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RT-PCR Covid-19 test detects genetic material of new coronavirus, and ‘inventor’ died before outbreak

What is “the Truth About the TEST”? “The COVID-19 Test is called an RT PCR test which stands for reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction,” claims a message posted on Facebook in South Africa on 10 September 2020.

“The test does NOT…I repeat…does NOT test for a virus.” Instead, it “amplifies” genetic material – “makes it larger” – and so can give anyone a positive result for coronavirus infection. The post makes a lot of dodgy claims.

Danish doctor accurately quoted on masks and Covid-19, but graphic misleading

A graphic widely shared on Facebook in South Africa in August 2020 draws links between wearing masks and deaths from Covid-19 in the small Scandinavian country of Denmark.

“Denmark – no masks”, its header reads. It then gives the number of deaths in Denmark during the “2018 Flu season” as 2,103 and from Covid-19, by 8 August 2020, as the much lower 617.The graphic shows a photo of a man in doctor’s scrubs. He is identified as “Dr Henning Bundgaard, chief physician at Denmark’s Rigshospitalet”. There are a number of problems with the graphic.

Infrared thermometers are safe and don’t damage the pineal gland

A worrying message widely shared on Facebook warns that infrared thermometers may be “causing potential health issues by aiming an infrared ray to the pineal gland”.

The message says the thermometers, commonly used to measure temperature when screening for Covid-19, “target the pineal gland, which is located directly in the centre of the forehead, with an infrared ray”. This is all inaccurate.

No, unwashed face masks won’t cause legionnaires disease

Wearing the same face mask repeatedly without washing it can cause legionnaires disease, according to a Facebook post and a WhatsApp message Africa Check received in early August 2020.

The message claims a man called a radio talk show to say his wife had been hospitalised with severe Covid-19 symptoms after she had worn the same face mask “every day all day long” but had been legionnaire's disease. But could unwashed face masks cause legionnaires disease? There is no accuracy in this.

Immanuel vindicated? France hasn’t approved hydroxychloroquine as Covid-19 treatment – and drug found to be harmful

“DR STELLA IMMANUEL VINDICATED AS FRANCE APPROVES DRUG FOR COVID 19 TREATMENT,” declares a message circulating on Facebook in South Africa in early August 2020.

The drug is hydroxychloroquine, which US president Donald Trump promoted as a Covid-19 treatment in March and April.

In July, Immanuel came under fire after she posted a video in which she claimed she had successfully treated more than 350 Covid-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine. Facebook and Twitter took the video down for promoting misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic. But has France now approved hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment? This is incorrect.

Saliva tests for Covid-19 exist, but less accurate than nasal tests

A screenshot of a social media post, shared on Facebook, says it’s illogical that nasal swabs instead of mouth swabs are used to test for coronavirus infection when the virus is so contagious it can be spread in droplets of saliva.

But the argument doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Black seed oil medicinal, but not proven cure for Covid-19

A Facebook post claims black seed oil is a “solution” to Covid-19 as the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, said it “cures all diseases”.

Is it correct to say that the oil of black seed, also known as black cumin, cures Covid-19? Current scientific evidence doesn't support this.

Pax herbal remedy not approved as Covid-19 treatment, says Nigeria’s drug control agency

Nigeria’s food and drug control agency has approved a certain herbal mix as a treatment for Covid-19, claims a message circulating widely on Facebook since 10 July 2020.

But the agency says claims that it has approved the remedy to treat Covid-19 are 'wrong and inaccurate'.

No WHO ‘U-turn’ on coronavirus patients and quarantine

The World Health Organization has “made a complete U turn and said that #coronavirus patients doesn’t need to be isolated or quarantined”, a post on social media claims.

The WHO advises that people who test positive for Covid-19 should be isolated or quarantined to stop the disease from spreading to others.

Has the organisation now withdrawn this advice and said Covid-19 “cannot even transmit from one patient to another”? No, it hasn't.

No, mRNA candidate vaccine for Covid-19 doesn’t cause ‘irreversible genetic damage’

A Covid-19 vaccine will cause “irreversible genetic damage” to the human body, according to a message quoting “German naturopath Anette Lillinger” that’s been widely shared on Facebook. One version claims it would be a “crime against humanity”.

