Social media is abuzz with a video of doctors claiming that “COVID-19 is a normal flu virus” and the world is no longer dealing with a pandemic. In a 4-minute-long viral clip the doctors make several unsubstantiated claims which is now being circulated by users claiming that these are WHO doctors who have taken a complete “U-turn” on their finding about the novel coronavirus.
However, we found that the doctors seen in the video are not affiliated with the World Health Organisation (WHO). They are a group of healthcare professionals who call themselves the World Doctors Alliance and the claims made by them in the video are false and misleading.
Doctors in the aforementioned video have made several claims ranging from stating that COVID-19 is a flu virus to calling for a boycott of the vaccine. Speaking for the group, a certain Dr Elke De Klerk says, “We do not have a pandemic”.
She goes on to state that the novel coronavirus is a flu virus and that the group will initiate a lawsuit with more doctors and about 87,000 nurses who do not want the COVID-19 vaccine. De Klerk further questions that if there is no pandemic why are children being forced to wear masks to school.
The group also states that panic around the virus has been created because of the false-positive PCR tests. “89 percent to 94 percent of these PCR tests are false positive,” Elke De Klerk states.
Another speaker in the video then claims that in Ireland 98 people have died due to coronavirus since April 2020. She says that in Ireland 30,000 people die every year. Out of this, 10,000 die of cardiovascular diseases, 10,000 of cancer.
“The 98 deaths were preventable. However, what we are now seeing is that more people will die of cancer because of the stringent lockdown policies,” she says.
Similarly, other doctors on the panel then go on to state that the lockdown was a “monumental disaster” and has not helped in any way whatsoever.
WHAT WE FOUND
The first speaker in the video mentioned that her name is Elke De Klerk. We searched for her on Google and found that she is a member of a group of healthcare professionals called World Doctors Alliance. We visited the website of this group and found that other panellists seen in the video are also members of this group.
The World Doctors Alliance as per its website is a “non-profit alliance of doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and staff around the world who have united in the wake of the COVID-19 to end all lockdowns and related damaging measures.”
Is COVID-19 a Pandemic?
The first false claim in the video comes right at the beginning when Dr Klerke dismisses COVID-19 pandemic as a hoax.
According to the WHO, a pandemic is defined as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”. When Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on 11 March, there we 1,18,000 cases of virus recorded in 114 countries and nearly 4000 people had died.
At the time of filing this report, according to the Johns Hopkins University, there are 43 million cases of novel coronavirus across the globe which have resulted in 11,53,857 deaths.
Further, the claim made in the viral video regarding the number of COVID deaths in Ireland is also False. While one of the speakers claims that 98 people have died in the country after being infected by the novel coronavirus, data provided by Johns Hopkins University mentions that there 57,128 cases of coronavirus in Ireland more than 1800 people have lost their lives.
Novel Coronavirus vs Influenza
Another claim made by Dr Klerke who identifies herself as a general practitioner representing the Netherlands is that the novel coronavirus is not very different from the flu virus and hence there is no need to panic. Even this is a false claim. While COVID-19 and influenza have similar symptoms as both cause respiratory disorders and are transmitted by contact, there are several dissimilarities between the two.
According to data provided by WHO, speed of transmission of influenza is faster than COVID-19 while the reproductive number – the number of secondary infections generated from one infected individual – for COVID-19 is understood to be higher than that for influenza.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention also states that while there are multiple FDA-licensed influenza vaccines produced annually to protect against the flu viruses, currently there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
In addition to flu-like symptoms, the novel coronavirus results in complications like blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart, legs or brain.
The Case of False Positive PCR Tests
Dr Elke De Klerke suggests that “89 to 94% of PCR tests are false positive” and doctors have now stopped using the method to test individuals for COVID-19. This is a misleading statement.
Experts across the globe have identified the pros and cons of PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction testing. This report by The Hindu states that PCR testing is a boon because it accurately detects the presence of the virus but a bane because it is prone to false-negative and false-positive results. A false positive is a test result that is wrong because it indicates the person is infected when they really are not.
However, according to a blog published on the website of Harvard Medical School. a molecular test (also called PCR tests, viral RNA tests, nucleic acid tests) using a deep nasal swab is usually the best option because it will have fewer false-negative results than other diagnostic tests or samples from throat swabs or saliva.
Clearly, no tests for COVID-19 are100 percent accurate because of new information about the virus coming to fore every day. Despite that global healthcare experts believe that a molecular test is so far the most reliable testing method.
About Masks & Vaccines
Among other claims made in the video are conspiracy theories which say that masks do not prevent COVID infection and there is no need for a vaccine. The Quint has earlier with the help of experts, debunked several false claims around wearing face masks to prevent the novel coronavirus infection.
Similarly, several studies have suggested that misinformation around coronavirus vaccine also continues to thrive on the social media platforms. A report by The Guardian pointed out that Facebook has become the epicentre of a lot of this vaccination-hate.
Evidently, a video message by a group of doctors riddled with misinformation is being massively shared on social media with a claim that the World Health Organisation has backtracked on its finding regarding the novel coronavirus.
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