Fact Check: Russia Did NOT Expose COVID-19 With Scientific Data As A Hoax, Did NOT Say It's A Fake Pandemic

Hoax Alert

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Russia Did NOT Expose COVID-19 With Scientific Data As A Hoax, Did NOT Say It's A Fake Pandemic Real Pandemic

Did Russia expose COVID-19 with scientific data as a hoax and say it is a fake pandemic? No, that's not true: Authorities from Moscow's health department did release information about antibody testing of a random population sample of Moscow residents in late May 2020, but they did not make the statement that COVID-19 is a fake pandemic. A misleading headline is not a summary of what the Moscow authorities actually said.

The claim originated in an article published by eutimes.net on May 24, 2020, titled "Russia exposes Covid-19 with Scientific Data as a Hoax, says its a Fake Pandemic" (archived here) which opened:

Russia has just released very important data which basically makes Coronavirus a fake pandemic. Moscow authorities have stated that at least 12.5% of its residents have developed antibodies to Covid-19, after taking samples from 50,000 people. It's just the beginning of a massive survey that will see millions tested.

Moscow has a population of 12.5 million people and if 12.5% of them have antibodies, that would be 1,562,500 people already had Covid-19 and recovered without any symptoms or any treatment whatsoever. Of these, 1,934 have died. This means Covid-19 death rate is at about 0.12%, not much bigger than the ordinary A/H1N1 flu.

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Russia exposes Covid-19 with Scientific Data as a Hoax, says its a Fake Pandemic

Russia has just released very important data which basically makes Coronavirus a fake pandemic. Moscow authorities have stated that at least 12.5% of its residents have developed antibodies to Covid-19

The author's conclusion that the pandemic is fake is based on the premise that a certain proportion of the people who contract the disease must die in order for the pandemic to be real. But the definitions for pandemic and epidemic are not based on the level of mortality, rather they describe the extent of spread of a disease in relation to geography. Merriam-webster.com presents a comparison of the two words (here). On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

The speech given by the WHO director-general (transcribed in full here), said:

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

The numbers cited in this eutimes article are accurate according to the references they were taken from at the time they were taken, although some of the conclusions drawn are flawed or lacking context.

Moscow has a population of 12.5 million people and if 12.5% of them have antibodies, that would be 1,562,500 people already had Covid-19 and recovered without any symptoms or any treatment whatsoever. Of these, 1,934 have died.

Those 1,934 deceased Moscow residents are mentioned again:

Despite having a very low death rate, Russia is now suspecting that not even all of those 1,934 Muscovites died of Covid-19 so they said that they will run autopsies to determine the exact cause of death, so expect the numbers to become even lower after they finish with the autopsies.

The article uses a quote from Moscow's Department of Health, taken from a May 13, 2020, Reuters article titled, 'Moscow says it ascribed over 60% of coronavirus deaths in April to other causes," (here) The quote, standing alone and with the eutimes putting some words in bold for emphasis, is used to propose that Russia's strict recording practices, relying on autopsies of all deceased Coronavirus patients, will further reduce the count of 1,934 deaths. It implies that there are autopsies left to complete.

It's impossible in other COVID-19 cases to name the cause of death. So, for example in over 60% of deaths the cause was clearly for different reasons such as vascular failures (such as heart attacks), stage 4 malignant diseases, leukaemia, systemic diseases which involve organ failure, and other incurable fatal diseases.

The entire quote captioned in the Reuters article tells a different story, The start of quote clarifies that any recorded coronavirus deaths would have already passed the strict post-mortem protocol of Russia and the Moscow Health Department. This part of the quote was not included in the eutimes article:

Unlike many other countries, Moscow's department of health said it and Russia conducted post-mortem autopsies in 100% of deaths where coronavirus was suspected as the main cause.

"Therefore, post-mortem diagnoses and causes of death recorded in Moscow are ultimately extremely accurate, and mortality data is completely transparent," it said.

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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.


  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Southeastern Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


 

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