A recent post circulating on Facebook Messenger among Filipinos wrongly claims that more people die of dengue worldwide than of COVID-19.
This erroneous claim is tacked on to an older, longer post being shared on Facebook by Philippine pages and groups rehashing several conspiracy theories about the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
One theory is the supposed scheme of China, the World Health Organization, Antonio Fauci of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and “paid” scientists to exaggerate the severity of the virus to help big pharmaceutical firms and “globalists” like American billionaire Bill Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation sow fear, wreck economies and eventually control the world.
The post even added Pope Francis to its list.
The post also said the pandemic is linked to plans to issue digital IDs and implant microchips in people to track them through 5G mobile technology.
Borrowing the title of a viral two-hour video documentary containing COVID-19 conspiracy theories, the post said the world is not going through a pandemic but a “plandemic.” Some pages and groups that shared the post link to the video.
The Facebook post also repeated unfounded claims about flu vaccines (they make people sicker) and face masks (they restrict oxygen intake, making people more susceptible to viruses).
The Messenger post added this one-liner about TB and dengue:
MAS MADAMI PA NAMATAY SA TB AT DENGUE PERO HINDI BINILANG (More people die of tuberculosis and dengue but aren’t being counted)
Meanwhile, the Facebook post, dating around May 23, claimed that Italy’s death toll from COVID-19 hasn’t really reached 25,000 as reported by corrupt journalists.
It also said 88 to 90 percent of COVID-19 patients across the world have recovered and 10 to 12 percent have died.
The Messenger post erred in saying annual deaths from dengue exceed COVID-19 fatalities.
The yearly death toll for dengue reaches only 22,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or 25,000, according to the World Mosquito Program.
As of June 4, deaths arising from COVID-19 have already reached 382,867 since WHO issued its first situation report on the novel coronavirus on Jan. 20, or less than five months ago. Governments submit the statistics to WHO.
Meanwhile, it is too early to conclude that TB deaths outnumber COVID-19 fatalities.
While WHO reported that a total of 1.5 million people worldwide died of tuberculosis in 2018, including those with HIV, the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in China last December, has not ended.
Contrary to the claim of the Facebook post, Italy’s death toll already surpassed 25,000 on April 22, according to WHO. It recorded 33,601 deaths as of June 4.
Recovery and case-fatality rates for COVID-19 also vary among countries.
The global average for recoveries so far stands at 43 percent of the total confirmed cases as of June 4, a far cry from the 88 to 90 percent stated in the Facebook post. But some countries do have high recovery rates such as Brunei and Cambodia, each averaging 98 percent to date.
The Facebook post’s figures on COVID-19 deaths—10 to 12 percent—are also off. Globally, the case fatality rate (the number of deaths out of the number of confirmed cases) averages 6 percent as of June 4.
COVID-19 and flu
The Facebook post also erroneously claimed COVID-19 and the flu are alike:
According to virologists and doctors, covid is just like flu because they are caused by a similar type of corona virus. Yung covid ay parang flu lang talaga yun pero birainwash tayo ng mga globalists na nakakatakot yun para macontrol nila ang buong mundo at iyan nga ang nangyayari ngayon (that Covid is really like the flu but glolablists are brainwashing us so they can control the whole world and that’s what’s happening now).
The U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine categorically states:
COVID-19 is different from flu
While COVID-19 and the flu are both respiratory diseases, the National Academies said COVID-19 is an entirely new disease caused by a newly discovered type of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, while the flu is caused by influenza viruses.
Several symptoms of COVID-19 are common with the flu, but COVID-19 symptoms come on gradually while flu symptoms typically come on quickly, it said.
WHO said COVID-19 causes more severe disease than seasonal influenza.
The National Academies also said COVID-19 may spread more easily than the flu, infecting more people, because of the lack of immunity to the disease.
And while there are medicines to treat the flu and a vaccine to prevent it, there is neither for COVID-19.
The conspiracy theories and other claims in the Facebook post have been fact-checked by FactRakers and various groups, including Politifact, a Pulitzer prize winner.
Below are some fact checks on COVID-19 and:
China: What we know about the source of the coronavirus pandemic
Bill Gates: Bill Gates and George Soros are targets of another COVID-19 conspiracy theory
Antonio Fauci: Plandemic: A documentary full of false conspiracy theories about the coronavirus
5G mobile technology: Conspiracy theory links pandemic to 5G, Mislatel, RFID chips
Face masks: Fact check: Face masks do not weaken the immune system; It is not true that masks cause hypoxia. This hoax is now viral and dangerous
Data from the social media monitoring tool Crowdtangle show that the Facebook post was shared by 39 Facebook groups and pages that generated 1,500 interactions.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). About dengue: What you need to know. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/about/index.html
Maragakis, L. (2020, June 5). Coronavirus disease 2019 vs. the flu Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-disease-2019-vs-the-flu
The Plandemic - Coronavirus, 5G and vaccine deception - Full documentary [Video File]. (2020, May 8).
U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. (n.d.). COVID-19 is different from the flu. Retrieved from https://sites.nationalacademies.org/BasedOnScience/covid-19-is-different-from-the-flu/index.htm
WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 3 March 2020 (2020, March 3). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19---3-march-2020#:~:text=COVID%2D19%20causes%20more,%25%20of%20those%20infected
World Mosquito Program. (n.d.). Dengue. Retrieved from https://www.worldmosquitoprogram.org/en/learn/mosquito-borne-diseases/dengue#:~:text=Each%20year%2C%20an%20estimated%20390,That's%20each%20year
World Health Organization. (2019, March 11). WHO launches new global influenza strategy. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/11-03-2019-who-launches-new-global-influenza-strategy
World Health Organization. (2020, March 2). Dengue and severe dengue. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dengue-and-severe-dengue
World Health Organization. (2020, March 24). Tuberculosis. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tuberculosis
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, June 4). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situation Report – 136. Retrieved fromhttps://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200604-covid-19-sitrep-136.pdf?sfvrsn=fd36550b_2