Fact Check: Video Claiming You Cannot Catch Coronavirus Is NOT True

Hoax Alert

  • by: Ryan Cooper
Fact Check: Video Claiming You Cannot Catch Coronavirus Is NOT True Not Science

Is it true that you cannot catch the novel coronavirus, as a viral video suggests? No, that's not true: Viruses are contagious. The video is filled with inaccuracies and medically false information. Lead Stories reached out to a medical doctor in Atlanta who called the video "total garbage."

The claims appeared in a post (archived here) published on Facebook by Tree Nursery Khemis on April 2, 2020, under the title "Why You CANNOT and Will NEver 'Catch' Coronavirus." It opened:

Allright here we go! YouTube has taken down the video of Tom Barnett.
This goes to show how most of the platforms are censoring.

There is a mass mirroring upload effort being setup now,
everyone is invited to mass upload and share the video.

Here is the video in this post, let's see how long it will survive here.
And here is a download link if you wish to share and upload it yourself.

Users on social media only saw this:

According to The Daily Examiner newspaper in Australia, the poster is Tom Barnett, an anti-vaccine proponent.

He is not a medical doctor, nor does he have a Ph.D., and he admits as much at the beginning of the video, where he tells viewers he was reading and writing before he started school. Later, he said, he scored so high on his IQ test that people thought he had cheated.

Even so, Lead Stories consulted with someone who did get his medical degree, Dr. Thomas Walker, M.D., an ear, nose & throat specialist based in Atlanta, Georgia. Walker reviewed the video and the claims being shared and said:

His logic is that a virus is not a live organism, and because it's not a live organism, it cannot be contagious. For instance, look at hepatitis. If it were contagious, how come it's just affecting the liver and not the brain and not the heart, and if it's confined to one organ in your body, do you really think it can go between two people, let alone two species? It's just complete nonsense.

Walker said while it's true that a virus is not a live organism, "Whether or not an agent is alive is irrelevant to the ability to be contagious."

Walker offered several examples of viruses that are all contagious, including HIV, chickenpox, shingles, and herpes. For instance, if someone has unprotected sex with another person who is HIV-positive, he or she can "catch" HIV.

Another example, infectious mononucleosis, which is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, has been commonly known as the "kissing disease" because teenagers can unknowingly transmit it through saliva.

Walker concluded:

A virus is clearly contagious. It is evidence-based medicine. This is what the science shows.

In the video, Barnett also said the flu is viral, and the cold is bacterial. But Walker said that is simply false:

Most colds are actually viral. The common cold is the rhinovirus. The vast majority of colds, which he claimed in the video are bacterial, is simply not true. Most colds, not just the flu, are also viral.

Barnett goes on to claim that the only way to catch a virus is to have it injected in your bloodstream, which is perhaps why he advocates against vaccines or flu shots. He goes on to call the novel coronavirus a pandemic using "air quotes" and suggests that people ignore the social distancing guidelines.

The Daily Examiner reported that the video was viewed more than 186,000 times before YouTube took it down. However, it's still being shared on Facebook, as of this writing.

The novel coronavirus is a viral respiratory illness that scientists say is transmitted through person-to-person contact. This is why, among other things, local municipalities around the world have locked areas down or have issued stay-at-home guidelines. Also, officials in nations spanning the globe have urged people to maintain physical distance to curb the spread, and the Trump administration has started recommending that people wear face masks or coverings in public.

As of April 4, 2020, more than 60,000 deaths have been blamed on the pandemic.

Barnett's claims are dangerous, illogical and medically unsound, according to Walker. They join a growing list of misinformation circulating online about the coronavirus. Here are some other fact checks by Lead Stories you may want to check out:

Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Read more about or contact Ryan Cooper

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Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.
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