cancer trials

Critical gap in cancer trials in India, finds study

Several states in Northeast India had no registered clinical trials available to cancer patients from 2007 to 2021. A recent study revealed a disconcerting reality about India’s fight against cancer: Between July 2007 and December 2021, a mere 1988 cancer clinical trials were registered with India’s Clinical Trial Registry (CTRI). This figure pales in comparison […]


World AIDS Day: Debunking 4 myths about the disease

Research consistently indicates that individuals, irrespective of their age, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status, can be susceptible to the virus. World AIDS Day, designated on 1st December, is a global movement to unite people in the fight against the public health issue. As per latest data provided by the Joint United Nations Programme on […]

mental health

Explainer: How food insecurity affects mental health

Recent conflicts in Palestine, Ukraine and Congo underscore how the persistent uncertainty about the next meal’s source can cause chronic stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep issues. Nearly 70 per cent of the global population suffering from hunger reside in regions marred by war and violence. Recent conflicts in Palestine, Ukraine and Congo underscore how such […]


COVID-19 vaccine not the cause of unexplained sudden death among young adults: ICMR Study

Certain high-risk behavioural factors such as binge drinking, smoking and strenuous physical activity were found to be positively associated with unexplained sudden death. COVID-19 vaccination did not increase the risk of unexplained sudden death among young adults in India, states the latest Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study. On the contrary, the study finds […]


Fact-check: Japan hasn’t banned BHT due to health risks

BHT is a lab-made chemical that is permitted for use as a preservative in food products within specified concentration limits. There is a widespread rumour circulating on social media platforms that Japan has prohibited the sale of popular American cereals such as Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies. The purported reason behind this ban is the […]

umbilical cord

Delay umbilical cord clamping by two minutes to reduce premature baby deaths, says study

It allows blood to flow from the placenta to the baby whilst the baby’s lungs fill with air, potentially easing the transition into breathing. Waiting for two minutes or longer to clamp the umbilical cord of a premature baby likely reduces the risk of death soon after birth, according to two companion systematic reviews and […]

fried rice syndrome

Explainer: What is “fried rice syndrome”?

Bacillus cereus can exist on raw rice, and if it’s not stored or cooked properly, the bacteria can multiply and produce toxins that lead to food poisoning. An old viral video has resurfaced on social media platforms spreading fear and confusion about the risks associated with consuming unrefrigerated leftover foods. The video claims that a […]

Climate Change

370% rise in heat-related deaths by 2050 if climate goals unmet: The Lancet report

The 2023 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change highlights how the health of humanity is at grave risk. The 2023 report of the ‘Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: the imperative for a health-centred response in a world facing irreversible harms’, released earlier this week, provides a disturbing glimpse of […]

World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day 2023: Cut down on air pollution to reduce blood sugar levels

About one-fifth of the global burden of type 2 diabetes is attributable PM2·5 pollution. Air pollution mitigation can play an essential role in reducing the global incidence. In the midst of alarming air pollution levels and a steady surge in diabetes cases in India, a recent study finds that poor air quality is a substantial risk factor […]

Coconut oil

Fact-check: Coconut oil cannot cure Alzheimer’s, heart diseases

First Check studied over a dozen research papers published on the subject and found no conclusive evidence to support the viral social media claims. When viral social media videos hail coconut oil as the natural remedy for various health concerns, such as Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular diseases, it’s important to check the veracity of these […]


Fact-check: 3 myths about osteoarthritis

Globally, 15% individuals, aged 30 years or older, are affected by this degenerative joint disease. According to a recent study published in The Lancet Rheumatology, the global burden of osteoarthritis is expected to reach one billion by 2050. Based on data spanning three decades (1990-2020) from over 200 countries, the study found that 15% individuals, […]

UNESCO disinformation

UNESCO unveils action plan to regulate social media platforms to fight disinformation

The first World Conference of Regulators to be held in mid-2024; to mobilise dedicated funding, including one million Euros pledged by the European Commission. While unveiling an action plan to tackle online disinformation on November 6, 2023, UNESCO made a strong comment on the escalating proliferation of online disinformation and hate speech becoming “a major […]

Mental Health

Explainer: The toll of war on mental health

The mental scars of undergoing trauma, or even witnessing traumatic content online, can have lasting effects over one’s psyche that manifest in different ways. As the world navigates through another gruesome geo-political conflict, it’s important to remember that wars not only have devastating effects on economies and societies, but also on the lives of people. […]

Emergency contraceptive pills

Fact-check: Emergency contraceptive pills are safe

While they can be a powerful tool of women empowerment, there’s an urgent need for public awareness and access, coupled with efforts to promote gender equality in the reproductive sphere. A viral tweet – with three million views at the time of this writing – on the perils of using emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) claims […]

Explainer: Why long work hours are injurious to health

From cardiovascular disease and heightened stress levels, to depression, anxiety and compromised sleep quality, the impact of the hustle culture on physical and mental health is scientifically established.

sweet salad

Fact-check: Sweet salads don’t impact masculinity

The association of sweets with femininity has historically led to a stigma against male consumption of sweets. However, there is no evidence to support these claims. If a viral cartoon image being circulated on social media is to be believed, it’s important to keep men away from “sissy salads”. Sweetness and “masculinity”, supposedly, don’t go […]


AI can perpetuate harmful, debunked, racist ideas in healthcare: Study

A recent study highlights the potential dangers of integrating Large Language Models in healthcare systems without addressing inherent biases. A recent study published on npj Digital Medicine (Nature) highlights the potential dangers of integrating Large Language Models (LLMs) in healthcare systems without addressing inherent biases. At a time when artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly getting […]

The Deadly Rise of Anti-Science

Rise of anti-science movement claims millions of lives, warns researcher

In his book ‘The Deadly Rise of Anti-Science: a Scientist’s Warning’, Peter Hotez notes that health misinformation is organised, well-financed, and politically motivated. ‘The Deadly Rise of Anti-Science: a Scientist’s Warning’ by Peter Hotez, Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX, USA, is essential reading for out […]


Debunking 5 myths on Nipah Virus

In the digital age, information spreads like wildfire, often faster than the truth can catch up. While the world is grappling with various challenges, the Nipah virus has emerged as a cause for concern. Nipah virus, named after the Malaysian village where it was first identified in 1999, is a zoonotic pathogen, which means it […]

First Check Diaries by Tracey Nomatter Ruzengwe

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by science and the way it explains the functioning of the human body. During my high school days, I had a keen interest in biology, which helped me score A grades, both at ordinary and advanced levels. Later, this passion influenced my choice of […]


Fact-check: Vitamin C can’t ward off the flu

Vitamin C has long been of interest to medical experts and researchers for its role in supporting the immune system and its potential in preventing and treating infections. As the cold and flu season approaches, many individuals arm themselves with a familiar defense: pills, powders, and various forms of vitamin C. Does vitamin C actually […]


Explainer: How AI spreads health misinformation

AI-driven algorithms on social media platforms and websites often recommend content that promotes unproven treatments, conspiracy theories, and false information. As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to permeate our lives, a growing concern has emerged – the spread of misinformation, particularly in healthcare. Misinformation, fueled by AI, is a pressing issue that threatens the credibility of […]


Nipah virus infection: 10 facts

It’s important to be informed about the infection; don’t be swayed by fear mongering and misinformation. By First Check team Nipah virus infection is suspected to be the cause of two recent deaths due to fever in Kozhikode, Kerala. While the suspicion can only be confirmed once the test results from the National Institute of Virology […]


Fact-check: Want to become taller? Ashwagandha is not the answer!