The message mentions “the so-called latest generation mRNA vaccines” and “Moderna”, the US-based biotech company Moderna Therapeutics. So the vaccine it refers to is presumably the mRNA-1273 candidate vaccine being developed by Moderna. But there's no evidence for the claim.

No, dexamethasone not a Covid-19 vaccine, no evidence it causes infertility

“I’m warning you all: If you going to take the [n]ew ‘drug’ which is said to be R150 please be careful, and don’t fall trap onto a setup on being infertile,” reads a message posted on Facebook on 18 June 2020.

On 16 June it was announced that the drug dexamethasone reduced deaths among a third of Covid-19 patients on ventilators, in a clinical trial.

It costs around R150 per injection in South Africa, where it is also manufactured. But it is not a vaccine and there's no evidence it causes infertility.

No evidence drinking ‘asthma plant’ tea helps Covid-19 breathing complications

A Facebook post claims drinking water in which leaves of the “asthma plant” have been boiled will prevent breathing complications in Covid-19 patients.

It says asthma weed, scientific name Euphobia hirta, “will prevent blockage of air passage in Covid-19”. But there's no evidence this weed is effective.

Cannabis can reduce coronavirus infection? Study only said it might – and more research needed

“Cannabis can reduce coronavirus infection by more than 70% and may even treat it,” reads the headline of a 22 May 2020 article on the entertainment website Meeaw.

The article says Canadian scientists are researching cannabis as a possible “cure and treatment” for Covid-19. The headline is misleading.

Ginger, turmeric won’t cure coronavirus or other diseases

A Facebook post claims a mixture of natural ingredients can be used as “Natural Antibiotics” for “all kinds of sickness”, including Covid-19.

The list of ingredients includes turmeric, ginger and galangal roots and garlic. The post claims this concoction will cure a long list of ailments, including colds, gout, asthma, chronic diseases such as stroke, and the “corona virus”. Could this be true? No.

Covid-19 not caused by bacteria, aspirin not a cure

“In Italy, the coronavirus remedy was finally found,” reads a message circulating on Facebook since 20 May 2020. It claims that Covid-19 is caused by a bacterium, not a virus, and can be treated with the common drug aspirin.

Several versions of the message are doing the rounds. But the claims it contains are false.

No, 50 children not paralysed by ‘Gates-backed’ meningitis vaccine

“50 African Children Paralyzed After Receiving Bill Gates-Backed Meningitis Vaccine” reads the worrying headline of a January 2013 article on the website ZazenLife.

Although published more than seven years ago, the article has caught people’s attention again – it has been viewed more than a million times since March 2020. This may be because the Covid-19 pandemic has spurred conspiracy theories about vaccination and billionaire businessman Bill Gates.

No evidence Russian president Putin ordered Madagascar’s Covid-19 ‘cure

A message circulating online claims Russian president Vladimir Putin has “confessed” to ordering a million bottles of Covid-Organics, the herbal tonic promoted by Madagascar’s president Andry Rajoelina as a cure for Covid-19.

It quotes Putin as saying the tonic is a proven “curative and preventive remedy” for the coronavirus, and that he calls on Africans “not to follow the WHO”, the World Health Organization. Has the Russian president endorsed Covid-Organics and ordered a million bottles of the drink? No.

Nigeria’s Cov-herbal cough mixture not a cure for Covid-19

The headline of an article circulating on social media claims that the Nigerian government has found a cure for Covid-19.

“Finally, Nigerian Government Finds Cure For Covid-19,” it reads. The article has been shared on Facebook more than 1,200 times and debated in close to 100 comments.

Nigeria had nearly 6,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 by 18 May 2020. Has the country now found a cure for the disease? No.

No, US coronavirus aid for Madagascar won’t fund ‘Covid-19 remedy’

“Trump offers $2.5 million to Madagascar to develop the Covid-19 remedy,” reads the headline of an article by the Zambian Observer.

The article says Michael Pelletier, the US ambassador to Madagascar, “gave the news on April 21, 2020”.

The US has granted Madagascar US$2.5 million in health assistance during the Covid-19 outbreak. But is the money “to develop the Covid-19 remedy”? No.

