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Fact Check-There is still no evidence of a COVID-19 conspiracy

Social media users are sharing videos of British citizens presenting alleged evidence of COVID-19 fraud to police. However, the information touted has repeatedly been debunked.

The clips (here and here) show a group of men visiting Bromley (here) and Bexleyheath (here) police stations in London with documents supposedly proving pandemic fraud and murder through the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The Metropolitan Police (www.met.police.uk/) declined to comment on the clips.

This article will address the most problematic claims.

FOI REQUESTS

One of the men tells officers that freedom of information requests (FOIs) from hospitals show no evidence of COVID-19 deaths. However, Reuters has previously debunked this claim.

In November 2020, social media users alleged that an FOI request confirmed there were no coronavirus deaths in Yorkshire, northern England (here). The letter was real, but only showed deaths counted in one specialist NHS trust. So far, government data shows that 12,838 people have died of COVID-19 in Yorkshire and The Humber region (here). A month later, Reuters debunked a similar claim about a specialist NHS trust in northwest England (here).

In the new year, Facebook users claimed an FOI response showed that only 26 patients had died from COVID-19 at a Welsh Health Board. However, this was just the number of people who died directly from the disease, and not the people who died from other conditions after contracting COVID-19. (here).

A misunderstanding of comorbidity, the existence of two or more conditions or illnesses in a patient, arose the following month and was again debunked by Reuters (here).

DEATH STATISTICS

In the next attempt to disprove the pandemic, the men presented officers with a table said to show annual mortality recorded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The graph allegedly proved there were more deaths in 2015 than 2020, but Reuters has debunked these statistics before.

Facebook users shared a table in October 2020 allegedly illustrating the UK’s death rate had decreased yearly between 2015 and 2020. However, the figures came from mixed sources, some of which included data for just England and Wales, and some for the United Kingdom as a whole. This meant the data was not directly comparable and did not illustrate the downward trend described (here).

Similar errors plagued graphs supposedly showing that 2020 had one of the lowest death rates in years (here), that 2020 deaths were marginally higher than 2018 (here), that 2020 had fewer deaths than 2019 (here) and, most recently, that deaths in 2020 had just the 35th highest death rate in the past 50 years (here). Real figures from the government (here) and the ONS show increased deaths due to the pandemic (here).

Despite this, another man in the video told officers: “If you have a heart attack it goes down as a COVID-19 death. COVID hasn’t been proven to exist” (timestamp 14.40 here).

Firstly, COVID-19 has been isolated numerous times (here).

Secondly, this statement ignores that COVID-19 deaths are counted in numerous ways. One measure to count COVID-19 fatalities is the number of deaths that occur within 28 days of a positive test result. This would include someone who died of a heart attack, but it is not the only measure of mortality. The government also records the number of cases for which doctors wrote COVID-19 on their death certificate who may not have tested positive for the disease. This would not include people for whom doctors believed COVID-19 played no role in their death. Reuters explained this in detail in September 2020 (here).

IPSOS MORI

The group also presented alleged evidence that the government is killing people. One man mentions a letter with the words “Ipsos MORI” on it, which he claims translates to “they die”.

This claim was popular in November when the British research company Ipsos MORI was commissioned to conduct a COVID-19 survey (here). Social media users at the time had posted screenshots that showed Google Translate interpreting the Latin phrase “Ipsos Mori” as “they die” - but this lacks vital context.

Speaking to Reuters, Joseph Howley, an associate professor of classics at Columbia University (here), said that while it is possible to reach this translation, it would need to be part of a longer sentence, such as: “He said that they are dying,” or: “He hopes that they die” to make sense.

Howley added: “Understood this way, the most accurate translation would be as a sentence fragment or incomplete phrase, something like “….*that* they die.” It would be what we call an “accusative-infinitive” construction, used for things like indirect speech, but missing a governing verb or other reason to be in that form.”

Moreover, the company name does not originate from a Latin translation; rather it is from a 2005 merger between the companies Ipsos and MORI. Ipsos, a French company, derived its name from the Latin phrase ‘ipso facto’, and the British company MORI is an acronym for its full title, Market and Opinion Research International (here…).

ETHYLENE OXIDE

Another key part of the group’s argument was that COVID-19 testing swabs are harmful due to ethylene oxide. This claim took off around March 2021 as schools reopened and students were required to take lateral flow tests (here).

Sterilising medical equipment with ethylene oxide is a tightly regulated procedure that has been used for decades (here). It is true that ethylene oxide can cause cancer, but there is no evidence the swabs are harmful. The gaseous form used to sterilise the swabs is removed and any leftover residue is below the safety levels set by national and international standards (here).

In the video, one man adds that the government removed the words “ethylene oxide” from the test packaging to keep people ignorant about this supposedly deadly ingredient. However, as Reuters explained in April, the government said it changed the outer packaging because the box contained equipment that wasn’t sterilised with ethylene oxide. The health ministry said the ethylene oxide label remained on the individual wrapper for the testing swab, where it had always been (here).

VACCINES

The group also alleged that COVID-19 vaccines are killing people and that the government has legislated for the shots to be offered to children, unless their parents opt-out.

There is no evidence to support this. COVID-19 vaccines were rigorously tested, and the government continues to monitor the vaccine roll-out, which has reached 42.2 million people so far (coronavirus.data.gov.uk/). There is no proof the government is covering up deaths and official monitoring and action suggests the opposite (here). For instance, British officials recommended in May that people under 40 get an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca injection due to a small risk of blood clots (here).

Reuters has debunked countless false claims about COVID-19 vaccine safety, including that spike proteins in the shots are toxic (here), vaccines cause new variants (here), immunisation leads to catatonia (here) and that shots are infectious (here).

At the time of writing, COVID-19 vaccines for children are not mandatory or part of an ‘opt-out’ consent system. The UK has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds (here) but the country’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has not yet decided whether shots will be rolled out en masse to children below the age of 18 (here).

VERDICT

False. This video shows individuals using flawed evidence to inaccurately claim that the pandemic is fake and the government is killing people.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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