Height is primarily determined by genetics, and the growth plates in the human body close after adolescence. If viral videos on YouTube are to be believed, ashwagandha – also known as Withania somnifera, an evergreen shrub used in Ayurvedic medicine – has the ability to increase one’s height. You can see some of the videos (in Hindi) here, here, […]


Fact-check: Papaya seeds not for contraception, inducing menstruation, or improving hormonal balance

Studies suggest that it’s best not to consume papaya seeds in any form. A viral video on Instagram claims that papaya seeds have myriad health benefits, including acting as a natural contraceptive, inducing menstruation, and reducing hormonal imbalance. However, there’s no scientific evidence to back any of these claims. While papayas are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and […]


The curious case of The Liver Doc & how it can impact health misinformation

Dr Cyriac Abby Philips’ X account was recently suspended, following an interim injunction order by an Indian court for defaming a multinational personal care and pharmaceutical company. He had it coming, says a colleague, as we discuss the suspension of Dr Cyriac Abby Philips’ X (twitter) account — @theliverdr. Last week, a civil court in […]


Fact-check: No harm in consuming bananas and milk together

They are good additions to support post-workout recovery for muscle and tissue repair. Is consuming milk with bananas bad for your health? The internet seems divided on the issue, even as many consider the combination to be a powerful post-workout meal. Bananas are an excellent source of energy and potassium, while milk provides a boost of proteins and calcium. […]


Hypertension affects one in three adults globally: WHO global report on hypertension

The first-of-its-kind, comprehensive analysis finds that currently, only one in five individuals with hypertension has their condition under control. Strengthening hypertension control programmes is crucial.  The World Health Organization (WHO) recently unveiled a first-of-its-kind report highlighting the devastating global impact of high blood pressure, a pervasive health issue often referred to as the “silent killer”. […]


Fact-check: Dietary choices, physical activity not the only determinants of weight gain

Maintenance of healthy body weight is also affected by one’s genetics, developmental history, physiology, age, environment, ethnicity, and social background. The magic weight loss formulas and quick fixes ride on the popular belief is that the dynamics of weight gain and loss revolve around the simple concept of calories consumed versus calories expended. Although it […]


Fact-check: The link between biodiversity and mental health

There’s an urgent need to prioritise the health of our ecosystems, not only for the preservation of biodiversity, but also as a public health measure of global importance.  In recent years, a growing body of scientific evidence has shed light on the intricate connection between biodiversity and mental health. In marginalised communities, grappling with the […]


Fact-check: Irradiated foods are not radioactive

During irradiation, gamma rays, x-rays, or high-energy electrons pass through the food, destroying or inactivating bacteria and viruses that cause foodborne illness. The recent news of Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and three Cabinet ministers eating a meal that included fish sashimi harvested off the shores of Fukushima has garnered worldwide attention. The Japanese government […]

First Check Diaries by Dr Arulchelan Sriram

Have you heard the popular folktale about Akbar and Birbal, the Mughal emperor and his ingenious advisor, that beautifully captures the human tendency to give (often useless, sometimes harmful) health-related advice? Birbal solicited opinions from onlookers as he stood at a crossroad with a bandaged hand. By noon, he had a long list of advisors, […]


Menopause: Shining light on vital facts

Numerous symptoms attributed to menopause often occur in the perimenopausal phase that encompasses years preceding the final menstrual cycle. The time that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles, aka menopause, is often shrouded in mystery and unscientific narratives. It is important to shine light on the vital facts so that women have access […]


Fact-check: Can the use of plastic food containers cause cancer?

The safety of storing food in plastic containers, typically, depends on the type of plastic and its intended use. When the question is about the safety of storing food in plastic containers – a common practice in many households – there is a growing sense of uncertainty. This can be attributed to the lack of […]


Fact-check: 5 common myths about conjunctivitis

Dr Vijitha S Vempuluru, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Ophthalmology, AIIMS Bibinagar, Telangana, India, helps set the record straight. India is currently witnessing the outbreak of a highly contagious eye infection called conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. While government health agencies and medical professionals are actively engaged in raising awareness about the condition, there are […]


Explainer: What causes high cholesterol?

Cutting down on the consumption of processed foods and processed meats, such as sausages, bacon and hot dogs, can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. A recent report by the World Health Organization, conducted in partnership with the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, has highlighted a substantial increase in the consumption of highly […]

drinking water

Fact-check: Higher water intake doesn’t assure weight loss

Overhydration can lead to water poisoning, intoxication, or disruption of brain function. By Florica Brahma It is commonly believed that drinking more water can help one lose weight faster. While it may help reduce calorie intake – as you feel fuller after consuming water – weight loss is not guaranteed. Currently available scientific evidence about […]

Alkaline water

Fact-check: Alkaline water can’t cure liver and kidney failure

While there are several claims made about the health benefits of alkaline water, medical research has yielded mixed results. A viral video (in Hindi) on Facebook claims that alkaline water made from vegetables can cure liver and kidney failure as well as several gastrointestinal problems. The video, which has garnered over 30 million views, suggests mixing ginger, […]

Mis Information

A good start: YouTube’s long-term vision for medical misinformation policies

The platform will streamline existing guidelines to fall under three categories – Prevention, Treatment, and Denial. By First Check team  As the threat of health misinformation continues to loom large across the globe, YouTube recently announced its long-term vision for medical misinformation policies on the platform. The video platform will start by removing content that […]

Explainer: What BMI can and cannot tell you about your health

Ideally suited for population-level studies, describing obesity by BMI can result in inaccurate assessment of adiposity. By Florica Brahma The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a metric system used to calculate body fat percentage by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by one’s height in meters squared. BMI = kg/m2. It was first introduced by Belgian […]


Fact-check: Debunking 3 myths about veganism

Proteins are not only found in meat and dairy products, but also in plant-based diets. As the world continues to tackle the growing challenges of climate change and global warming, veganism has emerged as a popular lifestyle choice. However, there are many misconceptions that prevail regarding vegan food choices. Here is a look at some […]


Kwashiorkor 101: Severe malnutrition common in developing countries

Distinguished by a profound lack of protein, this condition leads to fluid retention and an enlarged, distended abdomen. It is characterised by a fatty liver. Kwashiorkor, a form of edematous malnutrition, is trending on the internet. Here’s a quick look at what the disease entails and some common myths associated with the condition. “Kwashiorkor represents […]

health misinformation

Online harassment deters doctors from fighting health misinformation on social media: Study

