Debunking three controversial COVID-19 claims

Debunking three controversial COVID-19 claims


A YouTube channel called ‘Unmask Express’ has been consistently making unscientific claims about the vaccines against COVID-19, RT-PCR tests and the existence of the coronavirus itself! First Check sets the record straight.

By Tej Kumar

Dr. Sachin Pethkar, a Pune-based Ayurvedic physician and entrepreneur, is the face of ‘Unmask Express’, the YouTube channel that has garnered a lot of buzz due to its controversial claims about COVID-19. While the channel has been consistently making unscientific health-related claims, here are some of the most harmful assertions that First Check decided to sift through based on our readers’ requests:

#Claim 1: A video claims that there is no coronavirus. The cough, sneezing, breathlessness and indigestion are due to dryness in mucus.

 Fact: There is a medical difference between COVID-19 and the seasonal flu. For starters, the mortality rate associated with the seasonal flu is less than one per cent of those infected, while it is about 3.4 per cent in the case of COVID-19.

Dr. Swaroop Kanth, ENT Surgeon, Government Medical Hospital, Vijayawada, further noted, “Dryness in mucus is often triggered by environmental/weather changes. However, the autonomous nervous system is equipped to handle these seasonal changes without much distress. However, when some alien species (viruses, bacteria) enter the system, it calls for dedicated course of action – which in some cases, many entail getting an ICU bed. COVID-19 is not the same as a seasonal flu.”


#Claim 2: A video claims that mRNA vaccines induce spike proteins, which will cause cytokine storms in the human body.

Fact: There is no scientific evidence to suggest that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines or non-mRNA COVID-19 vaccines result in cytokine storms or the overproduction of proteins called cytokines, which can result in damaged lung tissue, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and death.

As pointed out by the CDC report, mRNA vaccines are safe. They have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) and that’s how scientists could quickly begin designing the mRNA instructions for cells to build the unique spike protein into an mRNA vaccine.


#Claim 3: A video claims that the primer designed for the RT-PCR test is old and can detect any virus as coronavirus.

Truth: Primer is a small segment of nucleic acid amplifying testing. Whenever the reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR is done, this primer gets attached to the virus’ genome and helps detect the virus. Also, it is recognised as one of the most reliable tests to detect coronavirus as per WHO.

Dr. Pallavali Roja Rani, a virologist and specialist in microbiology, VRDL lab, Kurnool Government Medical College, stated, “Primer in RT-PCR keeps updating with new genome sequencing. Hundreds of virologists work in the lab every day to find out the genome sequences of coronavirus, and based on that, the primer in the RT-PCR is designed. It can easily differentiate the SARS-Cov2 genome from other virus genomes”.


Trust facts based on science and not half-baked claims. Join First Check in the fight against medical misinformation.