Video of 'Doctor' Spreading False Claims About COVID-19 Goes Viral
Dr Tarun Kothari, who claims to be a radiologist, has been called out for his false statements on COVID-19.
A video where a man can be seen making several false claims about the COVID-19 pandemic has gone viral on social media platforms. The man, who identifies himself as Dr Tarun Kothari, claims that coronavirus is like a simple flu, masks are making people sick and goes on to say that the COVID-19 vaccine has killed more people than the disease.
Not only are the claims made by Dr Kothari false, they have been debunked several times before, including by The Quint's WebQoof team. We also found that Dr Kothari, who claims to be a radiologist, has been called out for his false statements by other fact-checkers as well.
In the video, the man claiming to be a doctor, says, "No matter what the prime minister, the Delhi Police Commissioner or the reporters tell you, do not to wear a mask. If you wear a mask, your oxygen level will fall and it will lead to several diseases".
"The vaccine is causing several thousand deaths, much more than COVID-19 itself," he adds while asking people to not take the vaccine.
He also says that COVID-19 is like a simple flu as the death rate from it is very low.
One user, who shared the video on Facebook, said, "I met today Dr Tarun Kothari, MBBS at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib on today's peaceful protest by Awaken India Movement. Take off your masks and listen to him."
We found that the video was being shared on WhatsApp and Telegram groups that spread COVID-19 misinformation.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
In order to check the claim, we first checked the doctor's qualifications. The search didn't yield any convincing results about him. The search said that that he is a radiologist and runs a diagnostic centre called Indo-American Health Care in New Delhi's Paschim Vihar area.
We didn't find any research paper under his name printed in any reputed medical journal on COVID-19 or otherwise. According to his LinkedIn profile, he did his MBBS from Dr Sampurnanand Medical College (SNMC) and MD from Ravindra Nath Tagore Medical College, Udaipur.
He has also written two books, claiming how COVID-19 is a scam and his social media posts also reflect the same.
We also found past instances in which Dr Kothari had been called out for spreading misinformation on COVID-19. Last year, Dr Kothari put out a video propagating similar misinformation and conspiracy theories around COVID-19, which was debunked by Health Analytics Asia.
Dr Kothari has had his Facebook profiles removed for spreading misinformation but he keep creating new ones, as can be seen from a tweet posted on his Twitter handle. The doctor also has a huge presence on Telegram groups that promote anti-vaccination theories.
Let's look at the claims made by the doctor in detail.
CLAIM 1: 'Wearing the Mask Reduces Oxygen Level in the Body and Will Make One Ill'
Claims about masks being harmful for people have been around for a while. The Quint's WebQoof team had previously debunked these claims as well.
Health authorities around the world, including the World Health Organisation, have recommended wearing of masks to control the spread of COVID-19.
Dr Kumar, Founder Trustee of Lung Care Foundation, explains the importance of wearing a mask in this way:
"If I am infected and sitting across a table from a healthy person while wearing an N95 mask, 95 percent of my aerosol stays inside the mask. Even though 5 percent escapes, its velocity is less and it falls down as it escapes the mask. It will not reach the person sitting at a distance of one meter. If the person in front of me is also wearing a mask then it is safer because the viral particle will stop on the surface of his mask. Surgical masks and cloth masks offer similar protection but the degree is reduced.”
Dr Kumar, however, also said that it is not advisable for people to wear a mask when they are doing any form for physical exercise as it will reduce the oxygen level in the body.
Dr Richa Sarin, Pulmonology and Critical Care Medicine Consultant at Fortis Hospital said, "The mask that regular public uses is not air tight or sealed. It is not that the CO2 you are releasing through your breath is not going out. These masks prevent aerosols and virus from going in or out. But the carbon dioxide molecules are much smaller in size and can go out easily through a mask."
CLAIM 2: 'Vaccine Is Killing More People Than COVID-19'
This claim is completely false. In India, the official deaths due to COVID-19 have crossed the 4 lakh mark. However, data from local sources and studies have said that the actual numbers could be way higher, from somewhere between 1.3 million to 5 million.
On the contrary, only one person has died due to anaphylaxis following vaccination, as per the Aational Adverse Events Following Immunisation committee. As of 23 July, over 42 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country.
CLAIM 3: 'COVID-19 is a Simple Flu and Deaths Are Very Less'
Claims comparing COVID-19 with the seasonal flu have been shared from the beginning of the pandemic.
While both cause respiratory disease, there are several important differences between the two disease, how they spread and their impact.
The flu is caused by an influenza virus, while COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2, which is a coronavirus.
The key difference, however, is in the reproductive and mortality rates. The reproductive rate of COVID-19 (the number of people that can be infected from one person) is much higher than the flu, according to the WHO.
While the mortality rate from COVID-19 is yet to be determined accurately, the crude mortality rate is above 2 percent which is much higher than that of a the flu (0.1 percent).
Additionally, recovering from COVID-19 does not mean a person has returned to her/his normal condition. Studies have shown the lingering effects of the disease on the patients in what is termed as “long COVID”. A report published in the British Medical Journal said that 45 percent of people admitted with COVID-19 would need ongoing support.
Therefore, it is incorrect to equate COVID-19 with the flu.
(This story has been published as a part of The Quint’s COVID-19 fact-check project targeting rural women. It was flagged to us by our partner organisation Video Volunteers.)
(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)
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