We need comprehensive anti-online harassment tools and how-to guides designed for health workers in order to protect and equip them to combat the public health threat. From being called “The devil’s agent” to getting death threats on social media, Dr Ahmad Firdaus Mohd Haris, a practicing medical doctor based in Malaysia, has been the victim […]


Fact-check: Almond skins do not cause cancer

The skin of almonds is rich in fibre due to the presence of polyphenols that act as protective agents against cardiovascular diseases and cancers. A video on Facebook, with over 3 million views, featuring Jagdish Vasudev, popularly known as Sadhguru, claims that almond skin contains carcinogenic chemicals. People should consume almonds only after adequately soaking […]

Silver Linings

Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook has a silver lining

Even as the film highlights mental illness and its struggles, it falls short of an accurate portrayal of bipolar disorder and anger management. Silver Linings Playbook, a 2012 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by David O Russell, is based on Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel that goes by the same title. It has been […]


Explainer: Understanding ADHD

A common neurodevelopmental disorder, it calls for comprehensive understanding for effective management. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It is characterised by difficulties in inhibiting irrelevant stimuli for sustaining attention, stopping hyperactivity, and avoiding impulsive behaviours. It can significantly impact an individual’s daily functioning, academic performance, work productivity, […]

First Check Diaries by Tej Kumar

Have you heard of the condition where people find it hard to meet and interact with new people? It’s not about being shy or an introvert; the condition is called Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). As someone who has been coping with SAD for a while now, I was pleasantly surprised by my recent experience at […]


Fact-check: It’s time to rethink diabetes myths

Dr Maulik Patel, First Check member and consultant physician from Gujarat, India, helps debunk 5 myths associated with diabetes. Diabetes is a complex and chronic health condition. Often, comprehending the factors that contribute to or regulate blood sugar levels can be challenging. Therefore, misinformation about diabetes tends to proliferate.  Dr Maulik Patel, First Check member […]


Combatting health misinformation in the age of ChatGPT

Questions you can ask to ascertain whether the health information given by ChatGPT is accurate and reliable. Picture this: You are in search of a cure for sinusitis. Instead of checking with your doctor, you ask ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot, whether antibiotics can help. Voila! You have the answer, with a complete list […]


Explainer: Making informed decisions about hysterectomy

Depending on the individual case and the underlying condition, the uterus and other reproductive organs such as the cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes may need to be removed. Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that entails the removal of the uterus, which is the organ where a baby grows during pregnancy. Depending on the individual case […]

First Check

First Check bags Global Fact Check Fund award

IFCN awarded 35 organisations serving 45 countries with $25,000 each to strengthen the impact of their fact-checking projects. The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) on Thursday announced grant recipients from the Global Fact Check Fund’s BUILD phase, which aims to help fact-checking organisations scale or upgrade their online presence. First Check, DataLEADS’s flagship health fact-checking initiative, […]

Xeroderma pigmentosum

Fact-check: Xeroderma pigmentosum does not cause one’s skin to melt

XP affects the body’s ability to repair DNA damage caused by UV radiation from the sun. However, it does not cause dramatic changes in the skin as claimed on social media. A Facebook post claims that people in a village in Araras, Brazil, “melt away” due to a disease called Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP). The post […]


Fact-check: Antibiotics are not always needed to treat sinusitis

Dr Deepak XX, an ENT specialist at Civil Hospital, Rohtak, Haryana, India, helps debunk common myths about sinusitis. Sinusitis is a common condition wherein the tissue lining the sinuses (air-filled spaces within the bones between one’s eyes, behind the cheekbones, and in the forehead) becomes inflamed. Despite its prevalence across socio-economic sections of the society, […]

postpartum depression

Explainer: What is postpartum depression?

It can cause various physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms. Treatment may include psychotherapy, medication, or both. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that affects some women after giving birth. Also called “baby blues”, it can occur anytime within the first year after delivery; it usually starts within the first few weeks. PPD can […]


Movie review: Tully is an honest exploration of postpartum depression

The captivating movie dives deep into the rollercoaster of postpartum depression and many struggles of motherhood. Tully, a 2018 comedy-drama film, tells the story of Marlo, a mother of three (including a newborn), who hires a night nanny to help her cope with the challenges of parenthood. The film is based on the personal experience […]

Clove oil

Fact-check: Clove oil may provide temporary relief from toothache, but it can be toxic.

Using dried clove or clove oil may induce liver harm, acute infection, and gum discomfort. Clove oil, an aromatic essential oil obtained from clove plants, is a popular home remedy for toothaches. From Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioners to social media influencers, there’s no dearth of people who consider cloves to be a natural remedy […]

Diapers infertility

Fact-check: Diapers don’t cause infertility in male infants

Sperms are not produced until adolescence, and any potential effects from wearing diapers are likely to have dissipated by that time. Aarizo Jan, a new mother from Budgam district in Kashmir, India, was advised by her grandmother-in-law to avoid using diapers for her infant boy. She was warned that it could cause reproductive health issues […]

Skin donation

Fact-check : 5 prevalent myths about skin donation

Dr Maneesh Singhal, Professor, and Head of the Department of Plastic Surgery at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India, helps debunk common misconceptions about skin donation. Skin donation, once a seemingly sci-fi concept, has now become a crucial aspect of modern medicine. However, there are some common myths surrounding skin donation […]

Book review

Book review : Lady Doctors is an inspiring read

From fighting societal norms to improving access to healthcare and innovations in medicine, the ground-breaking work of women in medicine deserves more credit.  If the odds are stacked against you, the world seems unfair, or reality too bleak, Lady Doctors by Kavitha Rao is the dose of inspiration I strongly recommend. Published in 2021 by […]


Smoking: Myths vs facts

A scientific look at six common smoking narratives to sift the many myths from facts. The myths about smoking are so widespread that it is often difficult to recognise them. We accept them as facts because everybody seems to believe so. It’s time we take a scientific look at these common smoking narratives in order […]


Fact-Check: Bill Gates hasn’t scheduled the next pandemic in 2025

SEERS is a fictitious disease created for a pandemic-simulating exercise that was held in Brussels, Belgium, in October 2022. The next pandemic will hit us in 2025, claim several social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. The videos warn that an infection called Severe Epidemic Enterovirus Respiratory Syndrome (SEERS) will cause a public health […]

Menstrual Hygiene

Menstrual Hygiene: Debunking 5 common myths

Dr Shehla Jamal, a menstrual health expert from New Delhi, and Dr Naima Afreen a gynecologist from Azamgarh, India, help sift facts from fiction. World Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed on the 28th day of the fifth month of the year. However, efforts to spread awareness about this important issue must continue through the year. […]

deworming pill

Fact-check: Kids can be given deworming pill in all weathers

Deworming tablets, such as Albendazole and Mebendazole, can be taken at any time of year, and without the imposition of any dietary restrictions. A popular old wives’ tale in many parts of India claims that children should be given deworming medication only when the temperatures are moderate. That is, when the weather conditions are neither […]


Explainer: What is hypertension?