No, edible plant known as ewedu, bush okra and jute can’t stop coronavirus spreading in the body

A screenshot being shared online claims that Corchorus olitorius, an edible plant found across Africa and Asia, as well as some parts of Europe, North America and Australia, can help "curb" reproduction of the new coronavirus. It is also known as jute, bush okra, molokhia, ewedu, ahihara, malafiya and krinkrin.

The claim is that it has flavonoids that aid the absorption of zinc in the body. Zinc can then enter the virus ‌infected cells and stop the coronavirus from reproducing. But there is no evidence it counters the virus.

No, African leaders haven’t endorsed Madagascar’s ‘herbal medicine’ as coronavirus vaccine

A post doing the rounds on Facebook claims African leaders have endorsed a Madagascan “vaccine” for Covid-19.

“BREAKING !!! Covid-19 Cure; African Leaders Endorse Madagascar Vaccine!” it starts.

It says several African presidents held a meeting to endorse a herbal remedy from Madagascar touted as a cure. But the claims in the post are false.

No proof siam weed cures coronavirus, as Nigerian prophetess claims

A viral video shows a Nigerian woman, who introduces herself as “prophetess Dupe Oluwaniyi”, saying Siam weed, or Chromolaena odorata, is the cure for the novel coronavirus.

Oluwaniyi says she received the information by divine inspiration after praying about the Covid-19 pandemic. But experts say there is no scientific evidence that it works.

No, palm oil not a ‘simple solution’ to coronavirus

“Simple solution to corona virus revealed,” claims a message posted on Facebook in Nigeria.

“As deadly as Corona Virus is, it has been confirmed and tested that Palm oil can stop the spread of the virus.”

It attributes the information to the World Health Organization. But no, palm oil will not stop the coronavirus.

 No evidence that Madagascar’s artemisia-based tonic cures Covid-19

“Madagascar is using Artemisia, in Setswana we call it Lengana to cure Corona Virus and it’s working,” says a Facebook post.

Similar posts claim the plant, a key ingredient in a tonic endorsed by Madagascar’s president Andry Rajoelina, is a Covid-19 cure.

But there is no evidence it cures the new coronavirus. Read on for more.

Nairobi governor Sonko puts families at risk with ‘coronavirus-busting’ alcohol in food packs

Mike Sonko, the flashy governor of Nairobi, has been distributing packages of food to families as restrictions on movement to slow the spread of Covid-19 bite.

A photo reveals that some of his donations included bottles of Hennessy, a brand of cognac. This he says, is a throat sanitiser against the virus and has the blessings of the World Health Organization. These claims are false - and risky. Continue reading for why.


No, drinking black tea at dawn won’t cure coronavirus

A post shared on Facebook in Kenya claims drinking sugarless black tea before sunrise will cure Covid-19. The claim also made it to Kenya’s mainstream media.

But drinking unsweetened black tea at dawn does not cure Covid-19. Read why.

No, tea does not cure Covid-19

Does tea contain chemicals known to cure Covid-19? So claims a message doing the rounds on social media. It claims a Chinese “hero doctor” found evidence that chemicals in tea “would significantly decrease the impact” of the Covid-19 coronavirus “on the human body”. Read on for why tea is not a cure.


Fruit, veg and ‘natural herbs’ can’t cure Covid-19, produce vaccine

Herbs, fruit and vegetables can treat Covid-19, claims Nigerian traditional ruler Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi in a video posted on his Instagram account on 30 March 2020. He says it has been tested and it works. It doesn't.



BCG vaccine used in Africa could reduce symptoms, but not ‘cure’ or ‘vaccine’ for Covid-19

“Has Africa had the cure all along?” asks a 5 April 2019 Facebook post by a South African radio presenter.
The post claims that a tuberculosis (TB) vaccine used in some African countries is being considered as “a possible vaccine” for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Continue reading for why this is not accurate.

Bill Gates not testing Covid-19 vaccine in Africa

A message circulating on social media in Nigeria claims that US billionaire Bill Gates wants to “sell” a Covid-19 vaccine in Africa – to destroy the continent.

Bu there is no evidence that the coronavirus vaccine currently being developed with support from the Gates Foundation and other partners will be tested in Africa. Continue reading why here.

No evidence ibuprofen makes Covid-19 worse, say experts

A post widely shared on Facebook in South Africa claims that ibuprofen makes the new coronavirus multiply faster.

