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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

A Guide to Our Coronavirus Coverage

In our work fact-checking political claims and debunking viral deceptions, we have found a tremendous amount of misinformation on the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a guide to our coverage of the facts, including links to our latest stories, FAQs, political claims, videos, viral misinformation and expert outside resources. Click on the headlines for the full stories and resources.

All of our coronavirus stories can be found here. Las versiones en español de nuestras historias se pueden ver aquí.

Our Latest Stories

These are the most recent stories we published on COVID-19:

Sequencing Used to Identify Delta, Other Coronavirus Variants
Researchers use genomic sequencing — not the clinical tests used to diagnose patients with COVID-19 — to identify and track specific variants of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, including the highly contagious delta variant. But viral posts try to deny the existence of the variant by misleadingly claiming there is “no ‘Delta Variant’ test.”

Vaccines Remain Largely Effective Against Delta Variant, Counter to Claims From Fox News Guest
Multiple studies show the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines continue to be effective against the delta variant of the coronavirus, even if the potency of the vaccines is somewhat reduced. But a guest on Fox News falsely claimed the delta variant “really is not responsive at all, or protected at all by the vaccines” and there is “no clinical reason to go get vaccinated.” En español.

COVID-19 Surges Among Unvaccinated in Florida, Contrary to Baseless Claims
Florida health officials have reported a 60% rise in COVID-19 cases, and hospitals are reporting that 95% of COVID-10 patients are not fully vaccinated. But a Facebook post makes the baseless claims that Florida’s numbers are not going up, and that all COVID-19 patients recently admitted to a Palm Beach County hospital had been vaccinated. En español.

Viral Claim Gets Biden’s COVID-19 Travel and Immigration Policies Wrong
The Biden administration hasn’t introduced COVID-19 travel restrictions on Americans going to Mexico since the delta variant became dominant in the U.S., and it is enforcing immigration laws at the border. But a meme falsely claiming the opposite is circulating online.

Flawed Variant Information Fuels Baseless COVID-19 Theory
A conspiracy theory online baselessly suggests that the World Health Organization and other groups preplanned the variants of the novel coronavirus — citing a dubious timeline. But the timeline doesn’t square with the reality of when variants have been identified and designated thus far.

Posts Baselessly Link COVID-19 Tests to Vaccine Conspiracy Theory
The COVID-19 vaccines currently in use must be administered via injection. But Instagram posts baselessly suggest that Bill Gates and George Soros will use COVID-19 tests to secretly vaccinate people who haven’t yet received the shots. There is no evidence for that conspiracy theory, and scientists say trying to administer a vaccine with a swab would likely not be effective.

Video Twists Advice on Delta Variant and Vaccination
An epidemiologist recommended that people get the COVID-19 vaccine because some evidence suggests an unvaccinated person who gets the delta variant is “twice as likely to require hospital treatment” than someone infected with the alpha variant. But a Facebook video twists that advice to claim that he said vaccinated people would be twice as likely to be hospitalized.

Viral Posts Misrepresent CDC Announcement on COVID-19 PCR Test
Scientists consider polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests a highly reliable tool for diagnosing COVID-19. But social media posts are misrepresenting a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement regarding the eventual discontinuation of its own test, falsely claiming the government has conceded that PCR tests aren’t reliable. En español.

Beds for Olympic Athletes Were Not Designed for COVID-19 Concerns
Participants in the 2020 Olympic Games will be subject to many COVID-19 rules. But social media posts and a news report falsely claim athletes will be sleeping on specially made, flimsy “anti-sex beds” to prevent intimacy and COVID-19 infection. The beds were designed before the pandemic and can bear more than 400 pounds, the mattress company said.

Fauci and Paul, Round 2
At a July 20 Senate hearing, Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, once again had a testy exchange over whether the U.S. funded gain-of-function research in China, with each man accusing the other of “lying.”

Viral Posts Lift Bogus ‘Quarantine’ Story from Satire Site
A satire site a month ago published a joke about the Biden administration creating “quarantine camps” for the unvaccinated. Now that fabricated story is circulating online, presented as if it’s real.