This World Hypertension Day, let’s manage blood pressure better with the right information and the right approach.  For this year, the theme of World Hypertension Day is ‘Measure your blood pressure accurately, control it, live longer’. In order to do that, we need to first understand what hypertension or high blood pressure actually entails. According […]


World Hypertension Day 2023: Important facts about high blood pressure

Dr Ashwani Mehta, a senior cardiologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, India, helps debunk some common myths regarding hypertension. May 17 is World Hypertension Day, a day dedicated to highlighting the importance of monitoring blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can cause damage to one’s blood vessels, making them stiffer and […]

menstrual cups

Debunking 4 myths about menstrual cups, tampons

Dr Shehla Jamal, a gynecologist and menstrual health expert from New Delhi, India, sets the record straight on the safety of using menstrual hygiene products.  Despite the many benefits that menstrual cups and tampons offer, there are numerous myths and taboos associated with the products that deter menstruators from choosing them. Dr Shehla Jamal, a […]


Fact-check: Shaving does not promote hair growth

It is a complex process influenced by various factors, such as the hair growth cycle, age, immunity, and vitamin intake. In many cultures around the world, the practice of tonsuring (shaving hair on the scalp) is a common phenomenon. Apart from the religious significance, it is widely believed that shaving promotes hair growth in infants, […]


Explainer: Why there’s no reason to fear people with dissociative identity disorder

Inaccurate portrayals of people with DID in mainstream media highlight tendencies towards violent or murderous impulse, and the lack of control over the other personalities. Have you ever met someone who can be Tom one minute and Jerry the next? We are not referring to mood swings, but to a mental health condition called dissociative […]

First Check Diaries by Walter Balane

As a journalist and radio broadcaster, fact-checking has become an integral part of my work. We need to check, verify, and counter-check facts, before using them in storytelling. My fact-checking journey started in 2019, after attending a training session. Soon, I started a pilot fact-checking initiative in our community news group. This was just before […]


Debunking 5 autism myths

Dr Apurva Kumar Pandya, Director of Parul Institute of Public Health and Faculty of Medicine at Parul University, Gujarat, India, shines a light on autism spectrum disorder, an oft-misunderstood group of conditions related to the development of the brain.  Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a condition related to brain development that […]

Health Hazard

Explainer: Why long nails are a health hazard

One of the primary concerns with long nails is the risk of germs and bacteria lurking beneath them.  Long nails are a popular fashion trend among celebrities and there is a surge in the number of people who enjoy the beauty and elegance of artificial nails, such as acrylic or gel nails. While the trend […]

Hot water + pineapple

Fact-check: Hot water + pineapple ≠ cancer cure

Bromelain could be a promising therapy for colorectal cancer. However, further research is essential to confirm its efficacy.  A social media post titled ‘Defeated Cancer’ claims that hot water infused with pineapple can cure any type of cancer, Since the post first went viral in August 2019, it has resurfaced in multiple languages, including English […]


Fact-check: Vaping not a safe alternative to smoking

There are potential long-term health risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are popularly perceived as a smoking cessation tool. Unlike combustible cigarettes, vaping devices don’t emit tar, reinforcing the idea that vaping is safer than smoking. However, their efficacy and safety as a quitting aid have not yet been firmly […]


Ivermectin influencer dead, but misinformation persists

Ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug, gained popularity as a means to prevent and treat COVID-19. “HAPPY FRIDAY TO ALL YOU POISONOUS HORSE PASTE EATING SURVIVORS!” posted Danny Lemoi on March 3, 2023 on his hugely popular pro-ivermectin telegram group, Dirt Road Discussions. Hours later, the resident of Rhode Island in the United States was found dead; […]

Processed food

Explainer: Why processed foods are harmful to health

Processed foods can lead people to consume more than the recommended amounts of sugar, salt, and fat, causing diverse health problems. Do you believe that packaged cereals, oatmeals, energy drinks, granola bars, flavour-infused yoghurts, protein bars, veggie chips, and so on are as healthy as home-cooked meals? If your answer is yes, you are in […]

First Check inducts four new members

First Check, the pioneering health fact-checking initiative by DataLEADS and a verified signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), has been at the forefront of battling this challenge. With the recent addition of four new members, the First Check network now comprises 53 medical professionals, researchers, journalists, and technologists from across the world.

Bridging the Gap: Making Health Information Accessible

have a question for you: What do you do when someone shares a glorious anecdote about a “miracle cure” or “quick fix” for a chronic health condition? Say, an unproven alternative therapy, sans the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, for cancer. Or, a home-made natural juice to prevent COVID or H2N3 flu. 

‘GPs have a crucial role to play’

In an email interview with Dr Siti, she sheds light on the Indonesian healthcare system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevailing health myths, and more. 

Perils of misleading health information | International Fact-Checking Day 2023

During the pandemic, unproven claims prevented people from taking vaccination against COVID-19 and significantly increased the risk of spreading the virus to the community. In Sri Lanka, people strongly believe that certain herbs and traditional remedies can cure serious illnesses like cancer and HIV/AIDS. This often leads to delay or evasion of proven medical treatments, thereby causing dire health consequences. 


First Check Diaries by Jisha Krishnan

Today is International Fact-Checking Day, promoted by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) in partnership with fact-checking organisations around the world. As a verified signatory of IFCN, First Check has been working resolutely towards making health fact-checking a part of the mainstream discourse. I have a question for you: What do you do when someone shares […]

World Bipolar Day: Raise awareness, eliminate social stigma 

World Bipolar Day is observed on March 30 every year, on the birthday of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh — one of the most influential artists in the history of Western art. His creativity was paralleled with his mental illness and he was posthumously diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Fact-check: Home-made juices no antidote for H3N2 flu

With H3N2 cases on the rise, the internet is rife with rumours and misinformation. Can home remedies protect individuals from this virus? Can those with severe acute respiratory infections or influenza-like illnesses count on home-made juices and concoctions to fight the ailment? 

Explainer: What teeth whitening can and cannot do

Looking for an effective teeth whitening solution? Learn what teeth whitening products can and cannot do for your oral hygiene. While they can enhance the appearance of your teeth, they cannot improve oral health. Consult a doctor before using over-the-counter products, and choose professional teeth whitening for safe and effective results. Plus, discover why yellow or creamy coloured teeth are normal and not necessarily unhealthy. Read on for more insights.

World Tuberculosis Day 2023: Debunking 6 TB myths 

Debunking Myths about Tuberculosis: Can it be cured? Does it affect only the lungs? How does it spread? Learn the facts about this infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Find out how long treatment takes, if it can recur, and more. Join the movement to end the TB epidemic by 2030, a key UN Sustainable Development Goal.

Fact-check: Soursop not an alternative for cancer treatment

There are multiple videos on YouTube claiming that Graviola, also known as soursop, is a ‘cancer fighting fruit’. However, medical experts warn against the use of this popular tropical fruit to treat cancer as there is lack of clear scientific evidence to support to this claim.

