Fact check: COVID-19 is not a bacterial infection as viral message claims

TNM reached out to an expert to discuss the veracity of these claims.
Fact check: COVID-19 is not a bacterial infection as viral message claims
Fact check: COVID-19 is not a bacterial infection as viral message claims
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"Breaking COVID news! Italy has allegedly discovered COVID is not a virus, but a bacterium….” Begins a message that has gone viral on social media.

The message puts forward several false claims with respect to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including that it is a bacterium and not a virus.

“A mandated vaccine is not necessary. COVID-19 is a bacterium, easily treated with aspirin and coagulant,” the message declares. There are other incorrect assertions made in this message as well. In addition to calling it a bacterial infection, the message claims that it can be treated with an anticoagulant drug for the patient to recover, and that no ventilators and intensive care units are required for treatment. It also incorrectly adds that it is “not pneumonia but it is Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (Thrombosis).”

TNM reached out to an expert to discuss the veracity of these claims.

Claim: ‘Bacterial, not viral’

Dr V Ramasubramanian, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai, explains that the infection is not bacterial but viral. “First of all, it is a viral infection, not a bacterial infection. There are no two questions about it. It causes viral pneumonia, so there is the viral infection in the lung,” he says.

While COVID-19 does cause increased blood clotting, that does not make it a bacterial disease. “It does increase the clotting capacity in the body, especially in the lungs. We also use a blood thinning agent now in our treatment for COVID-19. Whenever someone is admitted for treatment, we add a prophylactic low molecular weight heparin (an anticoagulant) or an anti-clotting injection. If they are very severely ill, we give them a higher dosage.”

Claim: ‘Fight it with Antibiotics, Antivirals, Anti-inflammatories’

The viral message asserts that Italian doctors found in their autopsies that it was “not pneumonia but rather Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (Thrombosis) which ought to be fought with antibiotics, antivirals, anti-inflammatories and anticoagulants.”

Dr Ramasubramanian categorically refutes the usage of antibiotics in this case. “It is not a simple matter of, ‘Oh, it’s a bacteria causing clot and by treating the clot, the person becomes healthy.’ It is a viral pneumonia causing clotting or hyper-coagulable state. It causes cytokine storm that also cause lung damage. This affects the oxygen transfer, leading to hypoxia (not enough oxygen),” he explains.

Cytokines are a large group of proteins, secreted by specific cells of the immune system, and they play an important role in normal immune responses. However, when there is a severe immune reaction, large quantities of cytokines are released quickly, like a storm, and this can be harmful for the person.

“Therefore, there is no role for antibiotic here. We only use anti-inflammatory drug. There is a role for steroids and anti-cytokine agents," he adds further noting that antiviral, anti-clotting and immune system modifying agents are also used.

Claim: ‘No need for ventilator or ICU’

Dr Ramasubramanian explains that doctors try their best to treat a patient without plugging them to a ventilator, however, when the need arises, it plays a crucial role in saving the life of a patient.

“In severe cases, the patient requires oxygen support. We try our best to avoid putting a person on a ventilator because once that happens, the mortality rate goes up by 50%. But we try various mechanisms of oxygen delivery for the patient before this. All that is done to keep the oxygen levels going till the body recovers,” he adds.

The operative part of misleading viral message is below:

"Breaking Covid news!  Italy has allegedly discovered covid is not a virus, but a bacterium. It clots the blood and reduces the oxygen saturation from dispersing throughout the body. They went against the World Health Organization's that no bodies be autopsied. When Italian Ministry of Health ordered many autopsies, they found the blood was clotted in all of the patients veins. They immediately started using aspirin 100mg and a coagulant medication. And have had immense success. […] Ventilators and ICU units were not necessary. A mandated vaccine is not necessary. Covid19 is a bacterium, easily treated with aspirin and coagulant. Spread the word! Make this global. Hopefully our president will learn about this and do something about it! Before we lose all of our constitutional freedoms."

The message then claims to quote two articles with similar findings.


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