Businessman’s Social Media Post Distorts Facts on Definition of a Pandemic
A businessman’s post on Instagram and Facebook wrongly claims that the U.S. government “changed the definition of pandemic” in 2004, suggesting that COVID-19 would not have qualified under the old definition. There’s no evidence for those claims — and COVID-19 is by all means a pandemic. En español.

Mayim Bialik and Sons Got COVID-19 Vaccine
Actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik has expressed skepticism about vaccines in the past, but she says she and her two teenage children have received the COVID-19 vaccine. A Facebook post says Bialik “refuses to vaccinate,” leaving the false impression that she opposes COVID-19 vaccines. En español.

Photo Shows 2018 France World Cup Celebration, Not Vaccine Protest
Social media posts are misrepresenting an old photo from France by suggesting the sea of people in the streets shows “[p]eople are waking up against vaccine tyranny.” The photo actually shows a celebration in Paris after France won the 2018 World Cup. En español.

CDC Data Contradict Julián Castro’s Texas COVID-19 Claims
Cases of COVID-19 are increasing in Texas, but it doesn’t have the “highest COVID positivity rate and case count in the nation” — contrary to what Democrat Julián Castro recently tweeted. En español.

Meme Spreads Falsehood About Vaccine Transfer Through Eating Meat
Livestock and poultry are not being vaccinated against COVID-19. But a meme is spreading the falsehood that those who eat meat from vaccinated animals will get “VAXXED” by consuming the meat. That simply isn’t possible, according to immunologists.

CDC Data Thus Far Show COVID-19 Vaccination Safe During Pregnancy
Federal vaccine monitoring systems have identified no safety concerns with the COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant people. Preliminary Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that miscarriage is not more frequent than expected in vaccinated people. Online posts, however, falsely contend that such data, as reported in a CDC publication, show an 82% miscarriage rate. En español.

Baseless Conspiracy Theory Follows Deaths of Haitian President, Other National Leaders
Following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, social media posts baselessly suggest that he and other world leaders were killed or died because they opposed COVID-19 vaccination in their countries. All the leaders named in the posts, except Moïse, died of natural causes. At least one supported vaccination. En español.

Greene’s Deceptive Claims of Forced COVID-19 Vaccinations and Vaccination ‘Deaths’
There is no evidence that a door-to-door campaign to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19 means President Joe Biden and Democrats “are coming to your front door to force you to take the vax,” as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted. She also cited a figure for reported deaths after vaccination, which is not the same as deaths caused by vaccination. En español.

Meme Trumpets Falsehood About Delta Variant
The delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads more quickly than the original virus and has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization. It is now the dominant variant in the U.S. But a meme has been circulating on Facebook falsely claiming the delta variant is “fake news.” En español.

All of our coronavirus stories can be found here. Las versiones en español de nuestras historias se pueden ver aquí

 

FAQs

Some of the explanatory articles that we have done:

A Guide to the CDC’s Updated Mask Recommendations
Citing new data on the delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that fully vaccinated people wear face masks indoors in some parts of the country. En español.

The Facts – and Gaps – on the Origin of the Coronavirus
Despite increased media attention to the possibility that the novel coronavirus may have escaped from a lab, no credible evidence has emerged to support it and most scientists think the virus likely has a natural origin. En español.

The Wuhan Lab and the Gain-of-Function Disagreement
A disagreement between Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci has put $600,000 of U.S. grant money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology back into the spotlight, while making “gain-of-function” research a household term — all amid calls for more investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2. En español.

Evidence Points to Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines for Pregnant People
Clinical trials and medical studies have indicated that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant people. But online posts misrepresent unverified reports submitted to vaccine monitoring systems in the U.S. and Europe to misleadingly suggest “920 women” lost babies because they received COVID-19 vaccines. En español.

So Far, Vaccines Remain Effective Against Variants
So far, COVID-19 vaccines have been effective against variants of the coronavirus. Scientists are monitoring the situation carefully, with updated or new vaccines a possibility in the future, if need be. En español.

