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HomeCoronavirusNo, Dr. Li Wenliang Did Not Mention 'Tea' As A Cure To...

No, Dr. Li Wenliang Did Not Mention ‘Tea’ As A Cure To Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Authors

A self-taught social media maverick, Saurabh realised the power of social media early on and began following and analysing false narratives and ‘fake news’ even before he entered the field of fact-checking professionally. He is fascinated with the visual medium, technology and politics, and at Newschecker, where he leads social media strategy, he is a jack of all trades. With a burning desire to uncover the truth behind events that capture people's minds and make sense of the facts in the noisy world of social media, he fact checks misinformation in Hindi and English at Newschecker.

Claim

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.”

Verification

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.

This Chinese doctor tried to save lives, but was silenced. Now he has 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.

Who was Li Wenliang and how did he become 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.

Coronavirus: whistle-blower’s mother demands answers from police

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.

International Tea Day: 5 Types Of Teas And Their Health Benefits Deconstructed

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.

The Benefits of Green Tea Explained!

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.

How Is Organic Decaf Coffee Made? Hint: Chemicals

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.

Health Effects and Risks of Caffeine, Theobromine and Theophylline

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.

Sources

  • Google Search
  • Archive
  • Research published by De Montfort University

Result: False

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Authors

A self-taught social media maverick, Saurabh realised the power of social media early on and began following and analysing false narratives and ‘fake news’ even before he entered the field of fact-checking professionally. He is fascinated with the visual medium, technology and politics, and at Newschecker, where he leads social media strategy, he is a jack of all trades. With a burning desire to uncover the truth behind events that capture people's minds and make sense of the facts in the noisy world of social media, he fact checks misinformation in Hindi and English at Newschecker.

Saurabh Pandey
Saurabh Pandey
A self-taught social media maverick, Saurabh realised the power of social media early on and began following and analysing false narratives and ‘fake news’ even before he entered the field of fact-checking professionally. He is fascinated with the visual medium, technology and politics, and at Newschecker, where he leads social media strategy, he is a jack of all trades. With a burning desire to uncover the truth behind events that capture people's minds and make sense of the facts in the noisy world of social media, he fact checks misinformation in Hindi and English at Newschecker.

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