COVID-19 falsely linked to bacteria


A tabloid and Facebook groups in the Philippines have been sharing a false claim that Italy’s health ministry has discovered that COVID-19 is caused by bacteria—not a virus—supposedly amplified by 5G radiation.


The erroneous claim, which began circulating in the Philippines on May 24, also says medicines for pain, inflammation and blood clots, including aspirin and paracetamol, are enough to cure patients who purportedly die mainly of thrombosis or blood clotting.


The claim accuses the World Health Organization of deceit, charging the international organization with drawing up a protocol requiring the immediate cremation of COVID-19 fatalities to mask the “secret” surrounding the disease.


The claim is published in at least two versions.


The lengthy version, shared in more than two dozen Facebook groups and the basis for an article of the tabloid People’s Tonight, alleged that doctors in Italy discovered the secret when they broke WHO’s protocol and conducted autopsies on people who died of COVID-19.


The viral post reads in part:

NATUKLASAN NG ITALIAN MINISTRY OF HEALTH ang LIHIM na bumabalot sa COVID19. Ang sakit na ito ay HINDI pala LIKHA ng VIRUS kundi ng BACTERIA na pinalala ng 5G ELECTRONIC RADIATION…
SA PAG-AUTOPSY NILA DOON NALAMAN ANG SANHI NG PAGKAMATAY NG MAYSAKIT ay THROMBOSIS o blood clotting sa buong katawan partikular na sa UTAK, PUSO at BAGÂ (sanhi para di makadaloy ang oxygen), INFLAMMATION o pamamaga, ANG GAMOT AY SIMPLING 1) ANTI-COAGULANT o pampalabnaw ng dugo 2) ANTI-BACTERIALS 3) ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES 4) ASPIRIN 100mg. 5) PARACETAMOL
(The Italian Ministry of Health has uncovered the secret shrouding COVID-19. This disease is not cause by a virus but a bacterium aggravated by 5G electronic radiation…
(In their autopsy, the doctors discovered the cause of death was thrombosis or blood clotting in the entire body, particularly the brain, heart and lungs (which obstructed oxygen flow), inflammation or swelling.
(The cures are simply 1) anti-coagulant or blood thinner; 2) anti-bacterials; 3) anti-inflammatories; 4) 100mg aspirin; 5: paracetamol.)

It also said patients who took these medicines got well, and 14,000 were being sent home every day. The patients need not be admitted to intensive care unit or put on a ventilator:

NAKAPAGPAPAUWI NA SILA NGAYON NG 14,000 NA PASYENTE BAWAT ARAW NA PINAAGALING NG MGA SIMPLING GAMOT NA ITO. HINDI KAILANGAN ANG I.C.U. O VENTILATOR (They now send home 14,000 patients every day who recovered through these simple medicines. There was no need for ICU or a ventilator).

The other version simply states:

ASPIRIN 100mg or APRONAX PARACETAMOL lang pala katapat ng COVID-19 batay sa libo-libong GUMALING sa ITALY? BACTERIA ANG COVID AT HINDI VIRUS? Niloko tayo WHO (ASPIRIN 100mg or APRONAX PARACETAMOL is all that’s needed against COVID-19 based on the thousands who were healed in Italy? COVID IS BACTERIA AND NOT A VIRUS? WHO fooled us).

COVID-19 is caused by coronavirus


In January, a team of Chinese doctors already confirmed that the disease was caused a novel coronavirus that was provisionally named 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and later called SARS-CoV-2.


The doctors had collected genome sequences from nine patients, including eight who had visited the seafood market in Wuhan, Hunan where the outbreak began.


Their findings were published online in the British medical journal The Lancet on Jan. 29, a day before WHO declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.”


WHO named the disease COVID-19 on Feb. 11 and declared the outbreak a pandemic on March 11.


WHO said the disease was caused by a virus that originated in bats:

The full genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 from the early human cases and the sequences of many other virus isolated from human cases from China and all over the world since then show that SARS-CoV-2 has an ecological origin in bat populations. All available evidence to date suggests that the virus has a natural animal origin.

Italy’s health ministry unequivocally declared in its website that COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2:

The novel coronavirus, which is responsible for the respiratory disease now named COVID-19, is closely related to the SARS-CoV and is genetically classified in the genus Betacoronavirus, subgenus Sarbecovirus.

No connection between 5G, COVID-19


The role of 5G cell phone technology in spreading COVID-19 is promoted in a conspiracy theory that WHO and other agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, have debunked. (Conspiracy theory links pandemic to 5G, Mislatel, RFID chips)


WHO said:

5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19
Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.
COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose.

WHO protocol on cadavers


Contrary to the claim, WHO never discouraged autopsies on bodies of infected people or pushed for the immediate cremation of the cadavers.


In fact, WHO’s March 24 guidance for all those who tend to the bodies of persons who have died of suspected or confirmed COVID-19, including public health authorities, said:

It is a common myth that persons who have died of a communicable disease should be cremated, but this is not true. Cremation is a matter of cultural choice and available resources.