It says “doctors from university of Vienna” are blaming the high Covid-19 death rate in Italy on patients taking “Advil/ibuprofen/mypaid/myprodol to control fever”.  But medical experts including from the named university have dismissed this, while the WHO says it does not advice against ibuprofen. Get the details here.

No, US scientists haven’t created coronavirus vaccine

A message doing the rounds on social media is jubilant. “Great news! Carona virus vaccine ready. Able to cure patient within 3 hours after injection. Hats off to US Scientists,” it reads.

The message also claims that US president Donald Trump has “announced that Roche Medical Company will launch the vaccine next Sunday, and millions of doses are ready from it”. This is false. Read why.

Hot baths, hot hand dryers and other heat will NOT kill coronavirus

“The doctors who help with dealing with SARS virus are recommending we use hand dryers or a sauna bath to manage or to prevent this coronavirus,” says a woman in a video circulating on Facebook since 17 March 2020.

The World Health Organization says this is not true. Read why here.


No, lemon and baking soda mix doesn’t cure Covid-19

A message circulating on WhatsApp in Nigeria claims that “lemon and bicarbonate” taken as "hot tea" can cure Covid-19. It says the “information comes from Israel” where “this virus did not cause any death”.

It claims the “remedy” is “why the People of Israel is relaxed about this virus”.

But this claim about lemon and bicarbonate is false. Read why here.

No, breathing steam from boiling orange or lemon peels doesn’t cure or prevent coronavirus

A video shared on WhatsApp claims heating orange peels to boiling point and breathing in the steam can prevent the new coronavirus.

In the video, a woman shows how to make the mixture. She says you must “inhale the steam because from what we have heard, coronavirus enters through the nose, which is really cold, colder than other parts of the body”.

But there is no evidence for this.

Photo not of Italian doctors dead from Covid-19 – it’s from TV drama Grey’s Anatomy

A Kenyan Facebook post, viewed thousands of times, shares a photo of people in medical scrubs lying on the floor of what appears to be an operating theatre, mid-operation.

The caption claims the photo is of “some bodies among the 200 doctors in Italy who died yesterday of coronavirus”.

But the photo is a still from a 2007 episode of the medical TV drama Grey’s Anatomy, filmed in the US. Read more here.

South African mayor incorrect about Covid-19 ‘vaccine’

Does the mayor of South Africa's City of Ekurhuleni have a solution to the Covid-19 pandemic? In a March 2020 state of the city address, he proposed using the municipality’s emergency funds “to procure the vaccine Inferon B from Cuba”.
Interferon alpha-2b has been used to treat some earlier strains of coronavirus, but it is no vaccine. Continue reading here for the details.

Chloroquine tested as treatment for Covid-19 – but is not a cure

Has chloroquine - the malaria drug - been proven to cure the new coronavirus? No. It has been tested, but no research shows it is a cure. There have already been reported cases of chloroquine poisoning.

For more details continue reading here.


Coronavirus doesn’t have own pH level, alkaline food won’t ‘beat’ it

“This is to inform us all that the pH for corona virus varies from 5.5 to 8.5,” reads a graphic shared on social media.
It adds: "All we need to do, to beat corona virus, we need to take more of an alkaline foods that are above the above pH level of the Virus.”

But - this information is incorrect. See why.


No, holding your breath isn’t a test for Covid-19

Is holding your breath for ten seconds or more a sign that you do not have Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus? No - there's many things wrong with this viral message. Read all about them here.

False information about the disease is dangerous. It could make uninfected people think they have the virus. It could also make people who do have the virus think they’re uninfected


Gargling salt or vinegar water will not cure coronavirus

Can Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, be cured by gargling salt or vinegar water?

This is the claim in an image doing the rounds on social media. It says that before coronavirus reaches the lungs, it remains in the throat for four days. At this stage, the virus can be “eliminated” by gargling with warm water and salt or vinegar.

But the advice is false. Get the details why.

False that LGBTQ people in US have demanded ‘first’ treatment for Covid-19

Have LGBTQ people in the US demanded ‘first’ treatment for Covid-19? Have LGBTQ people in the US demanded ‘first’ treatment for Covid-19? This is how the headline of a 14 March 2020 article on the site Pulpit and Pen reads, adding that this is "because they’re so disease-ridden already".

No. The article’s primary claim, that LGBTQ advocacy groups have demanded to be treated before other people, can be shown to be false. Read why this story is so problematic.