World Sleep Day 2023: The importance of getting quality sleep at night

Sleep-related Google searches are at an all-time high. How can I fall asleep faster? Why can’t I sleep? How much sleep do I need? These are some of the most-searched questions. This year, the theme for World Sleep Day – a global event aimed at raising sleep awareness – is ‘Sleep is Essential for Health’. It emphasises the importance of sleep for maintaining good health.

Fact-check: Sambar cannot prevent, cure colon cancer 

Does sambar, a popular South Indian staple, have anticancer properties that could be effective in preventing or treating colon cancer? Viral social media posts seem to indicate so. However, there’s little scientific evidence to back the claim. 

Explainer: Can artificial intelligence replace doctors?

This article explores the possibility of artificial intelligence (AI) replacing doctors in the future, and whether the job of future doctors will be similar to that of drivers in self-driving cars. While AI has the potential to greatly enhance healthcare, experts argue that it cannot replace the expertise and human connection that a doctor provides. A combination of AI and human healthcare providers may be the best approach for delivering high-quality, patient-centered care.

Debunking 5 menstruation myths 

Celebrate International Women’s Day by busting menstruation myths! From debunking the notion that girls who haven’t menstruated by a certain age are abnormal, to clarifying the role of exercise and dairy products during menstruation, First Check separates fact from fiction.

First Check Diaries by Dr Safieh Shah

During the early days of the pandemic, I had immigrated to Canada and was keen to contribute my skills as a humanitarian public health scientist with global experience, in a meaningful way. I first met the DataLEADS team at a conference I had co-organised with my Medicins Sans Frontieres colleagues in Delhi, India, to de-colonise […]

The Last of Us: Can fungi cause a global pandemic?

What if a parasitic fungus became a threat to humankind’s survival? That is the scary premise of ‘The Last of Us’, a popular American post-apocalyptic drama television series on HBO. But is there any science behind this fiction?

Explainer: Why binge-watching is harmful

Sitting on the couch with some munchies and watching your favourite shows, episode after episode, without a pause, may seem like a great stress buster. You feel pleased as your brain produces dopamine (the happy hormone), and the binge-watching continues. 

Fact-check: Smoking increases stress 

Are you feeling stressed and reaching out for a cigarette? Don’t! Here’s an eye-opener. Scientific data shows that smoking makes people more tense and anxious.

Fact-check: Eating pineapple doesn’t cause miscarriage

It’s commonly believed that consuming pineapple during pregnancy can lead to a miscarriage. There are YouTube videos, with millions of views, as well as articles in mainstream media advising expectant mothers to steer clear of the tropical fruit.

John Aloyzeus Reotuta

First Check Diaries by John Aloyzeus Reotutar

Once a victim of health misinformation, I know from my own experience that it can lead to grave mistrust and negatively impact public health. Even before the pandemic, health misinformation has been a serious challenge in the Philippines. Whether it’s the proliferation of fake news and false information on social media platforms or misleading advertisements […]

Fact-check: Social media filters can be injurious to health

Flawless skin, bigger lips, taut jawlines, and a pointed nose. What’s there not to like about social media filters? Medical experts across the globe are seeing an increase in body-image disorders, such as Snapchat dysmorphia, characterised by the compulsive need to heavily edit one’s digital image.

Fact-check: Eating sugar doesn’t cause diabetes

Diabetes, despite its prevalence, is a widely misunderstood disease. Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease, involving inappropriately elevated blood glucose levels.

Fact-check: Boiled Coca-Cola cannot cure fever, common cold

YouTube content creators who put out home remedies for health problems have a huge online following. A video on YouTube, for example, claims that a brew of heated Coca-Cola, honey, and ginger can help reduce body temperature as well as treat common cold.

The Mercury Project: Call for proposals

The Social Science Research Council announces USD $2 million grant for projects designed to increase demand for childhood vaccines, HPV, polio, measles, and COVID-19 in low- and lower-middle income countries. 

Fact-check: Beauty products, home remedies cannot make you fairer

It has been socially implanted that dark skin isn’t beautiful. There’s a flourishing industry of fairness products. Similarly, social media is rife with videos (examples here and here) promoting the fallacious notion that you can become fairer overnight, or over the course of a week. 

Book review: Dr Cuterus demystifies sexual health

Dr Tanaya Narendra aka Dr Cuterus does a neat 101 in her book Everything Nobody Tells You about Your Body on the human body, contraception, periods, birth control, safe sex, masturbation, pubic hair, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and everything that we are too embarrassed to talk about freely. 

Fact-check: Omicron BA.5 not ‘fatal for the brain’ 

It’s been three years since the COVID-19 pandemic hit our lives, yet the deluge of misinformation about the coronavirus refuses to subside. Recently, some ‘news’ articles in India claimed that the Omicron BA.5 subvariant can be fatal for the brain. The claim caused public panic. 

Dr Chandrika Kambam

First Check Diaries by Dr Chandrika Kambam

Happy New Year! As we enter 2023, the battle against misinformation has to get stronger. In today’s era of digitalisation, information spreads at the speed of light, and misinformation spreads even faster! The media, especially digital media, has been a boon in many areas. However, disseminating misinformation has been one of its biggest banes in […]

Think twice before mixing alcohol with energy drinks

With the New Year on the horizon, it is natural to want to toast to life, particularly for a world that has suffered through a deadly pandemic and its economic ramifications.

Saleem Samad

First Check Diaries by Saleem Samad

Almost three years ago, Bangladesh, like most countries, experienced a nightmare when the coronavirus infection turned into a pandemic. The deaths and infection rates were galloping at an unprecedented pace. Given the looming fear of death and miseries of infected patients, a significant number of people fell pray to conspiracy theories about COVID-19. It was […]

Fact-check: Acupressure no remedy for common cold

It’s that time of year again when runny noses and sore throats are a common occurrence. While medical science is yet to find a cure for common cold, there’s no dearth of quick fixes on social media.

Explainer: How is Tomato flu different from other viral fevers?

As many children are now presenting to paediatric outpatient clinics with viral symptoms, particularly fever and rash, the most common question pediatricians face is – how do we know if it’s tomato fever, dengue, Monkeypox infection, or hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD)? We are witnessing increasing panic amongst parents due to rise in new outbreaks, along with existing recurrent influenzae type illness. 

Health misinformation: Meta preparing post-pandemic policy

Facebook has been flooded with misinformation, unscientific claims and rumours about COVID-19, forcing the global technology giant to remove 25 million pieces of violative content as part of its content moderation policy. Now, as the virus is evolving, the company is considering whether it still needs to police content.

Fact-check: St. John’s wort not superior to antidepressants 

Depression is a common mental disorder that affects nearly 280 million people in the world, according to the World Health Organization. However, the stigma of the ailment, along with the many myths and misconceptions, deter patients from seeking timely care from qualified healthcare professionals.

Can men get breast cancer?

