The CoviD-19 Saga: Immanuel, Infodemic, and Videos that go Viral

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Recently a viral video was pulled out by social media companies for pushing CoviD-19 misinformation in July 2020.

A group that called itself “America’s Frontline Doctors” (AFD) took to the steps of the United States Supreme Court on 27 July, 2020, in a self-described “White Coat Summit” to address a “massive disinformation campaign” regarding CoviD-19.

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A video recording of the 45-minute long event was promoted online as a press conference of the United States Supreme Court but had no clear affiliation with them other than being held on the footsteps of the Washington, D.C., courthouse.

Less than 24 hours after being posted, the video was pulled from social media platforms for presenting misinformation including unproven treatments for COVID-19.

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A doctor by the name of Stella Immanuel who describes herself on Twitter as “God’s battle axe and weapon of war,” and a number of health care providers some of whose claimed credentials and affiliations could not be confirmed are in the video.

FALSE CREDENTIALS

The “doctors” wore coats with an AFD logo or American Frontline Doctors which had no ties to anywhere or any known companies besides a website that was recently created (Dated 24 July, 2020) and was shut down by its domain provider days later.

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A doctor allegedly associated with AFD in another video was seen standing in front of a Cedars Sinai Hospital. Cedars Sinai Hospital’s official Twitter page announced that the doctor was not affiliated with them.

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Unfortunately there were legitimate physicians who were featured in the video. They were subsequently contacted by Fact checking website Snopes for an interview on their stances regarding the claims of the video and as of this writing, failed to answer back.

FALSE SCIENCE

Perhaps the most touted claim by Immanuel was about hydroxychloroquine, a controversial and unproven treatment for COVID-19 pushed by United States President Donald Trump and others, as both a preventive measure and “cure” for COVID-19.

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Immanuel also claims to have successfully treated 350 patients, some of whom she said had underlying conditions such as diabetes or asthma.

Immanuel’s claim even promoted not wearing masks since the drug cures COVID-19 and there is othing to be worried about.

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Back on June 2020, the National Institutes of Health halted a clinical trial treating 470 adults hospitalized or anticipated to be hospitalized with COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine.

Researchers participating in the double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial found that the treatment did no harm but “provides no benefit.”

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Less than two weeks later, the United States Food and Drug Administration cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems and other safety issues, including lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failures.

Immanuel has been notorious for even more bizarre pronouncements in the past, saying that cysts, fibroids and some other conditions can be caused by having sex with demons, that McDonald’s and Pokemon promote witchcraft, that alien DNA is used in medical treatments, and that half-human reptilians work in the government, most claims were found in her website – which has now been deleted.

TRUE THREATS

As of this writing, COVID-19 has claimed 685,000 lives and counting, and has infected almost 18 million people worldwide.

Before this recent misinformation surfaced, a lot of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus appeared and continue to plague the world including the minds of even the highest persons of authority.

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These claims included the virus as an alleged bioweapon, that it is being spread through 5G towers, that it was created in order to produce vaccines that contain microchips which will lead to big corporations controlling people.

Absurd yes, but people believe in them.

Some countries, particularly the United States have a mask wearing problem, in which movements such as “Anti-Maskers” surfaced.

Dr. Maitiu O Tuathail of Ireland grew so concerned about mask misinformation that he posted an online video of himself comfortably wearing a mask while measuring his oxygen levels.

The video has been viewed more than 20 million times.

“While face masks don’t lower your oxygen levels. COVID-19 definitely does,” he warned.

Yet trusted medical authorities are often being dismissed by public figures and officials and unfortunately quite a few cases these infodemic spreaders come from their own circles, scientists and medical professionals – consequently this leads to the general public being misinformed and ultimately leads to a harder fight against the True Threat.

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