One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts.
One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts during Senate Estimates at Parliament House in Canberra. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP IMAGES

Senator’s post on ‘undisclosed’ vaccine ingredients an ill-conceived formula

AAP FactCheck January 19, 2022

COVID-19 vaccine ingredients are not disclosed.


False. Vaccine ingredients are listed on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website and elsewhere. By law, manufacturers must publish these ingredients.

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts has opened up a bag of misinformation, claiming potato chips come with ingredient lists while vaccine ingredients are kept secret.

The Queensland senator’s claim is false. Vaccine ingredients are freely available online. Ingredients of COVID-19 vaccines must be published by law and can easily be found on the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) website.

On January 13, Senator Roberts tweeted: “How is it that vaccine ingredients are not disclosed & yet a simple packet of potato crisps in supermarket MUST have the ingredients listed by LAW?”.

In correspondence with AAP FactCheck, Senator Roberts’ office made it clear that his tweet related to COVID-19 vaccines. 

Senator Roberts’ claim is easily disproved. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – Australia’s regulatory body for medicines and medical goods – publishes details of all approved COVID-19 vaccines in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

The ingredients for COVID-19 vaccines are listed in the “consumer medicines information” product sheets for each respective vaccine (see here, here and here). Additionally, a list of ingredients in each of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines is published on this TGA webpage.

The Department of Health told AAP FactCheck in an email that all medicine ingredients must be disclosed in accordance with the Therapeutic Goods Act. For prescription medicines such as COVID-19 vaccines, ingredients must be listed in both product information and consumer medicines information documents.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers also publish vaccine ingredients on their company websites (see here, here and here).

Healthdirect, a website funded by Australia’s federal, state and territory governments, says the ingredients of COVID vaccines vary depending on the product but may contain some of the following:

  • a protein component of a virus;
  • a piece of genetic code (DNA or mRNA);
  • a very small dose of a weakened virus;
  • a substance to boost the immune response (known as an adjuvant);
  • sterile salt water (saline) for injections;
  • a small amount of preservative or stabilisers to ensure vaccines stay effective following storage and transportation. 

Queensland Health’s website explains the ingredients of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines in more detail, breaking down the core components of each vaccine into groupings such as salts, lipids and preservatives. Many of the ingredients used in COVID vaccines “are also commonly found in your pantry”, it says, while some ingredients are used to help the vaccine last longer in storage.

When contacted by AAP FactCheck, a spokeswoman for Senator Roberts accepted the list of ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines were publicly available on the TGA website but claimed in an email there was “limited to no disclosure around the ingredients and the impact of those ingredients with patients, in line with the expectations of informed consent”.

However, consumer information documents for the various vaccines provide lists of both common and rare side effects following vaccination (see example here, page 3).

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Karen Price said COVID-19 vaccine recipients must provide informed consent before receiving their injections, and this included being notified of potential side effects.

“It is not practical to list every ingredient in the vaccines to all patients and it would serve no useful purpose in doing so. A vaccine is very different to a ‘simple packet of potato crisps in a supermarket’,” Dr Price told AAP FactCheck via email.

The Verdict

Senator Roberts’ claim that COVID-19 vaccine ingredients are “not disclosed” is incorrect. The ingredients of approved COVID-19 vaccines must be published by law and can easily be found on various websites, including from the TGA.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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