Biologically, both men and women are born with a small amount of breast tissue. It’s only during puberty that females begin developing more breast tissue, unlike their male counterparts. 

Explainer: Why excessive cleanliness may be injurious to health 

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have become increasingly paranoid about cleanliness. There is a growing tendency to purchase the strongest – and perhaps costliest – cleaning products, with taglines like ‘kills 99.99% germs’ and ‘kills novel coronavirus’.   

Fact-check: Milk + lemon not an instant remedy for piles

Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, is a common health problem that can lead to immense pain and discomfort. Caused by swollen, enlarged veins that form inside and outside the anus and rectum, one’s risk of haemorrhoids increases with age as well as weight gain, especially during pregnancy.

Fact-check: Ice is not the cure, it may relieve symptoms

A video on Facebook, claiming that ice can remedy a plethora of health issues, such as heel spur, swelling due to injury, migraine, back pain, cervical pain, frozen shoulders, sciatica, and indigestion, to name some, has garnered over 3.6 million views at the last count. 

Fact-check: Brain death is not a hoax 

Unscientific claims about brain death often deter people from organ donation. However, it’s important to know that there are strict medical criteria for organ retrieval.


First Check Diaries by Dr Manisha Arora Pandit

Like most people of my generation, I too have a fairly significant online presence. However, until recently I had no idea of the massive scaling effect of social media and its role in the spread of misinformation. Little did I know that health misinformation could have such a huge impact on our lives. COVID-19 exposed […]

Liver detox juice

Fact-check: Liver detoxes are futile

No super foods or special juices can detoxify a human liver. As the body’s natural detoxifier, the liver does not require any additional supplements to carry on with its normal function.

Dr Sameera Ranasinghe

First Check Diaries by Dr Sameera Ranasinghe

I was introduced to the world of fact-checking after working in the public health sector for more than eight years. Although health promotion was one of my fields of expertise, I had no idea that there existed a systematic methodology to detect false health claims and evaluate evidence critically in the public domain. It was […]

Fact-check: Monkeypox home remedies don’t hold water

There are multiple YouTube videos on home remedies for Monkeypox, comprising neem leaves, turmeric, ginger, cucumber, honey, corn starch and the like. However, there’s no scientific evidence to support these claims.

First Check Diaries by Qian Sun

It was late January, 2020. Amidst the catastrophic COVID-19 crisis in China, I landed in Delhi. Soon, I met Syed Nazakat (the founder and CEO of DataLEADS) and a conversation over coffee turned into a noteworthy collaboration that later went on to have a substantial impact on my professional life. I had come to India on […]

Abara Erim

First Check Diaries by Abara Erim

Health misinformation, I strongly believe, must be treated like a disease because it behaves like one. My experience during the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria in 2014 fuels my passion for infodemic management. I consider it my duty to make use of every avenue to reach out to the public in order to pre-bunk and debunk […]

Fact-check: Mother’s milk no substitute for vaccines

Vaccines are the most useful and lifesaving inventions in medical history. Beware of baseless claims that try to create panic and spread unscientific views on vaccination. A viral WhatsApp forward claims that “mother’s milk, fresh air, good sleep, good organic food and adequate exercise” are the “only vaccine we need” to fight COVID-19 and monkeypox. The message […]

Dr Ahmad Firdaus Mohd Haris

First Check Diaries by Dr Ahmad Firdaus Mohd Haris

“We’re not just fighting an epidemic, we’re fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus (COVID-19) and is just as dangerous.” – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO, at the Munich Security Conference 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines infodemic as too much information, including false or misleading information […]

Health misinformation: Each one spot one

With so much information at our fingertips todays, it’s hard to discern what’s true and what’s not. Can we trust everything we read on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram and other platforms? Particularly when it comes to quick fixes and magic cures for varied health issues.


Fact-check: Monkeypox is not a skin disease

A viral disease, monkeypox currently has no clinically proven cure – in allopathy or homeopathy. It is usually a self-limited ailment with symptoms lasting two to four weeks.

Dr. Rohini Karandikar

First Check Diaries by Dr. Rohini Karandikar

As a member of First Check, I feel like a warrior, fighting the infodemic. The pandemic showed us how people contracted,spread, or even succumbed to COVID-19 because they fell for false claims. However, COVID-19 is just one of the many catastrophes we have been battling. My fact-checking journey began in the year 2017, when I […]


Fact-check: ‘Natural’ remedies can’t cure asthma

A YouTube video claiming that home-based remedies can provide a ‘natural’ cure for Asthma, in the case of adults as well as children, has garnered over 80K views. The video basically makes four misleading claims about ways to beat Asthma, a major noncommunicable disease, and the most common chronic disease among children.


Flaxseed: No cure for thyroid problems

While flaxseed is a rich source of essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, more research is needed regarding the possible risks and benefits of consuming the plant-based food. 


No, marijuana cannot cure cancer

Studies have explored the possible benefits of medical marijuana on cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. 

skin cancer

Fact-check: Sunscreens don’t cause cancer

People use sunscreens to protect themselves from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays – the leading cause of skin cancers. An Instagram post, for instance, claims that sunscreens cause skin cancer as they block Vitamin D from the sun.


Fact-check: MSG is safe for human consumption

Despite several claims of adverse health effects of MSG, studies find that the widely used food additive does not pose any serious hazards to the body. 


Fact-check: ‘Green juice’ cannot cure cancer 

Juicing removes fiber from fruits and veggies; consuming them in a solid form is the healthier option. Fiber is known to be effective in preventing certain types of cancers, such as colon cancer.

Dr. Nicola Simone

First Check Diaries by Dr. Nicola Simone

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” – Ludwig WittgensteinBefore joining First Check, I was an independent fact-checker with a personal page on Facebook. When I saw my close circle of friends and relatives deal with confusion, anxiety, and panic as they followed the news on COVID-19 – many of which […]

Fact-check: Vaccinated people are not more likely to die of COVID-19

A viral tweet claims that “Government of Canada data shows the triple vaccinated are over 5x more likely to die of COVID-19 than the unvaccinated”. The tweet is based on an article from The Exposé, supposedly “run by extremely ordinary, hardworking people who are sick and tired of the fear-mongering, lies and propaganda perpetuated by the mainstream media”.

Don’t ignore period pain

Pelvic pain, just before and during menstrual period, is a common complaint. Many women resort to home remedies – mostly found on social media – to help manage the pain, without seeking medical opinion. 

Fact-checking: Why context matters

In other words, adjuvants are not as “dangerous” as the social media posts may have you believe. It’s important to also consider the context and not just the facts. 

‘There is no vaccine for the infodemic’

COVID-19 pandemic came with a flow of Covid misinformation, which compromises health decisions. While not all of the misinformation is shared with malicious intent, it undermines the importance of public reports based on research in global countries.

Step up the fight against misinformation 

The health misinformation crisis won’t end with the pandemic. It’s important for healthcare professionals to be well-versed with fact-checking. 

