While Wuhan is armoured and immunologists all over the world work on finding a therapy to eradicate the Coronavirus of the same name (or Coronavirus nCoV), news about the virus and infections are chasing and spreading on mainstream newspapers and on the web.

Unfortunately, in addition to reliable and verified news , there is no shortage of false and fact-checkers from all over the world, many of whom gathered in the project of the International Fact-Checking Network, are working to verify the news and deny the hoaxes. Let’s see what has been ascertained for now by Italian and international debunkers.

Image: Rex

Wuhan Coronavirus

One of the theses that turned out to be the most wrong is that spread by conspiracy theorists who claim the virus was  created in the laboratory  and that the vaccine was also developed. This version about the origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus was spread on social networks in the USA and denied by the main fact-checker organisations such as Politifacts, Factcheckers.org and Lead Stories. The main argument is based on a patent related to a Coronavirus, filed with the US Patent Office. The patent is actually related to the Coronavirus that caused the SARS epidemic in 2002. 

According to a Hispanic variant of the fake news, denied by  Animal Politico,  the holders of the patent would be the Karmalah Laboratories and the alleged image of the chemical engineer who worked on it was also circulated on the net. In reality, in the photo a Spanish YouTuber was portrayed, Raul Alvarez, in the past already a victim of unfounded accusations such as having set fire to Notre Dame and having started the fires in the Amazon. 

The reality is that there is no patent for the Wuhan Coronavirus, whose  genome  has been – providentially – made available to researchers all over the world by the Chinese doctors who have isolated it and is therefore in the public domain.

Image: Getty

Vaccine

Just as it is not true that Coronavirus was created in the laboratory, neither is it that there is a vaccine to defend itself. Therefore, the thesis, diffused by some US Facebook accounts and denied by Lead Stories , according to which the (non-existent) patent is only the prelude to the marketing of a vaccine, does not hold up  . A clever and perfidious strategy by pharmaceutical companies to increase profits, according to the conspiracy theory.

The  vaccine  unfortunately there is not, and even when they have the virus genome to develop an antidote may take time not very fast.

Transmission

The origins of the Wuhan Coronavirus, or the animal that transmitted it to humans, are not yet clear, many hypotheses have been proposed by multiple sources. Many are false, others highly unlikely. It is false that the virus is the result of a laboratory experiment that got out of hand by scientists and that it spread through an infected researcher during a laboratory accident. This fake news was disseminated by an ex-Israeli intelligence officer in an interview with the Washington Times, and was also reported by some information newspapers in Italy but, as shown by the analysis of the Italian fact-checkers of  Pagella Politica, not has no foundation.

News has circulated in several countries that the infection would occur through food. In Brazil, for example, it was claimed that bat soup was the origin of the infection. The news was  denied, and also in Italy the President of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Silvio Brusaferro, confirmed  that at the current state of research, food is not the original transmission vehicle.

There have been many hypotheses on the animal that conveyed the first transmission to humans, from snakes to bats, from pigs to cattle. There is  no certainty at the moment, despite research by immunologists around the world.

Remedies

There are also numerous recommended remedies online to avoid getting infected. Many of these, however, are completely ineffective, such as those shared on social networks in Taiwan (a country close to China and therefore particularly worried about the epidemic). The  FactChek Center in Taiwan  has traced at least four false preventive remedies that are circulating these days: ethanol, steroids, acetic acid and salt water. None of these prevent contagion. 

The only advice to follow are those provided by the World Health Organisation  and the precautions to be implemented for those travelling to countries where the virus is most common are those issued by the  Ministry of Health .

Image: Rex

Contagions

The pandemic panic has also created some reports of alleged infections in many countries of the world, which have fortunately turned out to be false. Also in Italy, an alarm was raised via two voice messages shared via WhatsApp on a Coronavirus case at the Lecce Emergency Department. The case was told and denied by Open.  

The reliable information on the spread of Wuhan Coronavirus in our country and the only officially reliable ones are those disseminated by the  Ministry of Health, which at the moment has excluded the presence of the virus in Italy. The Italian health authorities are currently investigating a case that is currently suspected in Naples.

For dissemination on a global level, the only official and reliable data are those of the WHO, collected in an interactive map  updated in real time and  easily accessible.