At the start of the coronavirus epidemic in Ukraine, many messenger groups were flooded with information that helicopters would be flying around Kyiv disseminating disinfectants and, therefore, Kyivans must keep their windows shut.
That was obviously a fake, of which there have been many in Ukraine and Eastern Europe this spring. A lot of the disinformation is spread over Facebook, but, luckily, the social media platform has already partnered up with Ukraine's VoxCheck and StopFake to combat false information.
It’s a common refrain that "rumors spread on the Internet". Naturally, in the coronavirus era, "rumors spread" about the virus. We have compiled the most popular myths, fakes, and conspiracy theories in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Read, laugh and check information.
Sanitary Pads = Doubly Protected
Russian media outlet “Bloknot Stavropol” published a video in which a former infectious disease specialist, Zinaida (who is also an expert in homeopathy and face lifting), recommended gluing a sanitary pad to a medical mask. According to her, a person only needs to apply a few drops of a tincture called propolis – a tree resin used by bees – and put on this questionable design to avoid getting infected in public.
Don’t rush to follow Zinaida's online instructions. Trust information experts and vetted organizations instead – like the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health.
WHO does not advise wearing medical masks just for the sake of it. They’re needed for people with symptoms of respiratory illnesses, such as coughing or shortness of breath, as well as those who are in contact with patients.
On the other hand, Ukraine's Health Ministry recommends wearing a mask so you don't infect other people. The agency has recently obliged everyone to wear masks, because, at the present stage, everyone is considered to be potentially infected – according to the Chief Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine, Viktor Lyashko.
"We appreciate that the mask does not protect the person. But when there is a mask, the release of biological material, which may contain the pathogen, is reduced, and does not reach 1.5 meters, and can only go as far as 10-15 centimeters," he said.
Additionally, antiviral action is not among the pharmacological properties of the propolis tincture. It helps to heal micro-injuries, and skin or mucous membranes.
"Let's use things according to their functional use. Propolis is not a cure," deputy director of the Oberig Clinic, Oleksandr Linchevskyy told hromadske.
Meanwhile, sanitary pads should be used in feminine care. The instructions show their proper usage – sticking them to panties, not to masks. And anyway, the adhesive surface of the pad is a poor transmitter of air.
Use all items as directed.
The coronavirus came from the Satan, says numerology
You are probably thinking: why even pay attention to the latest fits of numerologists if they don't have any scientific evidence? And you are right. But some people aren’t as reliant on facts. Recently, a video appeared on the Internet that featured a confident voice rendering the word "coronavirus" into numbers (by the placement of each letter in the Russian alphabet), "multiplied" them and stated that the result was the magical number of the beast – 666,666,666,666.
Despite the sheer absurdity of this claim, we got our abacuses out to check and multiply. It’s actually 178,711,142,400.
The “superfake” award goes to the author of the video and the award for the lack of critical thinking is to the 22,000 people who shared the clip.
Coughing on the marshrutka? You will get beaten up
It's easy to believe in fakes that look real and come with credible videos. For example, a passenger in a marshrutka (shuttle bus) was allegedly beaten and kicked by a man for coughing.
At first, it was about Vinnytsia, but then changed to Lviv. Several Ukrainian media published the video, but later the Security Service of Ukraine refuted this information. The media removed the information and wrote retractions, but the initial news was enough to leak into the Russian media landscape and Ukrainian Facebook.
Passengers are waiting for a shuttle bus at a stop in Kyiv, March 20, 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE / SERGEY DOLZHENKO
Conspiracy theories about coronavirus
One of the top myths in Russian-language media is that the coronavirus is an artificial biological weapon of the United States. For example, the Russian TV channel Tsargrad TV published a video called "Coronavirus – a biological weapon of the United States against those who got out of control."
Conversely, a popular myth in English-language media is that the coronavirus is a Chinese bioweapon.
For all those fond of inventing conspiracy theories or clicking on such headlines, we’ll remind you of the official and confirmed information about the coronavirus.
Coronaviruses are a large family of respiratory viruses that can cause diseases of varying severity: from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome.
The disease that is caused by the new coronavirus is called COVID-19. The virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019. At that time, most people affected by the new virus had something to do with the market in this city. Today, the virus is transmitted by airborne droplets from person to person.
There is a cure for coronavirus
No, there isn’t one. However, some media outlets, fortune tellers and manufacturers of pseudo-medicine like "blablacetronite" like to lie and say the opposite.
It’s not just the media and homeopathy experts who write questionable information about medicines. Recently, representatives of the National Academy of Medical Sciences have come under criticism for their recommendation to use the drug "proteflazid" in the fight against coronavirus. The academy published a response to the criticism, and the video of the press conference was deleted.
They claim that the ancient herbal preparation "proteflazid" (based on alcohol and herbs) has an effect on coronaviruses. But no one claims that it is definitely effective in the treatment – what they say is that it does no harm.
One doctor, Serhiy Borshchov, has commented on the likely effectiveness of the drug in COVID-19 infection. According to him, "proteflazid" can be considered a really effective drug, especially because the drugs that are included in the approved treatment protocol have some contraindications, and also have no evidential basis of any effects on COVID-19.
But "proteflazid", he said, has advantages such as “no side effects, domestic production and that it can be provided free of charge.”
At the same time, Oleksandr Linchevskyy, a former deputy health minister to Ulana Suprun and deputy director of the Oberig Clinic, spoke out against statements from the National Academy of Medical Sciences, and in particular of its president, Vitaliy Tsymbalyuk.
“A medic cannot recommend a medicine that has never been properly tested in 20 years. The actions of the Academy of Medical Sciences is absolutely unworthy and immoral, it is simply unacceptable,” he said in a comment to hromadske.
Anesthesiologist Andriy Semyankiv, who runs Med Goblin, a popular medical blog, detailed the ineffectiveness of "proteflazid" back in 2018.
This alcohol-based agent (96%) was used to fight HIV, fungus, hepatitis, chickenpox, papillomavirus (by putting drops into the mouth and vagina!) etc.
We would like to reiterate: there is currently no cure for COVID-19 coronavirus disease, and patients are receiving symptomatic treatment.
The MoH approved the treatment protocol, but there is neither "proteflazid", nor "arbidol" nor propolis in the list of medicines.
Therefore, it’s recommended to not self-medicate, to check the effectiveness of medicines, and not to go around looking for tufted hairgrass and bushgrass (“proteflazid” components).
For all the latest updates on the coronavirus in Ukraine, follow this link.