A viral Whatsapp message claiming that “In Italy the cure for Coronavirus is finally found” has been widely circulating. The lengthy message includes multiple false claims, beginning with how Italian doctors disobeyed the World Health Organisation (WHO) and went ahead with autopsies on the Coronavirus diseased patients and found the cause of death to be a bacteria not a virus.
We received multiple requests for verification of this message on our Whatsapp verification helpline number. The messages had slight variations in their wordings but they all pointed to the same claims and sourced it to the Ministry of Health in Italy. The Whatsapp message included what looked like a Twitter handle: @ italiarevelacurardelcovid19. On searching for this handle on Twitter we came across many different users sharing whole and parts of this message.
Using keywords from the message, we searched on social media sites and found variations of the message being shared extensively across Twitter and Facebook.
We also came across a video on Facebook whose content is identical to that of the viral Whatsapp message we received. Posted on 24 May, 2020, this video received nearly 23K views at the time of writing this factcheck.
The viral Whatsapp message we received included various claims about Italian doctors, deaths due to the novel Coronavirus being caused by a bacteria not a virus, and use of Aspirin among others. We fact-checked five broad claims stated in the viral message.
- Italian doctors disobeyed the world health law WHO, not to do autopsies on the dead of the Coronavirus and they found that it is NOT a VIRUS but a BACTERIA that causes death. This causes blood clots to form and causes the death of the patient.
First, Italian doctors could not disobey the World Health Organisation (WHO) on conducting autopsies since WHO never ruled out autopsies on deaths due to COVID-19. In fact in their interim guideline titled, “Infection Prevention and Control for the safe management of a dead body in the context of COVID-19” and dated 24 March, 2020 suggested that adequate precautionary measures be taken before performing autopsies on deceased persons infected with COVID-19.
About the claim on autopsies by Italian doctors, it’s true that autopsies were performed on 38 deceased persons who died from COVID-19 in two hospitals in Northern Italy. This was carried out to analyse their lung tissues. This preprint published on 22 April, 2020, suggests that Diffuse Alveolar Disease was a predominant pattern of lung lesions in these COVID-19 patients, something that was previously found in viral infections with the SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV coronaviruses.
Apart from the above preprint stating COVID-19 to be caused by a virus, the WHO in their myth busters too clearly tell us that COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacteria. The virus that causes the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) was named SARS-CoV-2.
- Italy defeats the so-called Covid-19, which is nothing other than “Disseminated intravascular coagulation” (Thrombosis).
Italy has not defeated or rather found a cure for COVID-19. As explained by the WHO, there is no cure or authorised medication to prevent or treat COVID-19.
There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is or caused by disseminated intravascular coagulation also referred to as thrombosis. COVID-19 is proven to be caused by a virus SARS-CoV-2, not by bacteria. Disseminated intravascular coagulation is a condition that can cause blood clots in patients. While studies have found a significant relation between COVID-19 and blood clotting, and patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms can show coagulation abnormalities, it’s incorrect to claim that COVID-19 is thrombosis.
- And the way to combat it, that is, its cure, is with the “antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and anticoagulants”.
Antibiotics only work against bacteria. And as we now know, COVID-19 is caused by a virus. The World Health Organisation explains that “the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus, antibiotics should not be used to prevent or treat infection.”
Anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen can help in the treatment of symptoms of COVID-19 like high fever. Although the National Health Service recommends taking paracetamol instead.
There have been a variety of studies in the use of anticoagulants in COVID-19 patients. One such study found that systemic anticoagulants “may be associated with improved outcomes among patients hospitalized with COVID-19,” but it’s use must be calculated against the risk of bleeding.
- Something else, according to Italian pathologists. “The ventilators and the intensive care unit were never needed.”
The claim that according to Italian pathologists, ventilators and intensive care is not needed is incorrect. Nowhere have they claimed this nor is there any credible evidence suggesting the same. An April, 2020 news report on Science, The Wire details how and why severely-ill COVID-19 patients will need ventilators.
- Already knowing this diagnosis, the Italian Ministry of Health immediately changed the Covid-19 treatment protocols … and began to administer to their positive patients Aspirin 100mg and Apronax …, result: the patients began to recover and present improvements and the Ministry of Health released and sent home more than 14,000 patients in a single day.
The message implies COVID-19 to be caused by a bacteria and medicines like aspirin, apronax and even paracetamol, which are nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the cure is false.
The Italian Health Ministry has said that there are clinical trials underway for the treatment of COVID-19. Meanwhile, they ask readers to visit the website of Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) for information about drugs that are made available to COVID-19 patients. Aspirin isn’t one of them.
According to the Italian Ministry of Health, there have been 150,604 COVID-19 recoveries in total as on 28 May, 2020. There has been no report of 14,000 or more recoveries in one day in Italy, contrary to the claim.
The claims made in the Whatsapp message we received are false. Italy has not found the cure of the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not a bacteria. While the symptoms of COVID-19 can be treated with anticoagulants and anti-inflammatories, they are not a cure for the disease itself.
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