FALSE: DO NOT SHARE
Measures to combat COVID-19 are unnecessary as it is less deadly than other infectious diseases such as influenza or tuberculosis.
False. There is currently no treatment for COVID-19. Social distancing is necessary to slow the spread of the virus.
In a video uploaded to YouTube, the US deaths for COVID-19 (at the point when the video was posted) are compared with seasonal and yearly deaths in the US caused by influenza / the flu and tuberculosis (TB). The graphs and statistics used by the speaker are sourced from a NBC News broadcast, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Through these comparisons, the speaker highlights the higher number of deaths for influenza and TB than for COVID-19, suggesting that the severity of COVID-19 has been “hyper-accentuated” in the mass media. He therefore concludes that social distancing measures put in place to combat the virus are unnecessary and constitute “worldwide economic terrorism” because they haven’t been required for TB or the flu.
This is false. While the facts used are legitimate, including that across the US there have been up to 63,000 flu deaths between October 2019 through to March 2020 and that globally 1.5 million people died from TB in 2018, he fails to mention that the key difference between the diseases mentioned are that there is currently “no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicines against COVID-19”, as stated by the WHO, as opposed to TB, a “treatable and curable disease” which can be fought with a course of antimicrobial drugs. The BCG vaccine also protects against TB. Similarly, “safe and effective vaccines are available” for influenza.
As a result, social distancing measures are one of the few ways to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 as clinical treatments are still being developed. This is not the case for either the seasonal flu or TB. It is for this reason that governments worldwide, upon recommendation from the WHO, are enforcing physical distancing so as to prevent mass transmission of the virus and reduce strains placed on health services. Simulations developed by Imperial College London predicted that if there were no mitigating measures in place there would be “approximately 510,000 deaths in GB and 2.2 million in the US, not accounting for the potential negative effects of health systems being overwhelmed on mortality”.
It is also worth mention that, as reported in The Lancet, while TB “is a slow pandemic and has accompanied humankind for millennia, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new and spreading rapidly around the world”. Government action will therefore be more drastic, in response to a virus with unknown factors at play. In regards to seasonal influenza, the WHO states that “mortality is usually well below 0.1%’ as opposed to ‘between 3-4%” for COVID-19 and that the reproductive number is also higher than for influenza.
Additionally, it is claimed by the speaker that “testing is 80 percent false positive”. He quotes this figure from an article investigating the contacts of COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic, not the patients themselves. The article has subsequently been withdrawn by its editorial office due to conclusions made that were “depended on theoretical deduction but not the field epidemiology data” with “further researches needed to prove the current theory”.
Toward the end of the video, the speaker references an article about ID2020 working with the government of Bangladesh on a vaccination records system. ID2020 is a non-profit organisation advocating for digital ID for the 1.1 Billion people worldwide without it. He uses the article as proof that “they want to force you to take their vaccines, their chemical, subsidised, government soupy mixture”. Not only was the article published in September 2019, before the coronavirus outbreak, but these comments reflect widespread misinformation circulating about the group. The New Humanitarian has reported on these growing conspiracy theories and was told by ID2020’s CEO that their aim is “to put the individual in charge of their data and allow them to use their digital certificates as credentials” such as a record of vaccination. This is not the same as facilitating mandatory vaccination.
CDC: 2019-2020 U.S Flu Season, Preliminary Burden Estimates
WHO: Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)
NHS: BCG tuberculosis (TB) vaccine overview
WHO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public
Imperial College London: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand
The Lancet: Tuberculosis and COVID-19
WHO: Similarities and differences – COVID-19 and influenza
NCBI: Withdrawn article investigating the potential false-positive rate among the ‘asymptomatic infected individuals’ in close contacts of COVID-19 patients
Biometric Update .Com: ID2020 digital ID with vaccines article
The New Humanitarian: How a tech NGO got sucked into a COVID-19 conspiracy theory