That viral 'Unicef message'

At a time of great uncertainty around Covid-19, a lot of readers have turned to credible authorities such as the World Health Organization for information. This helpful-looking viral message, about how to avoid infection, is supposedly from Unicef – the United Nations Children’s Fund.

But - it is NOT from Unicef and is a mix of truths and half-truths. Read the full fact-check here.

You can also read Unicef's denial of the forward here.

Coronavirus is not pneumonia – and symptoms of Covid-19 can be like common cold

A recent Facebook post makes many claims about the new coronavirus causing the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of the post’s claims are in line with official advice. But many are incorrect. These include that coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough with no runny nose and the new virus 'hates the sun and can be killed by a temperature of just 26/27 degree. Read the full check here.

No drinking alcohol will not kill the coronavirus

Will alcohol kill the new coronavirus, as what seems to be a screengrab of a CNN news broadcast shared on Facebook in Kenya claims. A reverse image search reveals that the screengrab is frequently manipulated to carry many different messages.

The only alcohol the WHO recommends using to fight Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is an alcohol-based hand rub.


A person holds an experimental vaccine against the AIDS virus in Shoshaguve, near Pretoria, on November 30, 2016 as South Africa launched a major clinical trial of the experimental vaccine, which scientists hope could be the "final nail in the coffin" for the disease. - More than 30 years of efforts to develop an effective vaccine for HIV have not borne fruit, but for the first time since the virus was identified in 1983, scientists think they have found a promising candidate. The new study, known as HVTN 702, will involve more than 5,400 sexually active men and women aged 18-35 in 15 areas around South Africa over four years. (Photo by MUJAHID SAFODIEN / AFP)Study found people with blood type A at higher risk of Covid-19 – but results preliminary, no peer review yet

“People with blood type A may be more vulnerable to coronavirus, China study finds,” reads the headline of an 18 March 2020 article in Malaysian newspaper the Star, attributing this to a study.

The study should be viewed with caution and not taken as definitive proof that people with blood type A are more at risk. Read why here.


South Africa's first Covid-19 patient not 'cured'

South Africa has declared a national disaster, as confirmed cases climbed past 60 less than two weeks after its first case was reported. But no, the country's first Covid-19 patient, who is now reported to be home, was not "cured".

Read the details here.


Israel 'announces first cure' for coronavirus? Not for Covid-19

The race to develop a drug or vaccine for Covid-19 is on. But did Israeli scientists beat everyone by announcing one in February 2020? Yes, an Israeli research organisation did announce a vaccine - but this was for a different strain of coronavirus and not the one causing Covid 19.

Get the details on why this is misleading here.


Garlic, the Covid-19 slayer? No.

Can Covid-19, as the disease caused by the new coronavirus is known, be cured by garlic or “garlic water” as has been widely shared on social networks? After all, garlic has many benefits to health. But no, curing Covid-19 is not one of them.



'HIV wonder drugs' not curing Covid-19

Have doctors cured a coronavirus patient using "HIV wonder drugs" in China? While it has been reported that China was in some cases using certain HIV drugs to treat pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, we found no evidence that a patient infected with coronavirus was cured with HIV drugs.

The global search for an actual cure continues. Read our fact-check here.


Dettol effective against Covid-19? Yet to be tested

Sanitizing and disinfection of surfaces is one of the ways of keeping Covid-19 at bay, the World Health Organization says. But has Dettol been proven to kill bacteria, as well as viruses such as coronavirus?

Previously, specific Dettol products have shown to be effective against certain strains of coronavirus. But the coronavirus spreading at the moment, the 2019-nCoV, has not yet been tested against Dettol products. The firm said it is waiting for this strain to be made available so that it can conduct tests. More details here.


Ghanaian varsity in coronavirus vaccine breakthrough? No.

Several trials for a vaccine against Covid-19 are underway. But did Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology beat them all by successfully creating and testing a coronavirus vaccine? No. The university issued a statement that reports of the breakthrough were false.

And the site that first published it is a known junk site. Read our full fact-check.


No, Malaysia hasn’t found coronavirus cure

“Malaysia finds the cure for the deadly coronavirus,” claims the headline of an article dated 10 February 2020 and shared on Facebook.

If a cure had been found, it would have been reported widely.


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