DISINFO: There is no COVID-19 pandemic, coronavirus is just like the flu
  • Outlet: RT Germany - YouTube (archived)*
  • Date of publication: March 20, 2020
  • Outlet language(s): German
  • Reported in: Issue 191
  • Countries / regions discussed: EU, Italy, Germany

DISINFO: There is no COVID-19 pandemic, coronavirus is just like the flu


We don’t know how many fake messages there are these days. There are Italian doctors who have spread information about the coronavirus on the internet, and there is a strong suspicion that what they say is not true. If they took the test away, life would be the same. There would be nothing here at all. There would be no evidence of increased mortality or morbidity or sickness. There is nothing going on at all at the moment.


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 include 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 200 countries, territories and areas. The number of COVID-19 cases has surpassed four million globally with over 280,000 deaths as of 11 May 2020. For a number of reasons, the coronavirus is not just like the flu (for more information, see here). According to new research, each person with the coronavirus appears to infect 2.2 other people, on average. By comparison, the figure for the seasonal flu is roughly 1.3. 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 notably more deadly than the flu (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.


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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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