A video is getting viral on Facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube claiming that COVID-19 is the biggest scandal in the history of mankind. But all the claims are false.
By Varadarajan Ananthakrishnan
A video received on WhatsApp claims that coronavirus is like any other flu and there is nothing to fear. The doctor in the video, Dr. Tarun Kothari also claims that all the COVID-19 figures from the whole way across the globe are only a hoax and it’s not a pandemic. In order to check the claim, we first searched for his affiliation. The search results didn’t yield any convincing results about his affiliation. In fact, search results say that he is a radiologist.
Throughout the video, he has explained how all the safety measures that are being propagated are not effective. And the information is aimed at providing a false sense of safety.
Since he has made many claims in the video, we have listed all the claims below and will be explaining them in detail.
Claim: It is a simple flu-like common cold.
Fact: It is not. Common cold or the seasonal cold is caused by influenza viruses while COVID-19 is caused by novel coronavirus - SARS-CoV-2. Though the symptoms for both can appear to be similar, coronavirus can be more lethal than the seasonal flu. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than flu. COVID-19 can quickly and easily spread to a lot of people and result in continuous spreading among people as time progresses.”
Claim: Coronavirus is not a pandemic. It is just being made out to be one.
Fact: WHO defines a pandemic as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”. Since the coronavirus infection has affected more than 200 countries worldwide, with the number of cases more than 22 crores, and deaths nearly 8 lakhs, the coronavirus is definitely a pandemic.
Claim: Masks make you ill, and builds carbon dioxide in your body.
Fact: This can be true if the masks are not fitting properly or if the masks are not worn properly. Masks with a proper fit ensure proper airflow while offering protection for nose and mouth. We asked our fact check member Dr. Maulik Patel, consultant physician at Divine Life Hospital and Managing Director at Medicaid Healthcare LLP in Kutch, India. He said “the dose of carbon dioxide we might rebreathe is quickly and easily eliminated by both respiratory and metabolic systems of the body. Carbon Dioxide itself is a respiratory stimulant that blows off carbon dioxide first by increasing breathing rate. Patients with severe fibrotic lung disease or OSA who require oxygen may find some discomfort but the viral transmission is more problematic than the negative effect of wearing masks.“
Claim: Alcohol-based hand sanitizers increase alcohol levels in the blood.
Fact: There is no evidence to support this claim. According to WHO, the alcohol found in the blood after the use of alcohol-based sanitizers is of negligible levels. We also found a study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine which said, “the results of this study demonstrate that use of ethanol-based hand sanitizers does not raise serum blood ethanol levels.” The participants applied 5 mL of sanitizers to both hands d 50 times over 4 hours.
Claim: Bill Gates is behind the pandemic. He has sinister plans for the world
Fact: This has been the most enduring fantasy story since the pandemic began. He has been accused of being behind a plan to implant trackable microchips. It is just a rumour without any basis that is going viral on social media. These conspiracy theories have been fact-checked while Bill Gates has, himself denied these claims and has hoped that “they die down”.
Claim: Tuberculosis kills more than COVID-19. Why is this new virus given so much importance?
Fact: While both tuberculosis (TB) and COVID-19 are lethal and life-threatening, especially for a country like India, the fact is that TB is curable and has medicines, while coronavirus does not have a cure or a vaccine yet. Also, TB is caused by bacteria whereas COVID-19 is caused by a virus. While antibiotic drugs usually kill bacteria, they aren't effective against viruses.
There will be misinformation about this pandemic, and more theories will follow. With social media being what it is, the spread of misinformation goes on unfettered, relentless, and unstoppable. It is important to be informed, and cross-check with scientific and authoritative sources before believing any information that you come across.
Covid-19 is not a scandal; it is a pandemic and WHO recommends washing hands, following good respiratory hygiene, staying home, and self-isolating even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover.