Viral Message on Omicron Variant Falsely Attributed to Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
The message first originated on a blog and are not notes shared by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
A 14-point message regarding the nature and severity of the variant is being widely shared across social media platforms, as notes taken by Biocon chairperson during a call with Edward Ryan MD, Director of International Infectious Disease at Massachusetts General Hospital () in the United States of America ().
However, we found that Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw did not share any such message. We came across a press release by Massachusetts General Hospital that addressed the message, calling it an “individual’s personal notes” which “lack context, details and nuance.”
The claim is being widely shared on social media, as notes taken by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw on a presentation by Edward Ryan MD, Director of International Infectious Disease and Massachusetts General Hospital.
The 14-point message remarks on the surge of cases related to the Omicron variant, its peak and duration, positivity rate, booster shots and hospitalisations.
It also makes points regarding testing, symptom manifestation, infections and dismisses contact tracing and isolation in those who are immunocompromised or under the age of 85.
Archived versions of posts with similar claims on social media can be viewed , and .
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We found that the claim was first seen on a , which carried other posts showing skepticism related to vaccines and COVID-19.
We conducted a keyword search to check whether Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw had made any such statements and did not find any news reports on the same. Next, we checked her and accounts, where we found no post of this kind.
Next, we looked up Edward Ryan MD using his designation as additional keywords and found that he is indeed the Director of Global Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and is also a at Harvard’s T H Chan School of Public Health.
The results led us to a issued by MGH on 10 January 2022, acknowledging the viral message. The hospital stated that the message had reflected “an individual’s personal notes” from a talk by Dr Ryan and lacked “context, details and nuance saying
The release added that statements regarding the role of vaccines in mitigating disease and death were not included and that those with comorbidities must “continue to take extra precautions,” regardless of their age.
Fact-checking website Newschecker contacted Shaw, who rubbished the claim saying, "I just received the message on WhatsApp and I forwarded the message".
We then sought to check the different claims made in the viral message.
It then commented on people not needing vaccines of the newest variant, as "they wouldn't be able to develop one before it's completely gone."
However, as per reports, booster doses of currently available vaccines such as and in India have shown to be effective in fighting or eliminating the Omicron variant, thereby reducing the need for a dedicated vaccine for this variant.
In its concluding points, it makes unverifiable statements such as “contact tracing is worthless” as people cannot keep up with the spread and that this wave across the world is the “last war with COVID.”
Clearly, a viral message which lists various points regarding the Omicron variant and COVID-19 is being falsely shared as notes by Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
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