As the world braced for a new possible wave of Covid-19, misinformation regarding it also revived with the deadly virus. An old video of a group of doctors falsely claiming coronavirus is nothing but the seasonal flu virus is doing rounds on social media.
The viral video has now been attributed to World Health Organization (WHO) along with a claim that the WHO admitted its mistake and took a U-turn from its earlier position by calling coronavirus a seasonal flu virus.
Fact Crescendo received the viral video on our WhatsApp Tipline (9049053770) with fact-check requests.
We found that the viral claim is false. WHO has not declared Covid-19 the seasonal flu.
WHAT’S THE CLAIM?
In a viral video, a man in a suit among a group of people says, “This is a good message to people. We see no evidence medical pandemic. So, it looks like a ‘plan-demic’ and we all together say we don’t want this new normal certainly. And we don’t want to go to back to the old normal because the old normal created this situation of new normal. We want better normal, we want it together with you. Thank you very much, indeed.”
The text with this message reads – “Breaking News: WHO accepted its mistake and took a complete U-turn and said that Corona is a seasonal virus, it is a cough, cold and sore throat that occurs during the change of weather, there is no need to panic.”
First of all, we visited the WHO website and social media handles to check whether it declared Corona a seasonal flu virus. We did not find any such announcement. WHO still maintains that Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
We did not even come across any news reports about the so-called admission of a mistake and a supposed U-turn by WHO concerning Covid-19. Had WHO really said “corona as seasonal flu virus”, it would have been reported by the media from all over the world. The absence of such news is a clear sign of the viral claim’s inauthenticity.
Is Covid-19 A Seasonal Flu?
Covid-19 and Influenza (Flu) are two different diseases. It is both virologically and clinically inaccurate to describe COVID-19 as a type of flu.
Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) states that Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses that affect lungs and breathing.
They are caused by different viruses from two separate families of viruses. Covid-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) first identified in 2019. Flu is caused by infection with a flu virus (influenza viruses).
Both can give you a fever, cough, headaches, and body aches. But we cannot tell the difference between flu and COVID-19 by the symptoms alone. Specific testing is needed to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis.
Video from Covid-19 Deniers
Now that we established that WHO did not accept coronavirus as a seasonal flu virus and Covid-19 and Influenza (Flu) are not the same, let’s find out more about the viral clip.
With the help of a Google reverse image search on keyframes, we found that the viral clip was taken from a press conference organized by World Doctors Alliance (WDA) in October 2020. The original 18-minute video of the WDA press conference has been taken down by YouTube for violating its terms of service but you can find it here and here.
World Doctors Alliance (WDA) is a European-based group of current and former medical professionals and academics. The group was mainly formed to oppose Covid-19 regulations with a view that “there is no need for any lockdown restrictions and associated measures.”
WDA is known for spreading false and conspiratorial claims such as “Covid-19 is a hoax”, “vaccines cause widespread harm”, “there is no pandemic” et al.
The man speaking in the above viral clip is Heiko Schöning, a self-described “military doctor”.
According to European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO), he is a corona-denier from Germany who started spreading disinformation concerning Covid-19 as early as March 2020. He formed an association by the name of Doctors for the Truth in Germany which handed out certificates exempting citizens from the obligation to wear a mask upon request.
Hence, it is clear that a false claim has been attributed to WHO. The World Health Organization has not termed coronavirus as the seasonal flu virus. The viral video belongs to a group of corona-deniers known for spreading conspiratorial theories about Covid-19.
Title:WHO Did Not Declare Corona a Seasonal Virus; A False Claim Viral
Fact Check By: Mayur Deokar