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”. It was shared on 24 March 2020.

Italy has been particularly hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. But could this shocking image really show Italian doctors suddenly struck dead by the disease?

Not real – actors on TV set

The photo is not of actual doctors, and none of the people on the floor are dead. 

A reverse image search revealed that it’s a still from a 2007 episode of the medical TV drama Grey’s Anatomy, filmed in the US. Getty Images credits it to Wishin’ and Hopin’, episode 14 of the show’s third season.

Italian doctors and Covid-19

Doctors in Italy have likened the large number of Covid-19 cases to a “tsunami” or a “war”. Strain on medical resources has left doctors unable to treat all patients, forced to prioritise some while leaving others to die.

But there is no evidence to show that 200 Italian doctors died on 23 March 2020. The World Health Organisation’s situation report for that day records 649 deaths in Italy. 

It is highly unlikely that nearly a third of the country’s dead on 23 March were doctors. People aged 65 and older or already suffering from chronic conditions are most at risk of serious illness or death due to Covid-19.

Importantly, neither the WHO nor any major news reports on Italy’s response to the pandemic mention this extremely high number. 

Neither the photo nor the caption shared on Facebook convey accurate information about Covid-19 fatalities in Italy. – Keegan Leech


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