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Fact check: The virus that causes COVID-19 exists, can be tested for and is not the flu

A social media post has claimed that the virus that causes COVID-19 does not exist, that it cannot be tested for, and that the illness is actually just the flu. These claims are false.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The post can be seen (here). There are numerous elements of speculation in the text but this fact check will focus on three key claims made by the author.

CLAIM 1

The central claim put forward in the post is that there “is no virus” that causes COVID-19, and that the pandemic is a “Total Lie”.

The name of the virus that causes the disease COVID-19 is Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (tinyurl.com/t82w9ka) .

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus was identified by Chinese authorities on January 7, 2020 (here) .

The heath agency has so far recorded 894,983 deaths as a result of the pandemic, and over 27 million confirmed cases ( covid19.who.int/ ) .

CLAIM 2

The author goes on to claim that “CoVid is the Flu” and that this year “the same amount of people are getting the FLU, but they are just calling it “CoVid19 ~ the Deadly Virus””.

COVID-19 is not the same as the flu. Even though influenza and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses.

While COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2, the flu is caused by influenza viruses. SARS-CoV-2 is a coronavirus, not an influenza virus. (here) .

Fortnightly flu reports are published by the UK government (here) .

In the last four publications, no samples reported through the Respiratory DataMart System for England tested positive for influenza. Most cases of flu occur between December and February, according to the Vaccine Knowledge Project, an academic research group within the University of Oxford ( tinyurl.com/y2r99y2u ) .

Meanwhile more than 45,000 cases of COVID-19 were detected in the UK between July 23 and September 2, 2020, of which 39,000 were in England (coronavirus.data.gov.uk/cases ) .

CLAIM 3

The post alleges that the “RT-PCR test was never meant to test for any virus”, including the virus that causes COVID-19. It instead claims that it tests for chromosome 8, one of the 23 pairs of chromosomes found in humans.

Multiple Reuters fact checks have debunked claims that the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test used for COVID-19 is unable to detect SARS-CoV-2 specifically (here) (here) (here).

As previously reported, the PCR test works by detecting the genetic sequences of viruses, but not the viruses themselves.

The PCR test for COVID-19 detects the presence of the RNA of the virus in the swab sample (here) . Each virus has its own pattern of RNA material, and the test for coronavirus tests for the RNA material of SARS-CoV-2 specifically.

VERDICT

False. COVID-19 is a real disease and it is not the same as the flu. PCR tests detect the genetic sequences of viruses, allowing the test to show the presence of a particular virus.

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

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