Viral video contains several false pandemic claims

7 April 2021
What was claimed

The Covid-19 vaccines in use are poorly tested experimental vaccines.

Our verdict

This is not true. The currently approved Covid-19 vaccines have all been proven safe and effective in clinical trials.

What was claimed

The reported numbers of cases of Covid-19 are misleading because asymptomatic people with a positive test would not normally be counted as a “case”.

Our verdict

It is a common practice to count a “case” without symptoms for many infectious diseases.

What was claimed

85% of people who test positive for Covid wore masks always or often.

Our verdict

This comes from a study that found a slightly higher proportion of people who tested negative wore masks, and were less likely to visit restaurants, where mask wearing is difficult.

What was claimed

Bill Gates is a eugenicist who wants to reduce the population of the world.

Our verdict

This is not true. Mr Gates has promoted improved healthcare, which he has said may cause the world population to grow more slowly.

A viral video on Facebook includes a number of false and misleading claims about the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The video consists of a woman recommending a publication in New Zealand called The Real News, which she summarises and reads from.

There are a number of false or misleading claims in this video. This article considers some of them. There are  many other claims included in the video that we have not checked, which may or may not be true. 

 

Claim 1: "Poorly tested experimental vaccines" are in use against Covid-19

We have written about this topic previously

All three of the vaccines that are currently being used in the UK have passed the normal stages of clinical trials and have been shown to be safe and effective. 

The AstraZeneca vaccine uses a technique that had already been successfully used against other infections

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, are mRNA vaccines. They are the first mRNA vaccines to be rolled out to the general public. 

However, as we have written before, it is wrong to call them “experimental”, because they have already been proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials.

 

Claim 2: “A positive [Covid] test is not a case.” 

The article shown in the video also says: “Historically only patients who demonstrated actual symptoms of an illness were considered a case. Publishing positive test results as “CASES" is grossly misleading and needlessly alarming.”

This is misleading. 

Professor of Health Protection with a specialism in medical microbiology, Professor Paul Hunter, told Full Fact: “We often do count asymptomatic infections for other infectious diseases especially where asymptomatic individuals pose a risk to others as is the case with COVID”. He also cautioned that this is important because “for COVID the big issue is that truly asymptomatic people can still and do transmit the infection”.

A “case” is classified by a case definition which sets the criteria for the diagnosis of a condition or infection.

A case definition may include clinical criteria (symptoms), laboratory testing, and sometimes specific epidemiological stipulations on a time period or location. 

Somebody may test positive for an infectious disease long before having symptoms, and this would be considered a case.

Other examples of infectious conditions that may be asymptomatic but would be considered a “case” after a positive test include certain forms of hepatitis, malaria, forms of polio, varicella zoster (which causes chicken pox). 

Public Health England uses the following case definition for counting confirmed Covid-19 cases in England: “COVID-19 cases are identified by taking specimens from people and testing them for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If the test is positive, this is referred to as a case.”

Testing asymptomatic people for infection, and counting them as a case if they test positive is not unusual practice. 

 

Claim 3:“CDC reveals 85% of positive covid cases wore face masks always or often”. 

This claim has been previously fact checked by Reuters

It comes from a paper from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which did show that both 85% of positive Covid-19 cases and 89% of people who tested negative reported wearing masks always or often. 

The study was not designed to investigate the impact of mask wearing in general on transmission of Covid. Its focus was on the risks of going to places where masks are difficult to use.

It found that similar proportions of people with and without Covid went shopping, which may be easy to do with a mask, in the two weeks before becoming ill. On the other hand, 41% of people testing positive for Covid-19 went to a restaurant, where masks are difficult to wear, compared with only 28% of the people who tested negative. 

A CDC spokesperson, Jason McDonald, told Reuters: “The aim of the study was to assess possible situations for community exposure, not mask use.” The study, McDonald noted, found that “going to places where mask use and social distancing cannot be maintained...might be an important risk factor for COVID-19.”

There is some evidence that surgical masks and face coverings can reduce transmission of Covid-19. The potential benefit of mask wearing has also been demonstrated for other respiratory viruses. 

 

Claim 4: Bill Gates is “a eugenicist who wants to reduce the population of the world”

Bill Gates has been the subject of many Covid-19 conspiracy theories. A common claim is that Bill Gates is using vaccinations to reduce the world’s population and enact a eugenics programme. 

This has been previously fact checked by Reuters and Snopes and originates from claims that Mr Gates said that “three billion people need to die”, and that his dad “ran” Planned Parenthood. 

Mr Gates was alleged to have said “three billion people need to die” by a man speaking at the “International Tribunal for Natural Justice”. There is no evidence that Mr Gates ever said this. What he did say, in a TED talk in 2010, was that: 

“The world today has 6.8 billion people. That's headed up to about nine billion. Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, 10 or 15 percent. But there, we see an increase of about 1.3. ”

The talk was about reducing global carbon dioxide emissions to zero. It was not describing a plan to use vaccinations to kill people. In fact, his hope for vaccinations is quite the opposite—that good healthcare would lower the risk of death, thereby encouraging parents to have fewer children. This is about slowing the growth of the world population, not reducing the population that exists now.

In an article in Forbes in 2011, Mr Gates said that whilst his initial work in public health focused on contraception, he switched focus to vaccinations, when it became clear that reduced mortality rates and better childhood survival allows individuals to make the choice to reduce their family size, and therefore reduces birth rates. 

Full Fact has previously written about many other false claims about Mr Gates before.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because Covid-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective, a positive test indicates a “case” of many infectious diseases, and Bill Gates is not a eugenicist who wants to reduce the world population.

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