A video posted by Goh Meng Seng on 27 November 2021 on various online locations on Facebook contained false and egregious claims about the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. In particular, there is currently no basis to conclude that:
(i) The COVID-19 and HIV viruses could combine and become another air-borne virus; and
(ii) Omicron is vaccine-resistant, and vaccines are totally useless against it.
Here are the facts.
Fact #1: The COVID-19 and HIV viruses cannot combine and become another virus which has the characteristics of the HIV and COVID-19 viruses.
Genetic recombination (that is, the exchange of genetic information) of viruses is known to occur only in genetically related viruses. The HIV and SARS-CoV-2 viruses are not related, and it is implausible in biological terms that these viruses can undergo genetic recombination. To date, there is also no scientific evidence that such a recombination between HIV and SARS-CoV-2 has occurred, contrary to Goh’s assertion.
Fact #2: The COVID-19 and HIV viruses cannot combine in a fully vaccinated patient to become an airborne HIV virus which is vaccine resistant.
The claim that HIV might become transmissible by droplets in the air is also unfounded. Viruses simply do not change drastically enough to take on vastly different properties. HIV is transmitted via bodily fluids, e.g., blood, semen, or vaginal secretions, and will remain to be so.
Fact #3: The Omicron variant is not a combination of the HIV and COVID-19 viruses.
There is simply no scientific evidence to make that claim.
Fact #4: There is no evidence to suggest that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines are totally useless against the Omicron variant.
Studies are ongoing, and there is currently insufficient data on how the Omicron variant affects vaccine effectiveness. Most scientists believe that existing vaccines will retain some effectiveness against the Omicron variant, but protection may be less due to the large number of mutations in the Omicron variant.
We advise members of the public not to speculate and/or spread misinformation which may cause public alarm, and to refer to credible sources of information instead. Please visit www.moh.gov.sg for the latest information on COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations.