A WhatsApp forward is doing the rounds in groups and is attributed to CNN. It claims that a doctor, namely ‘Li Wenliang’ who was the whistleblower of the Chinese government’s propaganda about Covid-19, has been punished for speaking the truth to the power. The viral forward further claims that the doctor has documented a research report. According to this report, chemicals like ‘Methylxanthine, Theobromine and Theophylline’ stimulate compounds that can ward off this virus in a human body with at least an averagely performing immune system.
Here’s what the viral forward reads:
“Breaking News from CNN:- Dr. Li Wenliang, China’s hero doctor who was punished for telling the truth about Corona Virus and later died due to the same disease, had documented case files for research purposes and had in the casefiles proposed a cure that would significantly decrease the impact of the COVID – 19 Virus on the human body. The chemical Methylxanthine, Theobromine and Theophylline stimulate compounds that can ward off these viruses in a human with at least an average immune system. What’s more shocking is that these complex words that were so difficult for people in China to understand is actually called Tea in India, YES, our regular Tea has all these chemicals already in it. The main Methylxanthine in tea is the stimulant caffeine. Other Methylxanthines found in tea are two chemically similar compounds, Theobromine and Theophylline. The tea plant creates these chemicals as a way to ward off insects and other animals. Who would have known that all the solutions to these virus would be a simple cup of TEA. and that is the reason so many patients in China are being cured. The hospital staff in china has started serving tea to the patients 3 times a day, And the effect is finally in Wuhan “The centre of this Pandemic” has been contained and community transmission has almost stopped.
Please Share this message to your friends and family to make them aware about this blessing in the form of TEA in your kitchen.
Forwarded as received.”
Many of our readers tagged us to fact check this claim. Since the viral forward attributes CNN, we first checked CNN to see if the outlet has published any such report. Using the search option on CNN’s website, we searched for ‘Dr. Li Wenliang’, we found that CNN has published 32 articles that mention the said doctor.
Along with the other articles, on Page 4, we found an article which reports that the Chinese doctor who tried to save lives but was silenced, has been infected with the novel coronavirus.
On December 30, Li Wenliang dropped a bombshell in his medical school alumni group on the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat: seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like illness and quarantined in his hospital.
As per CNN, as mentioned in the above article, Dr. Li Wenliang was a doctor based in the Chinese city of Wuhan who succumbed to Covid-19 infection on February 6, 2020. An excerpt from the article reads, “Li, a 34-year-old doctor working in Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, told his friends to warn their loved ones privately. But within hours screenshots of his messages had gone viral — without his name being blurred. “When I saw them circulating online, I realized that it was out of my control, and I would probably be punished, Li said. He was right. Soon after he posted the message, Li was accused of rumor-mongering by the Wuhan police. He was one of several medics targeted by police for trying to blow the whistle on the deadly virus in the early weeks of the outbreak. The virus has since claimed at least 425 lives and sickened more than 20,000 people globally — including Li.”
We also found a video uploaded on YouTube by CNN that throws more light on the issue and contains the WeChat group chat, screengrabs of which went viral later and became the primary cause behind Li’s arrest. In this video, CNN also claims to have spoken to him.
So far, we have observed that Dr. Li Wenliang is not a fictional character, and he indeed was a Wuhan-based doctor, who was punished for speaking the truth to the Chinese regime. To verify other claims in the viral forward, we searched the CNN website with multiple keyword combinations. Still, we could not find the mention of any medication for COVID-19 suggested by Dr. Li.
Additionally, when we searched further, we found this Wikipedia page, having reports by multiple news and media outlets, but none of the report mention any medication or vaccination suggested by Dr. Li.
As we searched further, we found these two reports in a Chinese media outlet namely ‘South China Morning Post’ explaining the whole issue, from Dr. Li alerting his colleagues in a WeChat group to the reaction of his parents and Chinese people after his death, in detail.
Here SCMP writes about Dr. Li and how he became a coronavirus hero.
China’s health authorities and the public have offered their condolences over the death of the doctor, whom police tried to silence in the early days of the outbreak.
Here, SCMP further explains how Dr. Li’s parents, his widow, and the citizens of China reacted to his death.
Doctor Li Wenliang died on Friday after becoming infected while fighting the outbreak on the medical front line.
It is imperative from the pieces of evidence produced above that Dr. Li was not even sure of the name of the virus, he merely suspected that this could be a virus from the same coronavirus family that SARS is part of. Hence a vaccination for a disease or a virus that is not entirely known yet is just fake news doing the rounds on social media and in WhatsApp groups. Also, in none of the media reports, it is mentioned that Dr. Li could manage to find a vaccine for the suspected coronavirus. More specifically, Dr. Li is called a whistleblower because he sensed the probability of the pandemic in its early stage and was thrown into jail for alerting his colleagues of the same.
Now, we searched Google to know what is the truth behind the medications for novel coronavirus, as mentioned in the viral WhatsApp forward. Using the keyword “Methylxanthine, Theobromine, and Theophylline,” we performed a Google search and found a research report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information
(NCBI), a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the US.
Structure-Bioactivity Relationships of Methylxanthines: Trying to Make Sense of All the Promises and the Drawbacks
Marcello Iriti, and Derek J. McPhee, Academic Editor Methylxanthines are a group of phytochemicals derived from the purine base xanthine and obtained from plant secondary metabolism. They are unobtrusively included in daily diet in common products as coffee, tea, energetic drinks, or chocolate. Caffeine is by far the most studied methylxanthine either in animal or epidemiologic studies.
As mentioned in the above article, Methylxanthines are a group of phytochemicals derived from purine base Xanthine. They are obtained from secondary plant metabolism. They are unobtrusively included in the daily diet in products such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, or chocolate. Caffeine is by far the most studied methylxanthine either in animal or epidemiologic studies. Theophylline and theobromine are other relevant methylxanthines also commonly available in the sources mentioned above. Methylxanthine has beneficial physiologic outcomes in areas like neurodegenerative and respiratory diseases, diabetes, or cancer. However, there have always been toxicity concerns with Methylxanthine over consumption and pharmacologic applications. Herein, we explore the structure-bioactivity relationships to bring light those enumerated effects.”
We found multiple reports that list the benefits and demerits of Methylxanthine, Theobromine, and Theophylline, but none suggests that the three can cure novel coronavirus or any other virus from the same family.
It’s International tea day today. Dedicated to our beloved and chai lovers, International tea day is celebrated each year on 15th December. The day aims to draw global attention on tea trade across the world, and on workers and growers in tea plantations. Tea is one of the most consumed beverages across the world.
Native to China and India, green tea has gained popularity for its role in improved heart health and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis. Benefits of Green tea is also being hailed for the weight loss benefits it offers.
All coffee comes from trees, and all of it contains caffeine. And since there’s no such thing as a “caffeine-free coffee tree,” there must be ways to separate out the caffeine. The most common involves extracting it from coffee beans with a solvent. One solvent – ethyl acetate – illustrates the madness of the organic movement.
We also found research published by De Montfort University that lists the health benefits and health risks of Caffeine, Theobromine, and Theophylline. Notably, it carries no mention of the three curings any virus of the corona family.
Methylxanthines, namely caffeine, theobromine and theophylline are found in several beverages and food products such as coffee, cocoa, tea and cola drinks. These substances can provide benefits to humans but also prove harmful mainly when consumed in high amounts.
After reading the media reports, we were of the view that Methylxanthine, Theobromine, and Theophylline can not cure novel coronavirus. However, we checked the official website of the WHO. WHO has mentioned that to date, there is no vaccine or treatment to prevent or cure Covid-19.
Hence it can be concluded that the viral forward is ‘False,’ and the Chinese doctor Li Wenliang did not mention any medication or vaccination to cure Covid-19 in his findings.
- Google Search
- Research published by De Montfort University
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Claim On Pune’s Steam Bar Treating or Preventing COVID-19 Is False
Steam inhalation as a treatment or preventive measure of COVID-19 is not listed by the World Health Organisation.
Other social media users have shared this claim as well.
Fact Check/ Verification
Different states in India continue to witness a rise in COVID-19 cases. Maharashtra, the epicentre of coronavirus in India has 2,75,404 active cases as of 8am on 25 September. It’s followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh which have 95,568, 69,353 and 61,300 active cases respectively.
At a time like this, the claim on Pune’s steam bar with inhalers has been shared by many social media users in the past few days.
Steam inhalation can thin mucus and help it drain from the nose when experiencing nasal congestion. “Controlled studies show that these remedies do not kill viruses in the respiratory tract. Besides, there are no studies testing the effect of these remedies on preventing infection by the novel coronavirus,” state the voluntary group of scientists, Indian Scientists’ Response to CoViD-19, in their Hoaxbusters section.
On the other hand, a 2015 study published by the Spanish Pediatrics Association takes note of the burns or scalds that can be caused due to hot water or steam. “Steam inhalation therapy (SIT), which has been used traditionally and is still employed today to treat mild respiratory tract infections despite the lack of evidence to support its effectiveness, can also cause burns indirectly through scalding.”
Also steam inhalation as a treatment or preventive measure of COVID-19 is not listed by the World Health Organisation.
“While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease,” notes the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
On 23 September, Chief of Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Hospital, Dr FaheemYounus, responded to the initial claim saying, “ Let’s not turn fear into business. This is completely useless.”
Note: We were unable to locate the exact steam bar from the claim.
The recent claim which states that a steam bar with inhalers treats or prevents COVID-19 in Pune is false. Currently, there is no known medicine or treatment that can cure COVID-19.
Indian Scientists’ Response to CoViD-19: https://indscicov.in/for-public/busting-hoaxes/
A study by Spanish Pediatrics Association: https://www.analesdepediatria.org/en-severe-burns-related-steam-inhalation-articulo-S2341287914001343
World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public\
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GOI: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/
Chief of Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Hospital, Dr FaheemYounus: https://twitter.com/FaheemYounus/status/1308820077324701696?s=20
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False Claim About People in China Not Taking Any Medicine Or Vaccine For Coronavirus Goes Viral
Contrary to the claim which says that people in China have stopped going to the hospital for cure, news report from China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency says otherwise.
A social media post claims that the Chinese aren’t taking any medicine or vaccine for coronavirus. They’re instead killing the virus with heat and recovering in five days.
We received the above image on our Whatsapp verification number. The claim which is an image of a social media post allegedly posted by Tahir Mahmood Chaudry starts with a disclaimer that the message is a translation from an Indian living in Wuhan.
Using keywords we found multiple social media posts with the same claim being circulated since April, 2020. See of few examples below:
The claim in context was allegedly posted by Tahir Mahmood Chaudry, Executive director at Ovex Technologies. Chaudry’s social media profiles confirm his designation, but whether he posted this claim or not remains unknown. We’ve reached out to him for verification and will update the copy if we receive a response.
Moving on to the first part of the claim which says,
“Chinese are not taking any medicine or any vaccine for Corona virus. Every household has a Corona virus case. They have stopped going to hospital for cure. They instead kill the virus with heat.”
We found no credible news report or information from any official source which supports the claim that every household in China has a COVID-19 case and that they aren’t taking any medicine or vaccine for it.
Contrary to the claim which says that people in China have stopped going to the hospital for cure, a 30 June news report from China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency states, “By Monday, the Chinese mainland had reported a total of 1,918 imported cases. Of the cases, 1,830 had been discharged after recovery, and 88 remained hospitalized. No deaths from the imported cases had been reported.”
The second part of the claim states,
“Very Hot Steam Inhalation from kettle 4 times a day
Hot Gargles 4 times a day
Hot tea 4 times a day
Virus dies in 4 days.
5th Day you are Corona Negative.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that our normal body temperature remains around 36.5 degree Celsius to 37 degree Celsius irrespective of temperature of the bath or shower. In fact baths from extremely hot water can burn us.
The WHO also also clarified that while some traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate mild COVID-19 symptoms, there is no known vaccine or medicine to prevent or cure the disease so far.
The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in its immunity boosting guidelines recommends general measures such as drinking warm water, herbal tea, and steam inhalation among other things. But it also clearly states that this advisory is in no way a treatment for COVID-19.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) in its COVID-19 guidelines also states that there is no vaccine or specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus.
You can read our other fact checks related to the novel coronavirus here.
The social media post claiming that the Chinese aren’t taking any medicine or vaccine for coronavirus and other included details are false.
- Google advanced search
- Twitter advanced search
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No, He Is Not Bharat Biotech’s VP Taking The First Dose of COVID Vaccine ‘Covaxin’
Social media users circulated a false image claiming that the vice president of Bharat Biotech has undergone the first clinical trial of the coronavirus vaccine.
Several social users posted a picture of a woman thrusting a syringe in man’s vein and claimed that the man in the picture is Bharat Biotech’s Vice President, Dr. VK Srinivas, and the first dose of the vaccine was administered on him.
According to a report in Live Mint, Bharat Biotech, an unlisted Indian vaccine maker, has received regulatory approval to start human clinical trials for its experimental shot. The phase 1 trial of Covaxine will begin next week. The company has planned to enroll 375 people in the first phase of clinical trials.
We found that the same image is viral on Twitter and Facebook with a caption, “Dr. V. K.Srinivas, Vice President, Bharat biotech, taking Corona vaccine clinical trial immediately after taking the first dose. He is the first person in India to take vaccine developed by him and his team in Bharat Biotech. Look at the confidence.”
As we began fact-checking the claim, we looked for some media reports backing the claim, but we did not find any authentic information to corroborate.
However, during our research, we came across the statement tweeted by Bharat Biotech. In a statement posted on their Twitter handle, Bharat Biotech said that individual images and messages circulated on social media platforms had not disseminated by Bharat biotech. The image is a routine procedural blood draw for testing all production staff.
We now searched, if Dr.VK Srinivas is the Vice President of the Bharat biotech. During our research, we did not find any results for his name. We found that Dr. V Krishna Mohan is the Executive Director, and T Srinivas is the Chief Financial Officer of the management team of the pharmaceutical.
It is evident from our fact check that social media users circulated a false image claiming that the vice president of Bharat Biotech has undergone the first clinical trial of the coronavirus vaccine.
- Google Search
- Media Reports
- Twitter Search
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