Fact Check: Do the COVID Vaccines Contain Scopolamine, a Potentially Fatal Narcotic?

A widely shared article from Real Raw News, which describes itself as an “independent publisher” that “explores content often avoided by the mainstream media,” claims that “The U.S. military has found the drug scopolamine in Covid-19 vaccines.”

This is a false claim.

According to the article: “Scopolamine is known by several names, most notably hyoscine, burundanga, ‘Devil’s Breath,’ and ‘the Zombie Drug.’ Derived from nightshade plants, it gained notoriety in Columbia where the criminal element uses it to drug naïve, careless tourists. … On the internet stories abound of bar-hopping tourists chatting up local ladies, passing out, and waking up 3 days later—only to find they were robbed, and their bank accounts drained. Some never regain consciousness.”

Scopolamine is a hallucinogen and potentially fatal narcotic known as burundanga, or by its street name “devil’s breath.” It’s typically derived from a poisonous flower, referred to as angel’s trumpet. As Encyclopedia Britannica explains: “All parts of angel’s trumpets are considered poisonous and contain the alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. Ingestion of the plants can cause disturbing hallucinations, paralysis, tachycardia, and memory loss and can be fatal.”

In an email to The Dispatch Fact Check, Ryan Marino, medical toxicologist and assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, explained that “Scopolamine is an antimuscarinic alkaloid (similar to diphenhydramine and other first-generation antihistamines) that is used for nausea/vomiting and motion sickness.”

“It is an FDA-approved therapeutic medicine, however, it remains the subject of urban legends which usually claim it is being used to drug people with malicious intent,” Marino added. “It is not contained in any of the COVID vaccines.”

In addition to claiming that the vaccines contain scopolamine, the article also references its own false reporting from May: “In May, Real Raw News reported that White Hats found and destroyed a Moderna warehouse; vaccine ampules obtained from the warehouse had pesticides.” 

We have previously fact checked the false claim that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines contain pesticides, noting that none of the reported “pesticides” are listed as ingredients in the Moderna vaccine. Infectious diseases specialist and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine professor William Schaffner also noted in an interview with The Dispatch Fact Check, that if the claim were true, the vaccine “wouldn’t pass the Food and Drug Administration’s minimum standards for manufacturing.”

In an email to The Dispatch Fact Check, Gill Curtis, a spokesperson from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: “According to CDC there is no evidence of scopolamine in COVID-19 vaccines.”

Similarly, a spokesperson for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called the claim that COVID-19 vaccines contain scopolamine “completely false.”

Furthermore, scopolamine is not listed as an ingredient in either the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or the Moderna vaccine.

Finally, as we have noted before, Real Raw News, has a disclaimer on its website that reads: “Information on this website is for informational and educational and entertainment purposes. This website contains humor, parody, and satire. We have included this disclaimer for our protection, on the advice on [sic] legal counsel.”

Real Raw News has a history of promoting false and conspiratorial claims, particularly about fake arrests and executions. 

If you have a claim you would like to see us fact check, please send us an email at factcheck@thedispatch.com. If you would like to suggest a correction to this piece or any other Dispatch article, please email corrections@thedispatch.com.

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