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Fact check: Video contains various false claims over the nature, testing and impact of COVID-19

An Instagram user has posted a video, since viewed over 64,000 times, in which she makes a series of claims about COVID-19, including describing it as laboratory-made and saying no bus drivers or police officers have died due to the virus. A number of these claims are wholly or partially false. This check will examine some of those claims.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Claim 1: COVID-19 has been patented by Bill Gates and the SARS-Cov-2 virus causing it has been manufactured (timecode 2.03 here) .

Bill Gates did not patent COVID-19 or a COVID-19 vaccine. Reuters has fact-checked this claim before (here , here) .

The claim that the virus has been manufactured has been denied by experts, who believe that it was transmitted from animals to humans. The World Health Organization says “all available evidence” suggests the virus has a “zoonotic source” (here) .

Claim 2: No police staff, bus drivers, delivery drivers or shop workers died due to COVID-19 (timecode 6.32).

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) data up to May 25, 16 police officer deaths involving COVID-19 were recorded in England and Wales (here) .

The same data shows dozens of retail workers and drivers (couriers in the data set) died because of the virus, as well as 54 bus drivers. Transport for London said it will review the deaths among London bus workers (here) .

Claim 3: PCR tests can detect even a common cold, and so people are testing positive even when they have no symptoms (timecode 8.11) .

This is not correct. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are specific as they work to detect the RNA found in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that is responsible for COVID-19 (here , here , here ) . People may test positive for COVID-19 even if they show no symptoms, but the test is not registering the common cold as COVID-19.

Claim 4: Media outlets are now using the word coronavirus, rather than calling it COVID (timecode 9.54).

This claim is false. Reuters, aligned with other global media, has been using the term COVID-19 to refer to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, when reporting on the topic. The Reuters COVID-19 global tracker is visible here .

Claim 5: There have been no flu deaths since March 28 (timecode 10.20) .

This claim is incorrect. Statistics from the ONS, published on Sept. 2, 2020, examine deaths not from COVID-19 from Dec. 28, 2019 to July 10, 2020. “Influenza and pneumonia” is plotted on a graphic showing “leading causes of death” (tinyurl.com/yy7jpdy6) .

The ONS release says: “Deaths due to influenza and pneumonia were below the five-year average earlier in the year probably because of the relatively mild winter and low levels of circulating flu. After a brief rise in Weeks 11 to 18, the levels are back to slightly below average levels for this time of year, despite it no longer being the season for winter flu” ( tinyurl.com/y2tbeh5q ).

Claim 6: At least 16,000 people have died from lockdown (timecode 11.55).

This claim is partly true, but the figure is an estimate for 12 months counting from March 2020. According to ONS, 16,000 excess deaths are estimated due to changes in emergency and social care (here ).

Claim 7: The pandemic has not been proven because the virus has not been isolated or proven to exist (timecode 12.30) .

This claim is also false. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus was identified by Chinese authorities on January 7, 2020 (tinyurl.com/y5at3vke). It has since been studied by numerous researchers globally, just some of which are referred to here .

VERDICT

False. This video contains a mixture of claims and opinions. Several of the main claims regarding the nature and impact of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are false.

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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