Exploring the Legality of COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates
Employers, colleges and universities generally may require immunizations. But there is some uncertainty about the legality of mandating vaccines authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. En español.

Research Rebuts Claims Linking COVID-19 Vaccines to Male Infertility
A new study found there was no negative effect on sperm levels in men after receiving the COVID-19 vaccines, undercutting suggestions that the shots affect male fertility. But social media posts have made the baseless claim that vaccinated men “are effectively sterile.” En español.

Q&A on the Rare Clotting Events That Caused the J&J Pause
We look at what is known about the rare clotting conditions associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, their frequency and the risks of COVID-19. En español.

The Facts on the Recommended J&J Vaccine ‘Pause’
So far, nearly 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S., including 7.2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In six cases there have been reports of “a rare and severe type of blood clot” in those who received the J&J vaccine, prompting the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend “a pause in the use” of the J&J vaccine “out of an abundance of caution.” We review the facts of this rare condition that caused the pause. En español.

A Guide to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the third COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. Here, we give a rundown of basic facts about the vaccine and an overview of how it works. En español.

A Guide to Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine
Moderna’s mRNA vaccine is the second COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use in the U.S. Here, we give a rundown of basic facts about the vaccine and an overview of how it works. En español.

A Guide to Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine
The first COVID-19 vaccine that’s likely to go into any American arms is Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, which was designed and developed by the German biotech BioNTech. Here, we give a run-down of basic facts about the vaccine and an overview of how it works. En español.

Q&A on COVID-19 Vaccines
Three COVID-19 vaccines are now authorized in the U.S. In this story, we answer some common questions about the shots. En español.

No Evidence Vaccines Impact Fertility
Q: Do the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility?
A: There’s no evidence that approved vaccines cause fertility loss. Although clinical trials did not study the issue, loss of fertility has not been reported among thousands of trial participants nor confirmed as an adverse event among millions who have been vaccinated. En español.

The Evolving Science of Face Masks and COVID-19
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending that members of the public mask up last spring, additional research has backed the use of face masks to combat the coronavirus. While knowledge gaps still remain, experts agree that masks should be used — and increasingly, they are emphasizing the use of better masks. En español.

Q&A on Trump’s COVID-19 Diagnosis
On Oct. 2, President Donald Trump revealed that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19. Here we answer common questions about the risks of the disease, treatments available and the shortcomings of testing.

Timeline of Trump’s COVID-19 Comments
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Trump has questioned the effectiveness of masks, touted unproven treatments and criticized his own health experts. Here is the timeline of the president’s comments on COVID-19.

COVID-19 Face Mask Advice, Explained
Conflicting — and shifting — guidance on whether members of the public should wear face masks to combat COVID-19 has led to confusion about whether people should cover their faces when leaving their homes. We explain the evidence.

Q&A on COVID-19 Antibody Tests
President Trump says antibody tests “will help us assess the number of cases that have been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and support our efforts to get Americans back to work by showing us who might have developed the wonderful, beautiful immunity.” But so far, the tests are not widely available — and many of those that are available do not work as advertised.

The Facts on Coronavirus Testing
We explain how testing works, what happened with the CDC’s coronavirus test and what’s known about how many tests are available in the U.S.

No Evidence to Back COVID-19 Ibuprofen Concerns
There is no evidence that ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can make COVID-19 cases more severe. You should consult your doctor before changing medications.

Does Vitamin D Protect Against COVID-19?
Some scientists have hypothesized vitamin D might be helpful, but there is no direct evidence that vitamin D can prevent COVID-19 or lessen disease severity. Nevertheless, it should be part of a healthy lifestyle.

No Evidence That Flu Shot Increases Risk of COVID-19
A claim being pushed on social media and by an organization skeptical of vaccines is using a military study to falsely suggest that the flu vaccine increases someone’s risk of contracting COVID-19. The study does not say that, and the Military Health System advises people to get the flu shot.