‘Scientific research must be easy to find & share’

As the fight against COVID-19 continues, the scientific community is fighting another battle too – the infodemic. This fight can be won only if trusted medical institutions and healthcare practitioners join forces. By John Aloyzeus Reotutar We live in a world where anti-vaxxers, quack doctors, and conspiracy theorists seem to thrive. Making an attempt to […]


First Check Diaries by Dr. Debanjan Banerjee

“We now live in a world where information is potentially unlimited. When information is cheap, meaning turns expensive.” – George Dyson I believe that every physician is inherently a fact-checker, even though we often remain unaware of it. Not taught in routine medical curriculum, not evaluated in clinical examinations and not popularized in regular medical […]

Uncovering 2 common infertility myths

One of the most common reproductive health myths is that young and (seemingly) healthy women do not have to face any infertility issues. However, many such women struggle with achieving pregnancy, despite trying to conceive for a year or more. That’s when we diagnose the couple – not the woman – as having infertility issues and we try finding out what could be the reason.

No home remedy to induce menstruation within an hour!

Given that irregular periods are a common challenge for many women, home remedies that claim to cure the problem are hugely popular. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that any such remedy can induce menstruation instantly.


Home remedies for migraine may not be effective

While tea is considered to be a go-to drink for coping with headaches, getting relief from migraine pain can be a challenge. It’s important to seek timely medical care.

lungs problem

Decoding the ‘COVID-19 lung’

A viral image circulating on social media platforms, demonstrating the difference between a ‘normal lung’ and ‘COVID-19 lung’, is causing much distress and panic. On Instagram, the image has 1000+ likes, so far. 

First Check inducts five new members 

A flagship initiative of DataLeads and signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network, First Check has 49 members from Australia, Africa, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom and Yemen.

World Cancer Day: Spread facts, not fear

Every year 4th February is observed as World Cancer Day – a day to raise awareness and strengthen the fight against the global cancer epidemic. It’s also important to address the ever-growing misinformation about cancer on social media.


Lessons in tackling health misinformation

Understanding how the internet and social media have changed out engagement with health (mis)information, and whether we, as individuals, can successfully evaluate veracity, is a vital task.

6 COVID-19 myths that refuse to die

A viral WhatsApp video, circulating in India, peddles old misleading claims about the coronavirus in an engaging way.

Beware of home remedies for asthma

While organic compositions of natural products, prepared under laboratory conditions, can complement the use of traditional drugs, homemade juices are unlikely to help one cope better with the chronic inflammatory disorder.

What The Fact! – The truth behind relentless pandemic struggles in the US

While the rest of the world is seeing a relative lull in new cases and a dip in the active COVID-19 cases, the United States continues to fight a grim battle – nearly a year after vaccinations began. And the anti-vaxxers are not letting up, even now.

Heart Disease

No miracle cures for the heart

YouTube videos advocate easy, home-based remedies that not only promise complete cure, but also prevention of future heart problems. However, there’s little scientific evidence to support any of the claims.

Bottle gourd juice can be toxic

Research has established that consumption of bitter bottle gourd juice can be life-threatening. Yet the popularity of YouTube videos hailing the many virtues of the detox drink continues unabated.

Smokers beware: No quick fixes to detox the lungs

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Despite social media posts declaring that “lungs can be easily detoxed after smoking” with homemade remedies, there’s no scientific evidence to support the claims.

What The Fact – India blames women for climate change woes

There is a sizeable section that peddles misinformation, mis-attributes natural calamities to everything but climate change, and spreads canards about menstruating and jeans-wearing women as being the cause of disasters.

vaccine misinformation

The Facebook Papers: How vaccine misinformation thrived

While Facebook claims to have made “considerable progress” with downgrading misinformation regarding COVID vaccines in users’ feeds, the internal company documents obtained by former Facebook product manager-turned-whistleblower raises pertinent questions about the platform’s business model and ethics.

Myths vs. facts about breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer, the world’s most prevalent cancer. Here’s debunking five common myths about the disease.

Factually Speaking: Decoding Ivermectin

There has been growing interest in Ivermectin, a broad spectrum anti-parasitic agent, as a possible medication for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. A biologist and researcher from Italy sheds light on the facts and misconceptions about the potent drug.

What The Fact! – When the data is misrepresented

It might compel people to believe that there is no pandemic, and that we are being lied to about the virus. And this, in turn, might make them lower their guard – and indulge in COVID-inappropriate behaviour.

Dismantled: Here’s COVID skeptics proven wrong

Ever since the start of the COVID pandemic, there have been skeptics, denialists, and even conspiracy theorists keen to prove the whole pandemic as balderdash or, worse, planned. First Check looks at, and dismantles one such long-drawn attempt.

Bitter gourd juice

Bitter gourd juice cannot cure diabetes

Contrary to what viral YouTube videos claim, studies show that there could be adverse effects of consuming bitter gourd daily. Experts warn against the possibility of toxicity due to overconsumption.

It’s okay not to be positive all the time

This World Mental Health Day, let’s aim for balance and the acceptance of all emotions, rather than black-and-white thinking. Research shows that emotional invalidation and psychological inflexibility are linked to anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and other mental disorders.

Why We Fact-Check Health Misinformation

It is important to focus on the context of online social networks, which have fundamentally changed the way information is produced, consumed, and transmitted.

Lemons are healthy, but they don’t cure cancer

Researchers have been studying anti-carcinogenic properties of limonoids in laboratories for years. However, they haven’t yet found any conclusive evidence to support its role in cancer treatment or prevention in humans.

COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines cannot be used to track people

Viral Facebook post in multiple South Asian languages falsely claims that Russian hackers now have access to the “exact GPS coordinates, sleep status, and more” of people vaccinated against COVID-19.

What The Fact! – Conspiracies, Concoctions and COVID

What drives the misinformation ecosystem is the lack of knowledge, fuelled by fear. If you believed what you read and watch on social media about vaccines – you will never take a vaccine, ever.

Herbal remedies can cause liver injuries

Popular herbal medicines for COVID-19 have been reported to adversely affect the liver and kidney – at times, even leading to death.

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.

First Check broadens its horizons beyond Asia

The flagship initiative of DataLEADS and signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) takes its battle against medical misinformation to the global arena.

Honey and onion juice cannot cure asthma

There is no cure yet for asthma. However, inhaled medications can control the disease, unlike home remedies that offer symptomatic relief at best.


Cold drinks don’t lead to miscarriage in pregnant women

While studies show that carbonated, artificially-sweetened soft drinks are harmful in several ways, there’s no evidence to support claims made by a viral YouTube video about it causing miscarriage in women.


Use of alum powder and turmeric powder, mustard oil can’t prevent Mucormycosis

Two YouTube videos with thousands of views claiming use of alum powder, turmeric powder, rock salt can prevent the growth of mucormycosis are misleading and the claims in the videos are false. There is no scientific research to suggest that herbal remedies prevent or treat mucormycosis.

