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Fact Check-Videos do not show proof of COVID-19 fraud

The COVID-19 pandemic is not a scam organised by the UK government.

A series of videos, viewed collectively more than 93,000 times, detail a conspiracy that the COVID-19 pandemic is a fraud organised by the British government. The videos show a man visit three councils in the East Midlands county of Nottinghamshire and present officials with supposed evidence of the alleged hoax (here , here and here).

Representatives from district councils representing Mansfield (www.mansfield.gov.uk) and Newark (www.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk/) expressed concern about the videos to Reuters via email, saying that they were “getting increased interest from the public” despite being “full of misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccination programme”. This article will address the most erroneous claims.

ISOLATING SARS-CoV-2

The filmed individual alleges that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, has never been isolated. As evidence, he presents a freedom of information (FOI) response from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) in August 2020, reading: “DHSC does not hold information on the isolation of a SARS-CoV-2 virus” (here and here).

This does not mean the government “admitted” the virus has not been identified (here, timestamp 16.30), just that DHSC does not have the data. In fact, there are multiple examples of scientists isolating SARS-CoV-2 (here , here , here , here), where they also sequenced the complete genome (here , here , here).

Pictures of the isolated virus were released by the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (here) and Oxford’s Museum of Natural History even opened an art installation based on the first genomic map of SARS-CoV-2 from Wuhan, China (here).

Responding to a similar request in March 2021 (here), the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also said information about the isolation of SARS-CoV-2 variants was available on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) website (here).

“COVID-19 IS NOT DANGEROUS”

Part of the evidence for the alleged “COVID fraud” is a document showing that the government downgraded the virus.

However, this decision does not mean the virus is harmless. The government initially rated COVID-19 – then called the Wuhan novel coronavirus –as a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in January 2020 (here), but downgraded it two months later as understanding about testing and mortality grew (here).

HCIDs are classified as having “high case fatality rates”, such as Ebola’s 50% (here) and SARS’ 15% (here), which are much higher than COVID-19’s estimated 1% (here). However, the ease with which the virus spreads means COVID-19 has infected and killed millions more people (covid19.who.int/) than recent outbreaks of SARS (www.nhs.uk/conditions/sars/) and Ebola (here).

The man also tells council officials that COVID-19 is less deadly than seasonal flu, misinformation that Reuters has repeatedly debunked (here , here and here).

“FACE MASKS ARE HARMFUL”

Adding to his argument of a conspiracy, the speaker claims that masks lower blood oxygen levels and cause health problems like pneumonia.

Reuters fact-checked this claim earlier in May: face masks do not affect the amount of oxygen you breathe, and evidence shows they are perfectly safe (here).

“THE VACCINE IS DEADLY AND UNNECESSARY”

The filmed speaker tells council employees that the COVID-19 dose is not a vaccine, but rather “genetic modification”. This is a baseless claim that has circulated throughout the pandemic.

It likely arose from confusion about new mRNA technology used in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which involve the injection of a small part of the virus’s genetic code (RNA) to stimulate immune response in a patient without an infection (here and here).

However, as Reuters has repeatedly explained (here , here and here), the mRNA from the vaccine does not alter the recipient’s DNA; it is broken down shortly after vaccination, and does not stay in the body (here).

The man also suggests that the vaccine is not needed because of treatments like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine “that work successfully all over the world” (here, timestamp 16.57). Again, this claim lacks evidence.

Ivermectin is a drug used to treat parasitic worms (here) and human trials did not suggest it was effective against COVID-19 (here and here). Medicine agencies in Europe and the United States advise against the use of ivermectin in relation to the novel coronavirus (here and here).

The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, touted by former U.S. president Donald Trump as a potential “game changer”, was also found to be “useless” against COVID-19 in a UK trial last year (here). Other studies concluded the treatment does more harm than good (here).

VERDICT

False. COVID-19 is a not a conspiracy, it is an infectious disease that has killed more than 3.3 million people to date (covid19.who.int/).

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts www.reuters.com/fact-check/about .

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