Baseless Conspiracy Theories Claim New Coronavirus Was Bioengineered
Several online stories inaccurately claim that the new coronavirus contains HIV “insertions” and shows signs of being created in a lab. But there is no evidence that the new virus was bioengineered, and every indication it came from an animal.

Editor’s Note: If you have a question about the coronavirus pandemic, send us an email at editor@factcheck.org and put “COVID-19” in the subject line.

Political Claims

Some of our most popular stories on claims made by politicians include:

Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force during a March 13 news conference.
Photo Credit: White House

Biden’s False Claim on Trump’s Response to Coronavirus
Former Vice President Joe Biden was wrong when he said that the Trump administration made no effort to get U.S. medical experts into China as the novel coronavirus epidemic spread there early this year.

Trump’s H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic Spin
The president made false and misleading comparisons between his response to the new coronavirus and President Barack Obama’s handling of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.

The Facts on Trump’s Travel Restrictions
The president has made a number of misleading statements about his decision on Jan. 31 to impose travel restrictions related to the novel coronavirus epidemic.

False Claim About CDC’s Global Anti-Pandemic Work
Democrats have said that the Trump administration cut the CDC’s anti-pandemic work in over 40 countries to just 10. The CDC told us that’s not true.

Trump Falsely Claims He Inherited ‘Empty’ Stockpile
More than once, President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that the federal stockpile of emergency medicine and supplies he inherited from his predecessor was an “empty shelf.”

Democrats’ Misleading Coronavirus Claims
Democrats have criticized President Donald Trump for his administration’s response to the new coronavirus, making claims about cuts to public health programs and the silencing of government experts. But they haven’t always gotten their facts right.

Trump’s Statements About the Coronavirus
President Donald Trump said on March 17, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” While it’s not possible to know what Trump “felt,” there’s no doubt that Trump had minimized the threat of the new coronavirus for weeks in statement after statement.

Trump and the ‘New Hoax’
Democratic presidential candidates harshly criticized President Donald Trump for using the term “hoax” in connection with the coronavirus outbreak. There’s no question that the president described the disease as the Democrats’ “new hoax” at a political rally on Feb. 28 in South Carolina. But Trump said that when he used the word “hoax,” he was referring to Democrats finding fault with his administration’s response to coronavirus, not the virus itself.

Where the U.S. Ranks in COVID-19 Deaths Per Capita
The United States has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths per capita in the world. However, President Donald Trump made the false claim that “Germany and the United States are the two best in deaths per 100,000 people.”

All of our coronavirus stories can be found here.

Videos

All of our coronavirus videos can be found here.

 

 

Q&A on COVID-19 Antibody Tests

In this video, we answer questions about the antibody tests that President Trump says are needed to get the U.S. back to work. How accurate are COVID-19 antibody tests? What’s the status of the tests in the U.S.? Will someone be protected from being infected again if they have antibodies to the virus? How long might someone be immune to COVID-19?

Posted by FactCheck.org on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

 

 

 

 

Viral Misinformation

We’ve published a significant number of articles on false and even dangerous information that has circulated on Facebook and other social media. Some of our most popular stories include:

Magnet Videos Refuel Bogus Claim of Vaccine Microchips
The ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. are publicly available. Yet a false claim that the vaccines contain microchips is receiving renewed attention through a spate of videos of people claiming that magnets stick to their arms after vaccination. Experts say none of the ingredients would cause this supposed effect. En español.

Hospital Payments and the COVID-19 Death Count
A Minnesota state senator’s recent interview on Fox News about Medicare payments for COVID-19 hospitalizations has generated a frenzy of misleading headlines on social media suggesting that hospitals may have a financial motivation when it comes to classifying cases or deaths as related to COVID-19.

False Claims of Nationwide Lockdown for COVID-19
The National Security Council is warning Americans of a “FAKE” rumor circulating on social media that falsely claims President Donald Trump will impose a nationwide “mandatory quarantine.” President Donald Trump said his administration “may look at certain areas,” but it is not considering anything that would affect the whole country “at this time.”

