Disinfo: It is too early to tell whether any extra people will die because of COVID-19

Summary

It is definitely too early to accurately gauge how many – if any – extra people will die because of coronavirus. It is hard to believe that when this all blows over, the damage that will have been done by the shutdown measures – to businesses, to civil liberties, to individual lives and, of course, to the global economy – could have been for nothing. Nonetheless, it seems entirely possible based on the present data.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation attempt to downplay the severity and urgency of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. Pro-Kremlin media have spread a variety of false claims to push this message, for example that coronavirus mortality figures are insignificant, that COVID-19 is fake and a political move to install hegemony, and that the virus is safe. The novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, belongs to a family of viruses originating in animals that includes others such as SARS and MERS. It was first reported in the city of Wuhan in central China in late 2019 and has been rapidly spreading across the world, with cases being reported in 190 countries, territories and areas. The number of COVID-19 cases has surpassed 777,000 globally with over 37,000 deaths as of 31 March 2020. There are major challenges associated with accurately calculating the COVID-19 death rate, including insufficient data about the denominator (i.e., the number of people who are infected with the virus). Currently, the research consensus indicates that COVID-19 is less deadly than SARS (9.5% mortality) but more deadly than influenza (0.1% mortality). However, the death rate aside, the major concern with the COVID-19 pandemic is its potential to overwhelm national healthcare systems, resulting in even more deaths because patients cannot receive treatment as hospitals exceed capacity. Thus, flattening the curve and limiting the spread of the virus - which is highly transmittable - is recommended as an essential precautionary measure by international health authorities, including the WHO.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 190
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 31/03/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: UK, US
  • Keywords: coronavirus
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The EU has collapsed, countries are building borders

The European Union has collapsed. The countries are beginning to build borders: between Poland and Germany, between Germany and France, between the Czech Republic and Austria. [There are] borders, borders, borders…

Disproof

This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU's alleged imminent collapse. It also aims to pit EU member states against each other in an attempt to undermine European solidarity - another recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation tactic. There is no evidence to support the doomsday claim that the pandemic is resulting in the death or obsolescence of the EU. EU Member States are helping each other in this crisis; for example, German hospitals offering to treat critical coronavirus patients from France as well as taking in patients from Italy and the Czech Republic sending masks to Italy. Read more about the EU's response here and here.

EU's health and safety policies failed, EU feels the threat of losing its power

[…] The coronavirus epidemic marks the beginning of an era of crisis for pan-European identity and solidarity. National borders between the EU countries, closed by [state] governments, have become a clear illustration of [the EU’s] inefficiency and its failed health and safety policies. Therefore, all the bureaucratic structures of the EU, as well as political forces oriented towards the globalist agenda, feel a clear threat of losing their power.

Disproof

This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU's alleged imminent collapse. It also aims to pit EU member states against each other in an attempt to undermine European solidarity - another recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation tactic. There is no evidence to support the doomsday claim that the pandemic is resulting in the death or obsolescence of the EU. To cushion the blow to people’s livelihoods and the economy, the European Commission has adopted a comprehensive economic response to the outbreak, applied the full flexibility of the EU fiscal rules, has revised its State Aid rules and proposed to set up a €37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide liquidity to small businesses and the health care sector. To provide all EU Member States with essential medical equipment, the EU has created the European stockpile of ventilators, masks and lab supplies. This medical and protective equipment is available to any EU country. The Commission will finance 90% of this stockpile through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (RescEU). EU Member States are also helping each other in this crisis, for example German hospitals offering to treat critical coronavirus patients from France as well as taking in patients from Italy and the Czech Republic sending masks to Italy. Read more about the EU's response here and here.

Russian scientists created 3 drugs against coronavirus

Russian scientists created 3 drugs that could potentially be used against the coronavirus COVID-19 – Remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine/ chloroquine, and fortepren.

Disproof

None of the listed drugs was created in Russia. Remdevisir was developed by Gilead Sciences for Ebola virus. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are oral prescription drugs that have been used for the treatment of malaria and were added as a recommended antiviral for the treatment of COVID-19 in China. Fortepren was created back in 2016 and has been recommended for patients with chronic recurrent herpes. CDC approved Remdevisir and Hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine as therapeutic options for COVID-19 patients. Read more disinformation cases about coronavirus here.