June 8, 2020

Nuremberg Code Addresses Experimentation, Not Vaccines

From Factcheck.org:

Quick Take

A bogus claim that “[v]accines are in direct violation of The Nuremberg Code” has been circulating on social media. Actually, the Nuremberg Code addresses the treatment of human subjects in medical experiments and says nothing about the use of tested and approved vaccines on patients.

Full Story

The code of medical ethics created in response to Nazi experiments during the Holocaust has been misrepresented by those pushing an anti-vaccine message during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is just the latest example of a falsehood aimed at discrediting vaccines during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2. Since April, we’ve debunked at least three other claims aimed at the same thing.

Now, Facebook pages dedicated to conspiracy theories and the anti-vaccine movement are posting claims that say, in part: “Vaccines are in direct violation of The Nuremberg Code.”

That’s not true.

The Nuremberg Code was written in 1947 during the trial in Nuremberg, Germany, of doctors who conducted medical experiments on more than 7,000 concentration camp prisoners during World War II. They tested ways to improve the chances of survival for Nazi soldiers in the field. They tested medical procedures and drugs. They conducted experiments to support their ideological view of racial superiority.

All of these experiments were done without the consent of the subjects.

That’s what the Nuremberg Code addressed — the treatment of human subjects in medical experiments.

“It’s about human experiments,” Jonathan Moreno, a medical ethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said of the Nuremberg Code in an email to FactCheck.org, emphasizing that the claim is false.

The code says nothing about the use of tested and approved vaccines or treatments on patients.

“The purpose of the code was to say that what the Nazi doctors did would never happen again,” George Annas, director of the Center for Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights at Boston University School of Public Health, said in an interview with FactCheck.org.

Both Moreno and Annas said that the code could not be interpreted to bar vaccination.

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