No Link Between Harvard Scientist Charles Lieber and Coronavirus
Charles Lieber, a nanoscientist, was charged for lying about his participation in a Chinese recruitment program and his affiliation with a Chinese university. He is not accused of being a spy and has no connection to the new coronavirus.

In Viral Video, Doctor Falsely Touts Hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 ‘Cure’
A widely shared video, featuring a doctor falsely claiming hydroxychloroquine is a “cure” for COVID-19, ignited an online storm that resulted in the video being pulled by social media platforms. There is no known cure for COVID-19, and current scientific evidence hasn’t found that hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment.

Conspiracy Theory Misinterprets Goals of Gates Foundation
A conspiracy theory falsely claims Bill Gates is plotting to use COVID-19 testing and a future vaccine to track people with microchips. The Gates Foundation has advocated for expanded testing and has funded vaccine research, but neither of those involves implanted microchips.

The Falsehoods of the ‘Plandemic’ Video
The first installment of a documentary called “Plandemic” stormed through social media this week. But the viral video weaves a grand conspiracy theory by using a host of false and misleading claims about the novel coronavirus pandemic and its origins, vaccines, treatments for COVID-19, and more.

False Claim of Congressional Pay Raises in Stimulus Bill
Facebook posts falsely claim that House Democrats included $25 million to boost their own salaries in their proposal for the coronavirus-related stimulus package. That funding is not for legislators’ pay increases; it’s also in the bill being advanced by the Republican-controlled Senate.

False Claim That Pelosi Withheld Coronavirus Funds Over Abortion
A viral Facebook post falsely claims that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “wouldn’t release 8.5 billion for Coronavirus without abortion funding.” A House bill providing $8.3 billion in relief was already signed into law. The “abortion funding” claim is a distortion of a separate debate over a different bill.

New Coronavirus Wasn’t ‘Predicted’ In Simulation 
A conspiracy theory website distorted the facts about an emergency preparedness exercise to suggest that the “GATES FOUNDATION & OTHERS PREDICTED UP TO 65 MILLION DEATHS” from the coronavirus now spreading. The event dealt with a hypothetical scenario involving a fictional virus.

Viral Social Media Posts Offer False Coronavirus Tips
Posts are circulating false and misleading tips on social media — in some cases wrongly attributed to Stanford University — about how people can monitor and avoid the coronavirus.

CDC Did Not ‘Admit Only 6%’ of Recorded Deaths from COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t drastically reduced the number of deaths attributable to COVID-19, but posts making that bogus claim have been circulating widely — with the help of President Donald Trump, who retweeted one such claim on Aug. 30.

Misinformation, Speculation Follow Trump COVID-19 Diagnosis
The news that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump contracted the novel coronavirus led to a wave of social media posts spreading misinformation — and politically charged speculation.

You can find all of our coverage of viral claims on the new coronavirus, and other topics, on our Facebook Initiative page. We work with Facebook to debunk misinformation on social media. Also, see our tips on how to spot false stories.

Coronavirus Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC provides daily updates of U.S. cases in each state, as well as information on how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you are sick. Information on COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States can be found here and here. Data on testing in the U.S. can be found here, and vaccines here.

CDC: COVID Data Tracker and Frequently Asked Questions
To check whether your county has low, moderate, substantial or high transmission, use the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker. The tracker also provides data on vaccination trends by state and jurisdiction. 

World Health Organization 
The WHO provides international travel advice and global situation reports, and answers questions.

COVID-19 global cases, as of March 17, mapped by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine
This website includes an interactive map that tracks COVID-19 cases, deaths and vaccine doses across the globe in near real time.

New York Times Coronavirus Tracking
The Times is tracking reported cases in the United States.

New England Journal of Medicine
The NEJM provides a “collection of articles and other resources on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, including clinical reports, management guidelines, and commentary.”

 

U.S. Department of Education 
This is a resource page for schools, teachers and other education personnel.

U.S. Department of Labor
The Labor Department provides resources to help workers and employers, including information on unemployment benefits and workplace safety.