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The story behind the widely shared ‘Plandemic’ conspiracy video

The video also includes dangerous advice for its viewers stating that wearing a mask and frequently washing your hands goes against building immunity.

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The 26-minute video, “Plandemic: The Hidden Agenda Behind Covid-19,” has made its way through multiple social media platforms over the last 10 days. The film is produced by a Californian company, Elevate. The company’s founder, Mike Willis, interviews Judy Mikovits, a former scientist at the National Cancer Institute. In the late 2000s, she was known for her study on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which was later retracted due to failure in the validity of its conclusions. 

On 7th May, the film was uploaded on the Instagram account standup911 and titled Plandemic Part 1 Dr. Judy Mikovits. It received 110, 213 views in the two days it was uploaded. Since last week multiple copies of this film have been removed from Youtube and Facebook for violating guidelines. 

At large, the ‘Plandemic’ video speaks of multiple conspiracy theories around COVID-19 and related public health. It begins with Mikovits explaining that she was disgraced and silenced in relation to her work which aimed at spreading the truth about the reality of science. She alleges that Bill Gates and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, are leveraging the coronavirus crisis to promote their business and political interests. 

The video also includes dangerous advice for its viewers stating that wearing a mask and frequently washing your hands goes against building immunity towards the virus and therefore, increases your chances of catching it. 

Here is a fact check on some of the misleading claims narrated in the film. 

Fact Check

“It’s very clear this virus was manipulated” 

Mikovits explains, “I wouldn’t use the word created. But you can’t say naturally occurring if it was by way of the laboratory. So it’s very clear this virus was manipulated.”

A March, 2020 Nature article called “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” explains how the genetic structure of the novel coronavirus rules out laboratory manipulation. It states that on observing all notable SARS-COV-2 features, scientists don’t believe “that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.” SARS-COV-2 is the name of the virus that causes infectious disease COVID-19. 

The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2

Our comparison of alpha- and betacoronaviruses identifies two notable genomic features of SARS-CoV-2: (i) on the basis of structural studies7,8,9 and biochemical experiments1,9,10 , SARS-CoV-2 appears to be optimized for binding to the human receptor ACE2; and (ii) the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 has a functional polybasic (furin) cleavage site at the S1-S2 boundary through the insertion of 12 nucleotides8 , which additionally led to the predicted acquisition of three O-linked glycans around the site.

“This occurred from SARS-1 within a decade. That’s not naturally occurring.”

This is an inaccurate explanation for the source of the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 is a new disease and not derived from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Though the two diseases have similarities, they have different characteristics, infectious periods, transmissibility, clinical severity, and extent of community spread.

Hydroxychloroquine is “effective against these families of viruses”

This is not entirely proven since no cure or vaccine for COVID-19 or SARS is known. There are numerous ongoing studies some of which have shown Hydroxychloroquine to mitigate symptoms associated with COVID-19, while others show no different results. 

‘Wearing the mask literally activates your own virus. You’re getting sick from your own reactivated coronavirus expressions.’

There is no credible evidence to support this claim. The World Health Organisation in its guidance paper titled “Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19,” suggests that “wearing a medical mask is one of the prevention measures that can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19.” This of course doesn’t guarantee complete safety from catching the virus and needs to be practiced along with other critical preventive measures mentioned in the paper. 

‘If you’ve ever had a flu vaccine, you were injected with coronaviruses’

This is an inaccurate claim which has been debunked by other fact-checkers as well. 

Fact check: Getting flu shot doesn’t make you more (or less) likely to get the coronavirus

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, a handful of posts on Facebook have claimed those who received the influenza vaccine are either more likely to test positive for the virus or to become sick with it. Some posts include snippets of scientific studies meant to back up the claim.

In response to a 2017-18 study on Influenza vaccination and respiratory virus interference that made its rounds on social media last month, the World Health Organisation concludes that the study shows “little or no evidence of association of virus interference and influenza vaccination,” states this April 2020 news report

Higher flu vaccination rates could help expose new viruses like Covid-19 earlier, expert says

Higher influenza vaccination rates could help prevent a future pandemic by exposing new viruses like Covid-19, which was probably circulating much earlier than December 2019 but was mistaken for flu, an expert has said.

Conclusion

The film promotes numerous baseless claims about vaccines, the origin of the novel coronavirus as well as its preventive measures and treatments among others that haven’t been supported by credible sources.

Given how widely this video has been shared it shows that fear and frustration in these uncertain times tend to increase people’s appetite for conspiracy theories. 

Tools Used

  • Google search 
  • Instagram

Result: False


(If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form)

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Coronavirus

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.

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False claim on Pune's steam bar treating or preventing COVID-19

A social media user claims that a steam bar with inhalers treats or prevents COVID-19 in Pune. The claim is accompanied by a video which shows people seated in front of pipes used as steam inhalers. 

“Latest business in #India: The Steam bar, It is inhalers, which treats or prevents #COVID19 in Pune” the tweet reads. 

Other social media users have shared this claim as well. 

Latest business in #India: The Steam bar, It is inhalers, which treats or prevents #COVID19 in Pune: #corona #Covid19 #fightwithcorona

Posted by LIVE Ahmedabad on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

लो कल्लो बात 😎Latest business in #India: The Steam bar, It is inhalers, which treats or prevents #COVID19 in Pune:

Posted by Sanjieva Shankhdhar on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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. 

The Hoaxbusters section on the Indian Scientists' Response to COVID-19 website debunks steam inhalation as COVID-19 treatment.
The Hoaxbusters section on the Indian Scientists’ Response to COVID-19 website debunks steam inhalation as COVID-19 treatment

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. 

In the last six months, we’ve also debunked many other claims related to cure and prevention of coronavirus. You can read related fact checks here

Conclusion 

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. 

Result: False 

Our Sources

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

WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/qa/how-do-i-use-steam-for-congestion


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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.

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People in China are not killing coronavirus with heat or recovering in five days.

Claim 

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:

Fact Check

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.

Conclusion 

The social media post claiming that the Chinese aren’t taking any medicine or vaccine for coronavirus and other included details are false. 

Tools Used

  • Google advanced search 
  • Twitter advanced search

Result: False 

If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form.

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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.

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No, He Is Not Bharat Biotech’s VP Taking The First Dose of COVID Vaccine ‘Covaxin’

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.”

Fact Check

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.

Conclusion

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.

Tools Used

  • Google Search
  • Media Reports
  • Twitter Search

Result: False


If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form

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