CoronaCheck is RMIT ABC Fact Check’s common e mail e-newsletter devoted to combating the misinformation infodemic surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

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CoronaCheck #19

A few weeks in the past we reported a narrative on Clive Palmer and his declare that using the drug hydroxychloroquine had been a significant factor within the Australia’s low variety of COVID-19 deaths. He made that declare after asserting he’d purchased 33 million doses of the drug to donate to Australia’s medical stockpile. We’ve now truth checked that declare, and located it to be baseless.

We’ve additionally checked out a declare made by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud that Australia has the “most secure food security in the world”. We discovered that declare to be within the ballpark.

Also investigated by us this week: a Facebook post attributed to the Department of Health claims frequent coronavirus tests cannot distinguish COVID-19 from different sicknesses. The Department instructed us that was incorrect.

Facebook post about PCR tests accommodates ‘full inaccuracies’

A post shared extensively on Facebook and attributed to the Department of Health claims that tests for the novel coronavirus, referred to as SARS-COV-2, usually are not in a position to distinguish the virus from different sicknesses.

Screenshot of a Facebook post screenshotting an Australian Government website with a large debunked stamp on topThe inferences made about PCR tests by a Facebook post which screenshotted this Australian Government web site have been debunked.(Supplied)

“It should be noted that PCR tests cannot distinguish between “stay” virus and non-infective RNA,” the post states.

“This means the test cannot [distinguish] covid from a cold or measles or ebola.”

As Australian Medical Association ACT President Antonio Di Dio defined to the ABC in March, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests are probably the most extensively used COVID-19 tests in Australia, and work by taking a “fingerprint” of RNA from a affected person. 

“In the context of COVID-19, you get a piece of the RNA from a swab of the patient, you double it, then again and again,” Dr Di Dio stated. “Until you have millions of copies.”

Within a number of hours, the pattern could be giant sufficient to see whether or not COVID-19 is current.

A caption alongside the Facebook post claims the data has been taken “from [the Department of Health’s] own website”.

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In an announcement, a division spokesman instructed RMIT ABC Fact Check the post contained “selectively chosen information taken out of context” from a factsheet for clinicians, together with “complete inaccuracies”.

“The factsheet is actually dealing with COVID-19 positive people continuing to test positive after the infectious period has passed,” the spokesman stated.

“It is true that the PCR may still result in a positive test, because of remaining non-infectious viral load within the patient.”

He stated the take a look at wouldn’t detect any pathogen apart from the SARS-COV-2 virus.

Clive Palmer’s baseless hydroxychloroquine declare

Touted by some as a miracle treatment for COVID-19, the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine was thrust into the highlight once more this week when US President Donald Trump revealed he was taking it to keep away from contracting the sickness. 

Fact test: Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19 in Australia

Clive Palmer's claim is baselessClive Palmer's claim is baseless

Billionaire businessman Clive Palmer says Australia has given credit score to hydroxychloroquine for Australia’s low coronavirus loss of life fee.

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The drug lately made headlines in Australia when outspoken businessman Clive Palmer donated nearly 33 million doses — reportedly greater than the equal of whole US shares — to Australia’s nationwide medical stockpile. In a sequence of newspaper adverts and TV interviews, Mr Palmer claimed hydroxychloroquine was behind Australia’s low mortality fee, which he stated had fallen because the drug was made accessible to deal with hospitalised coronavirus sufferers in early April.

But can Australia’s success be linked to the drug? Fact Check requested the consultants and discovered Mr Palmer’s declare to be baseless. In truth, the drug was already accessible to hospital sufferers, and consultants stated the loss of life curve had flattened as a result of only a few weeks earlier the case curve had executed the identical.

The jury remains to be out on whether or not the drug works as a therapy for COVID-19. However, the proof is not promising. Given the recognized dangers of hydroxychloroquine, Australia’s medicines regulatory physique strongly advises in opposition to giving it to coronavirus sufferers within the absence of optimistic medical trial outcomes.

David Littleproud is within the ballpark on meals safety

It seems like historic historical past, however for a time, only a few quick weeks in the past, grocery store cabinets usually full of rest room paper, pasta, flour and cleansing provides have been naked and the Prime Minister labelled the obvious trigger, panic shopping for, “ridiculous” and “not sensible”.

Fact test: Food safety

David Littleproud's claim is in the ballparkDavid Littleproud's claim is in the ballpark

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says that Australia has “the most secure food security in the world”.

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Despite these scenes, federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud lately declared that Australia had “the most secure food security in the world”.

“We’re a nation of 25 million people,” Mr Littleproud instructed ABC Radio National’s Afternoon Briefing program on May 11. “We produce enough food for 75 million.”

In a truth test revealed earlier this week, we discovered that declare to be within the ballpark.

Many research and consultants say Australia enjoys a really excessive stage of meals safety, exports excess of it wants and has ample different sources of sure meals ought to they turn into scarce.

In phrases of Australia’s worldwide rating, we’re not fairly probably the most meals safe nation however one comparability locations us 12th amongst 113 nations by way of meals safety.

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Twitter ‘tremendous spreaders’

A tweet which advises readers to A tweet which advises readers to So-called tremendous spreaders repeat, share and amplify coronavirus misinformation.(Supplied)

NewsGuard, a self-described “internet trust tool”, has revealed an inventory of Twitter “super spreaders” — accounts that “repeat, share and amplify” coronavirus misinformation and myths to giant numbers of followers.

The 10 accounts listed by NewsGuard attain a mixed three.three million followers and have continued to publish misinformation regardless of Twitter asserting a crackdown on March 18 in a bid to deal with the so-known as “infodemic”.

Included within the listing are the accounts of former Nigerian politician Femi Fani-Kayode, conservative radio commentator Bill Mitchell and former British footballer David Icke.

The accounts have propagated myths together with that COVID-19 doesn’t exist and that zinc or natural cures can forestall or treatment the virus, and are spreading unproven claims about the impact of 5G expertise on the virus.

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Even extra misinformation about Bill Gates

Misinformation about Bill Gates and his involvement in world public well being appears to unfold exponentially with every passing day, with the billionaire tech founder and philanthropist the alleged ‘villain’ in numerous convoluted coronavirus conspiracy theories.

This week, truth checkers at India Today discovered that a picture of Mr Gates and high US infectious illness knowledgeable Anthony Fauci apparently flaunting social distancing and face masks guidelines was taken in December 2018, lengthy earlier than the coronavirus outbreak.

A meme with Dr Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates walking side by side, with a large debunked stamp overlayedA meme with Dr Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates walking side by side, with a large debunked stamp overlayedThis image, which reveals Dr Fauci and Mr Gates strolling facet by facet, was taken lengthy earlier than the coronavirus pandemic.(Supplied)

Another declare linking the boys, which steered that Dr Fauci served on Microsoft’s board of administrators, was discovered to be false by AP Fact Check.

Though not associated to the coronavirus, a hearsay has additionally been unfold on-line that Mr Gates visited disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein’s non-public island a number of instances. That declare, too, is fake, in response to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Politifact discovered that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was not set to make a revenue from the event of a coronavirus vaccine, whereas Reuters discovered that Mr Gates didn’t current to the Pentagon a plan to immunise non secular fanatics.

Speaking of faith, Reuters additionally discovered Mr Gates had not advocated for the everlasting banning of non secular gatherings.

Melinda Gates has additionally been the sufferer of on-line rumours, together with a declare, debunked by Snopes, that she wore a satanic image throughout a TV interview.

Things that don’t treatment and/or forestall COVID-19 

#25 A vegetarian weight-reduction plan: “No evidence exists to support the claim that a vegetarian lifestyle can protect someone from contracting COVID-19, a claim that has been debunked by media outlets and the Indian government.” — Snopes

From Washington, D.C.

US President Donald Trump this week claimed that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 preventative, prompting scorn from political adversaries together with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat.

“He’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and, shall we say, his weight group, [which] is morbidly obese, they say,” Ms Pelosi instructed CNN.

While her feedback have been met with glee by some, others have accused her of “fat shaming”. But was her remark correct?

Charted growth in key countries, on a logarithmic scale.Charted growth in key countries, on a logarithmic scale.This chart makes use of a logarithmic scale to focus on coronavirus development charges. Read our explainer to grasp what meaning — and the way COVID-19 circumstances are spreading world wide.

Not fairly, in response to truth checkers at PolitiFact, who discovered that based mostly on figures from Mr Trump’s newest bodily examination he wouldn’t be thought-about “morbidly obese” by medical requirements. Weighing in at 243 kilos (110 kilograms) and measuring 6 ft three inches (191 centimetres), Mr Trump simply falls into the overweight class.

And whereas some pundits have questioned the official peak and weight figures supplied by Mr Trump, PolitiFact discovered that he would have to be shorter than 5 ft eight inches (173 centimetres) and weigh 260 kilos (118 kilograms) to be labeled “morbidly obese”.

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