Pushpita Dey

What may cause mucormycosis, experts explain

A WhatsApp message claiming that humidity caused due to use of masks causes Mucormycosis (black fungus) is misleading. Experts highlight that people with poorly managed diabetes and a weak immune system are at a high risk of mucormycosis.


WhatsApp forward claiming ‘Vaccinated People Will Die in 2 Years’ is untrue

A widely-circulated message attributed to French virologist Luc Montagnier claims that all vaccinated people will die in 2 years due to antibody-dependent enhancement. Dr. Rohini Karandikar, a science writer at the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) and member of the Indian Scientists’ Response to COVID-19 team, lays bare the facts.

Remdesivir injections

Real vs fake Remdesivir injections: Know the difference

An injection named Covipri is circulating on social media, with many referring to it as the Remdesivir injection. Here’s all you need to know how to differentiate between real and fake Remdesivir injections

Covid-19 pandemic

Starting a steam inhalation drive will not end the pandemic

As India is witnessing a surge in cases, preventions and cures for Covid-19 are getting wide popularity on social media. We at First Check have received a WhatsApp message from multiple sources within a span of 4-5 days promoting and convincing people to start a steam inhalation initiative. It also urges people to forward the message twice or thrice daily.

Videos promoting COVID-19 conspiracies are re-emerging despite a crackdown

A year after the pandemic, the conspiracy theory that coronavirus is a hoax and that Bill Gates and Dr Fauci are behind it is again gaining popularity. Animated videos and adapted cartoon characters from cartoon series are being used this time. However, there is no evidence to support the claim.

COVID-19 vaccination: Beware of bogus dos & don’ts

While proper nutrition and hydration are essential for good health, there’s no evidence to support claims made by a WhatsApp forward to reduce the side effects of vaccines. 

Are DIY disinfectants safe?

Youtube is awash with how to disinfect surfaces and many people have resorted to trying to make their own disinfectants by watching viral do-it-yourself (DIY) videos and YouTube tutorials. But mixing chemicals in the wrong proportion can at best create an ineffective product – and at worst result in poisoning. 

Pfizer vaccine

Misleading WhatsApp message questions Pfizer vaccine efficacy

A recent WhatsApp message presented a series of arguments discrediting the claimed 95% efficacy of Pfizer vaccine. The message is partly correct, but it is misleading people by claiming that the clinical trial was conducted on a selected group of participants aimed for optimal results.


This tonic of leaves cannot cure HIV

There is no scientific evidence to prove that a health drink made of Indian date leaves, sacred fig leaves, and Cynodon leaves can cure HIV

Three-pronged approach to fight the infodemic

Misinformation and rumours are three times more likely to be spread on social media as compared to accurate information. We need to adopt evidence-informed measures from a transdisciplinary perspective to win the battle against this parallel pandemic.


No, incense sticks do not ward off Covid-19

A popular YouTube channel claims that smouldering incense sticks can ward off coronavirus and that there is no need to get vaccinated for coronavirus as the positive energy from incense sticks can cure Covid-19. The claim is false and has no scientific evidence.

Can COVID-19 hygiene measures cause cancer?

Here is what Google Trends say on what was most searched when Covid-19 was at its peak in 2020 By Nabeela Khan The pandemic brought along with it a few health protocols – recommended by the WHO and the CDC, as also various governments. Wearing a mask, washing hands regularly with soap, use of infrared […]

Covid vaccine scams hit Asia

Fraudsters in Asia are sending out fake texts, offering a Covid vaccine or registration for the vaccine in an attempt to steal personal and financial information. By Nabeela Khan At a time, when vaccines are being rolled out all around the world, people are eager to receive vaccines. But the process of vaccinating millions of […]


Can red ant chutney cure Coronavirus?

Multiple Facebook posts claim that red ant chutney (sauce) is the divine medicine for coronavirus. We fact-checked the claim and found the origin of this statement. There is no scientific evidence yet to prove it as a possible cure.


No, six-minute walk is not a test for COVID-19

The recent misinformation trending on social media is the six-minute walk test which is performed by doctors on Covid patients to further evaluate the condition of heart and lungs.

Fact-checking medical misinformation

Top fact-checkers from Asia share personal stories, deep insights, and practical tips to tackle the avalanche of health fake news at the Misinformation in Medicine Summit 2020. 

Debunking 6 viral claims about COVID-19 remedies

There’s no dearth of posts on social media platforms claiming to have found the cure for the coronavirus. Here’s one in Hindi that makes not one, but several claims about COVID-19 cures and prevention.

Three common myths about polio vaccine

Myths about the polio vaccine continue to reappear. This World Polio Day, we debunk the most common myths about the polio vaccine.

Drinking tea is not a cure for Covid-19

Claims about tea being a cure for COVID-19 have been doing the rounds since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak. While the popular drink may be beneficial for health in general, it certainly doesn’t have any curative powers against the deadly virus. 

Myths about polycystic ovary syndrome and why they’re misleading

Since polycystic ovary syndrome is not well understood, there is widespread misinformation about this condition.  Misinformation can impact its diagnosis leading to assumptions and generalisations in the absence of facts. 

No, Vicks VapoRub will not help in reducing belly fat

There is no scientific evidence to prove that Vicks VapoRub, a topical ointment used for nasal congestion and cough can melt away belly fat and eventually lead to weight loss. The claim is false.

Unproven COVID-19 treatment list circulates on Whatsapp

A photo of a list of treatments claiming to have been recommended to “patients recovering from the hospital” along with a listing of symptoms is circulating on WhatsApp in India. The claims are false with unsubstantiated remedies.

No, homemade concoctions may not help in passing kidney stones

A Youtube video claims that a concoction of onion, cumin, sugar crystals and lemon will help pass kidney stones. But there is no evidence to prove that this mix of ingredients can cure or help in passing kidney stones. The claim is false.

No, washing hands with lemon will not protect you from Covid-19

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 10 fake claims citing the medicinal properties of lemon or drinking hot lemon juice or mixing lemon with soda, tea have been doing rounds. A new claim saying that washing hands with lemon juice can protect from coronavirus is unsubstantiated. We found that there is no study or data to back up this claim.

100 fake COVID-19 WhatsApp forwards that we almost believed

The spread of dubious claims and false information during the coronavirus outbreak has been rapid on the popular messaging platform – WhatsApp. Here, with the help of our team of doctors and fact-checkers, we debunk the hundred most widely circulated and harmful content and claims related to COVID-19.

Trends in Covid-19 misinformation in India

Amid an unprecedented global health crisis, health journalists faced a double whammy – one to report effectively on the pandemic and the other to fight the tide of misinformation which spread faster than the virus itself. Here is an analysis of how fake news hit India at various stages during Covid-19.

Why a lot of Covid-19 infographics are wrong?

There is a lot of data visualisation about COVID-19 which can be misleading. We identified five common mistakes in data visualisation and how one can spot them.

10 Twitter posts on Covid-19 that mislead the world

We’ve been looking at some of the most widely circulated posts on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter since the start of the pandemic. This week, we have compiled and debunked the 10 claims that are currently circulating.