WHO said there is no evidence that people get infected from exposure to the bodies of persons who died from COVID-19. But it recommended necessary hand hygiene and personal protective equipment before attending to the cadavers.


It said only the lungs of patients with pandemic influenza, if handled improperly during an autopsy, can be infectious.


COVID-19 and complications


COVID-19 is an infectious disease. Blood clots have been identified as one complication, but there are others that require different treatment approaches.


WHO said most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.


The Mayo Clinic said complications include pneumonia and trouble breathing; organ failure; heart problems; acute respiratory distress syndrome; blood clots; acute kidney injury and additional viral and bacterial infections.


No cure yet for COVID-19


The medicines the false claim promotes as cure for COVID-19 include paracetamol, or acetaminophen, and aspirin and apronax, which are nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).


WHO said there is no vaccine or cure yet for the novel coronavirus disease. It does not recommend any specific medicine to prevent or treat the virus but encourages infected people to receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms.


It also said studies so far show no evidence that NSAIDs worsen the condition of COVID-19 patients. (The latest from WHO: No evidence that ibuprofen worsens COVID-19)


In its website, the Italian health ministry also stressed there is no specific treatment for COVID-19 and as such, patients are treated based on their symptoms:

Treatment remains mainly based on a symptomatic approach, providing supportive therapies (e.g. oxygen therapy, fluid management) to infected people, which can nevertheless be highly effective.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses as they only work on bacterial infections, it added.


The health ministry said clinical trials are underway for the treatment of COVID-19 and refers website users to the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) for information about the drugs made available to COVID-19 patients. Aspirin isn't on the AIFA list.


The use of ventilators has drawn mixed reactions, but most doctors only put patients with the worst effects of the infection on them, according to reports.


Daily recoveries in Italy never reached 14,000


Global statistics on the coronavirus pandemic from the Johns Hopkins University show that the highest number of daily recoveries in Italy was 8,014 on May 6 followed by 4,917 on May 15.


Never did it experience 14,00 new recoveries a day, contrary to the claim.


As of May 15, Italy reported 141,981 patients have recovered from the disease.


The false claim has found its way to about 70 Philippines Facebook groups, generating more than 13,000 interactions, data from the social media monitoring tool Crowdtangle.


Among the earliest to post the lengthy version was the Facebook group “SSS(E-1 & Static Report), PhilHealth(MDR), PagIbig(MID no.), POEA(OEC form).”


The group “Senior Citizens Association Philippines Inc. (SCAPI)” was one of the first to share the terse version.


References


Agenzia italiana del Farmaco. (n.d.). Drugs usable for the treatment of COVID-19 disease [Translation]. Retrieved from https://www.aifa.gov.it/aggiornamento-sui-farmaci-utilizzabili-per-il-trattamento-della-malattia-covid19


Conspiracy theory links pandemic to 5G, Mislatel, RFID chips. (2020, May 12). FactRakers. Retrieved from https://www.factrakers.org/post/conspiracy-theory-links-pandemic-to-5g-mislatel-rfid-chips)


Coronavirus: What are ventilators and why are they important? (2020, April 16). BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52036948


Ducharme, Jamie. (2020, April 16). Why ventilators may not be working as well for COVID-19 patients as doctors hoped. Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/5820556/ventilators-covid-19/


Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2020, April 9). Coronavirus rumor control. Retrieved from https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/rumor-control


How Italian doctors disobeyed WHO and discovered the secrets of coronavirus. (2020, May 24). People’s Tonight. Retrieved from https://journal.com.ph/editorial/mysteries/how-italian-doctors-disobeyed-who-and-discovered-secrets-coronavirus


Johns Hopkins University. (n.d.). COVID-19 dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). Retrieved from https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html


Lu, R. et al. (2020, January 30). Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding. The Lancet, 395, 565–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30251-8


Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20479963


Ministero della Salute. (2020, May 23). FAQ - Covid-19, questions and answers [Translation]. Retrieved from http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/nuovocoronavirus/dettaglioFaqNuovoCoronavirus.jsp?lingua=english&id=230#6


The latest from WHO: No evidence that ibuprofen worsens COVID-19. (2020, April 22). FactRakers. Retrieved from https://www.factrakers.org/post/the-latest-from-who-no-evidence-that-ibuprofen-worsens-covid-19


Willyard, C. (2020, May 8). Coronavirus blood-clot mystery intensifies. Nature. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01403-8


World Health Organization. (2020, April 23). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 94. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200423-sitrep-94-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=b8304bf0_4


World Health Organization. (2020, March 24). Infection prevention and control for the safe management of a dead body in the context of COVID-19: interim guidance. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/publications-detail/infection-prevention-and-control-for-the-safe-management-of-a-dead-body-in-the-context-of-covid-19-interim-guidance


World Health Organization. (n.d.). Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1


World Health Organization. (n.d.). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

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