Several social media users are circulating a message that claims that the WHO has taken a U-turn on coronavirus, terming it a seasonal ailment. Newschecker also received the claim on our Whatsapp tipline, which stated that COVID is a seasonal illness that happens during a change of weather and that neither the patient needs to isolate himself nor is social distancing required for the public. The viral message also points towards a press conference, which upon running a keyword search, led us to these tweets purportedly showing a group of doctors, representing the “World Doctors Alliance”, reiterating that Covid is a seasonal virus.
The archived version of the tweet can be seen here.
Newschecker first ran a keyword search for “WHO coronavirus seasonal”, which did not throw up any official nor relevant news reports, since the outbreak was first reported in 2019, stating that the world health body said the virus was a seasonal one.
In fact, the latest press release by WHO on Covid, published on December 1, stated that the 2022-2023 influenza (flu) season epidemic is off to an early start in the European region as concerns over Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) rise and COVID-19 is still being a threat. According to WHO, “COVID-19 case rates, hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, and death rates are currently low compared to the past 12 months, but this situation could change as new variants emerge, and the disease continues to strain healthcare resources.” At no point in the article does it state that Covid-19 is a seasonal virus.
We next looked up the World Doctors Alliance, which led us to the organisation’s website. According to the website, the people seen in the video clip, including the female spokesperson, are not members of the World Health Organization (WHO). They are members of an independent nonprofit alliance of doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and staff around the world, the website informed, who have united in the wake of the Covid-19 to share experiences with a view to end all lockdowns and related damaging measures and to re-establish universal health determinance of psychological and physical well being for all humanity.
A further search led us to this Guardian article on the group, dated October 21, 2021, where it called World Doctors Alliance an “international pressure group that spread false and conspiratorial claims about Covid-19”.
According to the report, ”The World Doctors Alliance includes prominent members who have falsely claimed Covid-19 is a hoax and that vaccines cause widespread harm. Researchers found members ‘used their qualifications to lend a veneer of credibility to claims that have been proven to be false and often dangerous’.”
We also came across this article published by the Associated Press on October 23, 2020, debunking the claims. According to AP, “A group of health professionals who call themselves the World Doctors Alliance make multiple false claims in a video being shared online, many of which have been debunked by experts working to stop the spread of the coronavirus.(sic)”
The WHO has not stated that the coronavirus disease is a seasonal virus, while the claims around the virus by a group of doctors were also found to be false.
World Doctors Alliance website
Guardian report, October 21, 2021
AP report, October 23, 2020
WHO report, December 1, 2022
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