Fact Check-Video of pandemic preparedness exercise taken out of context online

A video of a young woman who participated in a preparedness exercise for doctors in a German COVID-19 treatment center has been stripped of its context online.

Some social media users have inaccurately described the scene as showing a “crisis actor”, claiming it proves the COVID-19 pandemic has been staged.

The video shows the woman speaking to the camera in German while lying in a hospital bed. She holds up a set of instructions which tell her to “ring the bell and inform the staff” that she is struggling to breathe.

“SHOCKING: Crisis actor admits playing the part of a patient struggling with COVID-19,” reads part of a tweet shared with the clip (here). There have been at least 226,800 views at the time of writing.

“A REAL PANDEMIC wouldn't need Crisis ACTORS,” another person wrote on Facebook (here). Other iterations are viewable here , here , here and here .

However, the recorded scene does not disprove the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was filmed by Instagram user @OfficialMelissa on Sept. 10, 2020, during a pandemic preparedness exercise at Corona-Behandlungszentrum Jafféstrasse (CBZJ), in English: Corona treatment center Jafféstraße, in Berlin (here).

Conducted by the German Vivantes Network of Health, the exercise’s aim was to simulate all operational processes at the facility to ensure it can cope in the event of an emergency rise in COVID-19 infections (here).

‘OfficialMelissa’ was one of 70 extras who participated in the exercise as a fictitious patient.

“The admission, care, transfer and discharge of the fictitious corona patients were played through,” said Vivantes in a press release.

Daniel Segal, press officer for the Vivantes Network of Health, told Reuters that the various scenarios covered included shortness of breath, resuscitation, or individual requests for support, such as using the toilet or asking for a drink.

He added: “Such hospital exercises serve to prepare the health system as best as possible for various care scenarios. In order to be able to train under the most realistic conditions possible, extras are often used as patient actors for such exercises.”

On Sept. 14, 2020, ‘OfficialMelissa’ published a statement responding to the false allegations made about her videos here . At the time, German fact-checker Correctiv also debunked the claims here .


Missing context. The woman in this video was a “fictitious patient” during a training exercise at a COVID-19 treatment center in Germany. The video is not evidence that the pandemic has been staged.

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