A video of a panel of doctors is being shared widely with a description that they are WHO doctors who have taken a complete ‘U-turn’ on their stance on COVID-19 pandemic. The 4-minute video entails several unsubstantiated claims including COVID-19 being a normal flu and the coronavirus patients do not have to isolate or quarantine themselves, among others. Let us verify the claims made in the post.
Claim: WHO Doctors taking a U-turn on quarantine and social distancing norms during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fact: The speakers in the video are not WHO doctors. It is a group of doctors alliance who are spreading false news about the COVID-19 pandemic on how social distancing, quarantine, or isolation are not required to combat the spread of COVID-19. Thus, the claim made in the post is FALSE.
The video is claimed to have a panel of WHO doctors who challenged the veracity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the description of the video claims that WHO doctors have taken a complete ‘U-turn’ on their stance on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The doctors in the video are not WHO doctors but are a part of World Doctor Alliance group. The first spokesperson identified as Dr. Elke De Klerk, General practitioner, claimed that ‘we do not have a pandemic and COVID-19 is a normal flu virus’. However, the WHO has declared that the world is currently reeling under a pandemic. In fact, the CDC has clearly declared that it is a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, not a strain of influenza.
Dr. Elke De Klerk continues to claim that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests have been giving false positive results in about 89-94% of the cases which is false. While the probability for false positives and negatives is a matter of concern, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine reassured that the margin of error for false positives is estimated in the range of 0.8 -4%, while the range for false negatives is 2-33% in the UK. Similarly, the New England Journal of Medicine’s research also claims the range for false negatives to be 2-29%.
This was followed by Prof. Dolores Cahill, a professor at the medical school at the University College Dublin in Ireland claiming that there have only been 98 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland since April. She further claimed that these deaths would have been prevented had the patients received timely medical attention.
Claim: A professor at the medical school at the University College Dublin claimed that there have been only 98 COVID-19 deaths in Ireland since April 2020.
Fact: According to WHO COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 1922 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland. Thus, the claim made in the post is FALSE.
However, according to COVID-19 Ireland statistics dashboard, 1922 people have died of COVID-19 in Ireland. In fact, the Irish government announced that from October 19, 2020, it was imposing tough new restrictions to slow the spread of the disease. Following this, Prof. Cahill has been asked to resign as Vice-Chair of the European Union scientific committee owing to her claims on COVID-19 in the video.
The rest of the video had other doctors claiming that the lockdowns have proven to be both futile and detrimental on economies. The entire panel discussion has been subsequently removed from YouTube for violating its terms of service.
Also, the video description on WHO taking a complete U-turn is from another false viral video clip, taken out of context from a Press Conference on 08 June 2020 when COVID-19 technical lead, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove stated that asymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is rare.
However, the World Health Organization has not said that social distancing, quarantine, or isolation is not needed to combat the spread of COVID-19. Current WHO guidelines maintain that COVID-19 is a contagious disease and all the necessary precautions including isolation or quarantine must be followed and treated accordingly.