A viral YouTube video of a panel of doctors and activists from Europe peddles coronavirus misinformation by equating the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak to that of a normal flu along with suggesting that the novel coronavirus is hyped and people do not need to fear this outbreak.
Several of the representatives in the video share conspiracy theories that have previously been debunked by several fact-checking organisations. Media hyping the pandemic, tests giving false results, 5G technology as a cause for the spread of COVID-19, and no need to follow social distancing and wearing masks are some of the theories that these panelists aim to discuss through their organisation. BOOM has debunked these in the past.
In the 18-minute video, the alliance that calls itself World Doctors Alliance gathered 17 individuals including politicians, activists, lawyers, naturopaths, psychologists and doctors to negate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This panel formed an independent extra-parliamentary corona investigation committee [Außerparlamentarischer Corona Untersuchungsausschuss (ACU 2020)] that vociferously denies the existence of a pandemic.
Heiko Schöning, founder of the Alliance, who was arrested for speaking against the pandemic in London in September, also referred to the existing health crisis as a "Plandemic". A two-part movie by the same name was taken down from social media platforms after it was labelled to be spreading disinformation
This panel met in Berlin on October 10. While the original video posted on ACU's website and YouTube channel has been taken down, BOOM found the whole video on another user's profile. Snippets featuring Elke De Kerke and Dolores Cahill are, however, viral on social media.
Snippets of individual panelists speaking about their motive to join the alliance are circulating on WhatsApp. BOOM received one of the snippets on its WhatsApp helpline with the caption "President of World Doctors Alliance says good news, "Corona is a seasonal virus so no need to wear masks, social distancing, fear, and quarantine.
1. President of World Doctors Alliance Dolores Cahill from Ireland says that there is no need to wear masks as the virus is seasonal
Fact: Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have repeatedly stated that the virus can only be eliminated by a combination of epidemiological measures such as a vaccine and behavioural changes in hygiene that include hand-washing, following social distancing and wearing masks.
Equating the current coronavirus to a seasonal flu, Cahill does not take into account the prevalence and spread of the virus in the summer months when the United States, Brazil, and India were all reporting a high number of cases. With the onset of winter, many European and North American countries are steadily reporting an increase in cases. As the virus is a respiratory virus, it does follow the pattern of other respiratory viruses of spreading faster in colder temperatures but there is no evidence supporting the claim that the virus is seasonal.
Cahill's university distanced itself from her statements about COVID-19 in June. Cahill employed at the University College Dublin had shared that COVID-19 is a fear-mongering propaganda tool for forcing vaccination on people. She was also asked to resign from a European Union committee called the Scientific Committee of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).
2. COVID-19 is just like a normal influenza flu
Another panelist, Elka De Kerke, a Dutch practitioner, added that the current outbreak is not a pandemic and that the virus is like a normal influenza flu virus.
Fact: Firstly, both the viruses belong to different families of viruses.
Furthermore, a recently released study by the CDC found that compared to the influenza flu, hospitalised patients had a 5 times higher risk of death along with seventeen other complications. There have been several fake news surrounding the use of influenza vaccines to tackle COVID-19.
3. RT-PCR Tests are giving incorrect results
De Klerk further claims that the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, molecular test used for detecting COVID-19 is returning false positive results in "89 to 94%" of the cases.
Fact: This number is hyped and is not true. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, the RT-PCR tests have a sensitivity of 96% (that is it correctly identifies a positive result 965 of the times) while a specificity of 98% (correctly identifying a negative test)
A study published in British medical journal Lancet suggests that in the UK, RT-PCR presented false positive results in the 0.8 to 4% range, while false negatives could run as high as 33%
4. 5G technology causes COVID-19
Another holistic doctor from Denmark, Agatha Dorado suggests that 5G radiation plays a role in the spread of COVID-19 and the governments are in cahoots with technological bodies to spread this "coronavirus scam"
Fact: However, 5G networks, which use higher-frequency radio waves to increase the speed of data transmission, have been deemed safe by the WHO. The body maintains that "unlike ionizing radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays," the electromagnetic fields created by mobile networks can "neither break chemical bonds nor cause ionization in the human body." Thus, 5G technology does not cause COVID-19.
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