A mistake in the New York Post has been misconstrued as a sign of Covid-19 conspiracy

13 May 2021
What was claimed

A picture showing people unwell on the streets of India was taken during a gas leak in 2020, not during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021. This suggests that casualties from the current wave of Covid-19 in India are being exaggerated, and that Covid-19 is a conspiracy.

Our verdict

This image was incorrectly used in a New York Post article about the Covid-19 pandemic, but it actually comes from a video taken in 2020 after a gas leak in Visakhapatnam, India. The outlet has since corrected the mistake, and there is nothing to suggest it is evidence of a conspiracy.

Claims that media outlets are reusing images of people injured following a gas leak in India to illustrate a story on the Covid-19 death toll in the country have been circulating online. Some Instagram users have suggested that this is propaganda being used to drive a false narrative around Covid-19.

Pictures featured in a New York Post article about the pandemic were actually taken from footage following a gas leak in Visakhapatnam, India in May 2020. They do not depict scenes related to the current Covid-19 crisis in India in 2021. Screenshots of the article and original stories about the gas leak have been widely shared and we’ve written about similar claims around this article before.

However, there is no evidence to suggest this was anything more than an error, and The New York Post has since removed the video that was featured in the screenshot from the article, with a correction note that says: “An earlier version of this story included an Eyepress video provided by Reuters, which incorrectly identified gas leak victims as COVID-19 victims.” It has also changed the headline to remove mention of bodies in the streets.

There has been a large increase in numbers of cases and deaths from Covid-19 in India over recent months, with confirmed cases rising to more than 300,000 per day, and a considerable death toll. Although the image was mistakenly used, this does not mean that the pandemic is fictitious or part of a conspiracy.

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