Morphed BBC Article Used to Link Black Fungus Cases to Cow Urine
Both BBC and author Soutik Biswas have called the viral screenshot a piece of misinformation.
The headline of the article seen in the viral screenshot reads: ‘Black fungus: Indian scientist find link with cow urine 9,000 cases of rare infection. (sic)’
It further shows that it was allegedly written by Soutik Biswas, BBC’s India correspondent.
The Quint received a query on the claim being made in the viral image on its WhatsApp tipline as well.
WHAT WE FOUND
We searched on Google with the help of the words mentioned in the headline of the alleged BBC article. However, it yielded no results. We then analysed the viral image and found several red flags suggesting that it’s a morphed image. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
1. GRAMMATICAL ERRORS IN THE TEXT
The headline of the article reads: ‘Black fungus: Indian scientist find link with cow urine 9,000 cases of rare infection. (sic)’
This is grammatically incorrect because it should have been ‘Indian scientist finds link’ or ‘Indian scientists find link,’ as the case may be. Further, the headline should have made use of a comma or semi-colon between “urine” and “9,000.”
A similar error can be seen in the first line of the article, where it should have been either “Scientist in India has discovered” or “Scientists in India have discovered,” as the case may be.
2. COMPARISON BETWEEN VIRAL IMAGE AND ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY BBC
We came across an article authored by Soutik Biswas for the BBC with the headline: ‘Black fungus: India reports nearly 9,000 cases of rare infection.’
On comparing this BBC article with the viral image, we found several discrepancies in terms of formatting. For instance, in the actual BBC article, the headline, byline, and dateline are all left-aligned, one under the other.
However, in case of viral image, one case see a small gap between the alignment of the headline, byline, and dateline.
Even the font of the headline is different in the two cases.
WHERE IS THE TEXT OF THE VIRAL IMAGE FROM?
We found that a part of the text of the viral article had been lifted from the BBC article written by Biswas.
The BBC article says, “Doctors say there is a link with the steroids used to treat Covid.” While the viral image says, “Doctors say there is a link with steroids used to treat Covid and reaction to cow urine...”
The line, “Doctors have told the BBC it seems to strike 12 to 18 days after recovery from Covid,” is same in both the cases.
Further, we could trace the display picture back to 2014 when a website had uploaded a presentation on Pulmonary Zygomycosis. However, we haven’t independently verified the details of the image.
‘FAKE’: AUTHOR, BBC ON THE VIRAL SCREENSHOT
Speaking to The Quint’s WebQoof team, Soutik Biswas said that the viral image is “fake.” He further shared BBC press office’s statement that reads: “This is a fake post. We would urge audiences to check our website bbc.com/news.”
Further, when a Twitter user asked if the article mentioned in the viral screenshot has been penned by Biswas, he replied, “fake news.”
Despite there being no evidence, several people have repeatedly suggested using 'gobar' (cow dung) and 'gau mutra' (cow urine) as a cure for COVID-19. Recently, BJP MP from Bhopal Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur came out with a claim that drinking gau mutra (cow-urine) of a desi (Indian) cow has prevented her from getting infected with the novel coronavirus.
Doctors and scientists have repeatedly warned against the use of cow dung and cow urine to treat COVID-19. You can read our fact-check to find out all false claims around curing coronavirus with cow excrements here.
Evidently, a morphed screenshot of a BBC article was used to falsely claim that the organisation published a report on an Indian scientist finding a link between the black fungus infection and cow urine.
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