology have said these ideas were absurd.

“You’ll see a lot of ‘potency’ there,” said John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. “There is no evidence that this chain of ‘powers’ is actually happening or even could happen. »

DNA vaccines contain several orders of magnitude more DNA than is present as a contaminant in an mRNA vaccine, and yet have never been associated with cancer, Dr. Moore noted.

“Every member of my immediate family has received doses of the mRNA vaccine,” he added. “I am absolutely certain that none of them are at risk of getting cancer.”

For Dr. Ladapo’s claim to be true, humans would need to have an enzyme capable of incorporating foreign DNA into their genome.

“We don’t have one,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee and editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“There is no mechanism or credible evidence,” Dr. Rubin said.

Mike Ives And Nicolas Nehamas reports contributed.

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