for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up

Fact check: Natural remedies do not prevent or cure COVID-19, but evidence shows vaccines are effective

A Facebook video making various false claims about the COVID-19 pandemic has been shared widely online.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The video was uploaded on Feb. 15 and had gained over 1,000 shares at the time of publication (here). Various statements and opinions are expressed in the video, but this article will only address the primary claims.

“We don’t hear about COVID-19 cases anymore”

The speaker in the video says: “Now, all of a sudden, there’s been a shift and now all they’re talking about is how much [sic] people have got the vaccine now, we’re not even hearing of how much people are getting COVID still.” (2.14)

This statement is false. The UK government has vaccinated over 15 million people and the roll-out has been covered by the media, but it is inaccurate to say there is no longer media coverage or public debate about COVID-19 cases. The UK government publishes daily figures of the positive coronavirus tests on their website, alongside the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test, patients admitted to hospital, virus tests conducted and patients vaccinated (coronavirus.data.gov.uk/). This data is regularly reported by news outlets such as Reuters (here and here) and the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51768274).

“Why do you need the vaccine or masks when you can have natural remedies?”

The man continues: “Once again, if you can catch it and get the injection and still catch it, then what’s the point? I might as well just roll out with what I’ve got right now and if I catch it then I’m sure my body with the honey, ginger and lemon and certain other remedies that they still won’t tell you about.” The speaker goes on to say that wearing masks is not natural.

Firstly, there is no evidence suggesting “natural” remedies such as consuming honey, ginger or lemon are effective at preventing or curing COVID-19. Reuters has debunked many false claims about bogus preventative methods and treatments for the novel coronavirus including steam inhalation (here and here), vitamins C and E (here), baking soda and lemon juice (here) and herbs (here).

Secondly, the vaccines prevent symptomatic and severe effects of COVID-19 by creating an immune response against the SARS-CoV2 virus. Pfizer’s primary efficacy analysis published in November 2020 showed its vaccine was 95% effective against COVID-19 (here), Moderna filed an efficacy of 94.% the same month (here) and AstraZeneca’s results in February 2021 showed 76% effectiveness after the first dose and 82% after the second (here).

Experts were concerned that the UK variant would reduce the vaccine’s efficacy (here), but evidence so far shows that the vaccines offer similar levels of protection against the new strain (here , here and here).

However, scientists do not yet know whether COVID-19 vaccinations will reduce transmission because this was not tested in the trials (here and here). As Reuters explained in a previous fact check, researchers need to look deeper into how the vaccine works in the body – whether it prevents an individual getting infected altogether, or whether it simply stops a person becoming ill.

With the latter, this could mean the virus continues to replicate in the nose and throat and is still able to spread (here). This uncertainty about transmission does not mean the vaccine is pointless, because it prevents people who do catch it from becoming seriously ill or dying.

Thirdly, Reuters has addressed false claims that masks are not effective at preventing transmission of the novel coronavirus (here , here , here and here).

“If there was a real pandemic, we would be able to see it”

The same speaker adds: “At the same time, the NHS ain’t [sic] overwhelmed, not in a bad way like I want the NHS to be overwhelmed, but they should be overwhelmed. If this is a pandemic they should be overwhelmed, there should be people crawling and falling out of hospital. There should be funeral parlours through the roof. It should be natural; we should be able to see this. We’re not seeing this; we’re seeing normal daily life.” (4.15)

It is inaccurate to say “normal daily life” has continued throughout the pandemic. According to the Office for National Statistics, the overall number of deaths registered in 2020 was 75,925 higher than we would expect when looking at the five-year average between 2015 and 2019 (here).

British authorities were forced to set up temporary morgues in some areas due to increased deaths in the new year (here) and the government’s chief scientist likened UK hospitals to war zones (here).

The National Association of Funeral Directors told Reuters that Britain’s funeral directors arranged around 90,000 more funerals in 2020 than in recent years, with 30% more funerals taking place in January and February 2021 compared to normal (here).

Despite these facts, misinformation minimising the impact of COVID-19 continues to be shared online with social media posts repeating false claims that hospitals are empty, deaths are normal and undertakers are quiet (here and here).

Moreover, a pandemic does not require people to be “crawling and falling out of hospital”. The term is used to describe an epidemic or outbreak of disease that has spread to multiple countries on several continents and affects an exceptionally large number of people (here). The ongoing spread of COVID-19 meets this definition (here).

VERDICT

False. The speaker in this video reiterates debunked claims that the media are not reporting COVID-19 cases, that there are no signs of a pandemic, and that vaccines are pointless compared with natural remedies.

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

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up