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On November 4th bioluminescence got an unprecedented amount of publicity. The word ‘luciferase’ was even trending on twitter! You’ve heard the phrase ‘all press is good press’ but… we may have found an exception. 🙈

The tweet below was published Emerald Robinson, a White House correspondent for NewsMax, claiming that COVID vaccines contain luciferase, and that the luciferase molecule is how the vaccines track people. Of course, NONE of this is true. Her account has since been taken down by Twitter for violating their misinformation policy.

1. Vaccines do not contain luciferase or luciferin (can you imagine if they did - if there was more demand for these molecules we’d seriously be in business!)

2. Vaccines are not used to ‘track people’ and if they were, luciferase would not help much with that.

To quote this Forbes article, “Just because Uranus sounds like your you-know-what doesn’t mean that the planet is made out of poop. Similarly, luciferase enzymes have very little to do with Lucifer.”

Note: luciferase is the enzyme responsible for bioluminescence and is what we use in the Light Wand! I did some digging to try and understand why Emerald would think this was true, and found an article she wrote outlining where the information was from. In fact, there is a shred of truth to the whole ‘luciferase as a tracker molecule’ vein of thinking - but it has been taken so far out of context that it is completely incorrect in relation to ‘vaccines being used to track people’ claims. So, where is this shred? Sometimes in a lab, a luciferase protein will be attached to a ‘molecule of interest’ in order to ‘track it’ or measure it. This is a common practice in the lab, although more often fluorescent proteins are used rather than bioluminescence. But that is besides the point - this is an example of how a non-expert did a bit of reading into a subject completely foreign to them, read some words that alarmed them, and then took them completely out of context. Yes. Luciferase is used for molecule measurements and ‘tracking’. No. You cannot track a human beings with luciferase - imaging in the lab requires specialized equipment, preset conditions, and only works for very small molecules, not ENTIRE HUMAN BEINGS. Also, if the vaccines actually contained luciferase, it would be promptly destroyed by the immune system. Definitely not the best tracking mechanism. This story got the term ‘luciferase’ trending on twitter for a few days, and was picked up by major news outlets around the world. From the Daily Beast , Forbes , Vanity Fair , and the Independent. This kind of misinformation from a source trusted by many causes more vaccine hesitancy that can hamper all the progress made during the past few months of the pandemic. It also really speaks to the dangers of anti-science rhetoric and distrust of expert opinion. This was not just some random person, this is a person with a platform and verified twitter account whom many look up to as a trusted source of information. They are a White House correspondent people trust with relaying important and truthful information.

As much as we love bioluminescence and luciferase … this is not it. Well. This has been a wild day - love to see bioluminescence getting its time in the limelight though. Maybe we should name our next product the Morning Star? Take care out there!

Paige, Founder of Nyoka


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