A harmful side effect of the Coronavirus pandemic is not just the virus, it is the fake news and conspiracy theories that accompany it.
Social media is awash with copypastas and YouTube videos claiming that Coronavirus is caused by 5G, bats, Big Pharma, and that drinking silver water will cure it. These theories are just as much of a hazard as the virus itself and can even result in danger to the health and lives of those that choose to believe them.
In this article, Exit takes a look at some of the wildest and most widely-shared theories, and debunks them using reputable, reliable, fact-based sources.
Ibuprofen is dangerous for Coronavirus
The Lancet published a hypothesis that taking Ibuprofen if suffering from Coronavirus could be harmful. The French Health Minister Olivier Veran then tweeted the information and the story went viral. The problem is that the hypothesis was just that, a hypothesis.
One of the researchers involved, Professor Michael Roth later said that the letter in the Lancet “does not constitute a recommendation to use certain drugs or not. Patients should always follow the instructions given by their physicians.” Then on 18 March, the WHO stated that they do not have any evidence that ibuprofen exacerbated Coronavirus.
Those who had the influenza vaccine are at higher risk of COVID-19
A study has been circulating on social media and various blog sites, entitled “Influenza vaccination and respiratory virus interference among Department of Defense personnel during the 2017-2018 influenza season.”
The study claims at the end that “Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus”. Conspiracy theorists have claimed that this means taking the influenza vaccine leaves patients more at risk of COVID-19.
The truth is that COVID-19 is a member of the Coronavirus family of viruses of which there are many different types, including common respiratory viruses. The study in question was conducted between 2017 and 2018 before COVID-119 existed and therefore is not relevant to the current situation. There is no data available on interactions between the influenza vaccine and COVID-19 but medical professionals have urged people to get the seasonal influenza shot.
Coronavirus is made in a lab/is a biological weapon
Conspiracy theorists love drama and there is nothing more dramatic than the idea that the virus was engineered in a lab and released into society deliberately.
According to a Pew survey, 23% of Americans have fallen for this and 6% think it was created accidentally. COVID-19 is a member of an already existing family of viruses and all data and studies conducted so far point to the fact that it adapted and made the leap from animals to humans, in the way other viruses have before. The fact that it contains unique components not previously found in other viruses means that it came from a previously unknown source in nature. If it was man-made, scientists would need to work with already known viruses and engineer them to have the desired properties,
A study published in Nature shows that the way the virus binds to an enzyme called ACE2, found in the lungs and heart, is not ideal. This suggests it is a result of natural selection rather than careful engineering by humans. In other words, if it was created by humans, they would have done a better job.
The government introduced the virus in 2018 and Bill Gates is involved
On 21 January, a YouTuber called QAnon tweeted a link to a patent for a coronavirus vaccine, filed by the UK-based Pirbright Institute in 2015. They then claimed the pandemic was planned, the media is being used to incite fear and Big Pharma are desperate to make billions from it. Bill Gates was then linked to the theory as his Foundation had announced it would be funding an unrelated project to study livestock disease and immunology.
In fact, the 2015 patent was for the development of a vaccine for another coronavirus found in chickens. This particular strain has no link to COVID-19 and chickens are not known carriers of the virus. A Pirbright spokesperson said that the Gates Foundation did not fund the patent and there was no connection between the billionaire and Coronavirus.
It has also been claimed that the CDC already has a vaccine for COVI-19 and doesn’t want to release it. Conspiracy theorists have been suggesting that the virus was introduced by the government to make money for pharmaceutical companies. Again this is not true as the patent in question applies to SARS, another member of the Coronavirus family that originated in China between 2002 and 2003. There are currently no vaccines for COVID-19.
Millions have died in China and the government has been incinerating bodies
There are a number of questions over whether China hid the number of Coronavirus cases or purposefully skewed figures to downplay the severity of the issue. US Intelligence has claimed that the Chinese authorities have reported lower numbers, yet the report has not been made public. It does seem that the Chinese did not include asymptomatic positives in their official figures and the real number of deaths and cases are not really known.
The WHO however said there is “no evidence” of an iceberg of hidden cases. Bruce Aylward, the head of the WHO mission to Wuhan claimed that although he didn’t visit every corner of China, he is confident in the numbers they have and believe it gives a good sense of what the epidemic is like.
British tabloids then began to publish meteorological images they said were evidence of corpses burning in the city of Wuhan. These images apparently showed high levels of sulphur dioxide in cities that were quarantined during the outbreak. The images that were used to support the claims were not taken in real-time, rather they were computer-model outputs designed to predict what concentration of sulphur would be present in the air. Secondly, sulphur is not a significant emission from human creation. It is in fact a significant emission from burning coal in power plants and other industrial premises such as steel and iron production. The area shown in the so-called satellite images is directly above the Wuhan Iron & Steel company.
Many of the tabloids that published the claims have since deleted the articles.
Eating bats caused the outbreak
While eating bats and similar creatures is not unheard of in China, it is not exactly common and claiming otherwise is a massive generalisation in a country of more than 1.3 billion people.
There is also no evidence to date that eating bats was the source of the outbreak and many of the initial cases of COVID-19 had no contact with live animals prior to contracting the illness. It is still unknown where the virus originated from but stating that the virus is the result of an entire country’s eating habits is inaccurate.
Furthermore, the practice of eating exotic animals stems from widespread famine and food shortages in the Communist country. Starvation was, is, and continues to be a big threat to millions in the country.
Vitamin C/ bleach/ silver water/ supplements can cure it
During these difficult times, people have understandably become desperate for cures and preventative measures. Unfortunately many of the products being touted as being effective, are not. Essential oils, silver water, bleach, vitamin C, malaria drugs etc are not effective or proven to either prevent or cure Coronavirus.
Bleach is great for disinfecting surfaces in your house but it is not safe to ingest in any form. Colloidal silver is not effective either and can be harmful and even turn your skin blue. Vitamin C has long had a reputation for boosting the immune system but there is little solid evidence that it has any real impact on prevention or cure of Coronavirus, or anything else. In fact, any Vitamin C you ingest is quickly expelled via urine.
5G is the cause of Coronavirus
Various posts have been circulating on social media, claiming that 5G is responsible for the deaths and Coronavirus is being used as a cover-up. They claim that China, and Wuhan were the first places to have 5G towers and that it was all a big plan, involving Bill Gates (again) to depopulate the world. Various other theories have sprung out of this such as 5G interferes with haemoglobin, disrupts the immune system and can even control people’s minds.
Needless to say, this is not true. There is currently no evidence that 5G is harmful to humans. It is just mobile data transmitted over radio waves which are a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum. These waves are non-ionising meaning they do not damage the DNA inside our cells. No reputable medical institution has been able to find any convincing evidence that exposure to these waves can cause adverse health effects. The safe guidelines go up to 300GHz and the maximum for 5G will be around 10s of GHz.
While it is true China has over 100,000 5G towers it could have been South Korea that was the first to actually launch 5G services.