FactChecking the "Good News" COVID-19 social media post

A post has been circulating around Facebook today regarding "good news" on the COVID-19 front. The post lists 15 items of progress in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, but fails to provide citations or details, so ConnectLocal set out this morning to see if we could fill in some of the blanks. Here is our results:

1. China has closed down its last coronavirus hospital.

ConnectLocal found that: China has now closed all temporary hospitals in the central city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a coronavirus outbreak, according to a Twitter post by the Chinese government-backed news site, The Paper.


Wuhan temporary hospitals had around 5,600 spare beds by Feb. 28, according to Ma Xiaowei, head of the National Health Commission.


According to published figures, the 16 makeshift hospitals in Wuhan served 12,000 - 13,000 coronavirus patients. Almost 50,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in Wuhan, with 2,423 deaths. Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, has been in a lockdown state for 50 days.


Wuhan reported 17 new confirmed cases Monday, dropping below 20 for the first time and a significant contrast with a month ago, when 1,921 cases were reported on Feb. 9. No new confirmed cases were reported in other cities in Hubei for five consecutive days.


2. Doctors in India have been successful in treating Coronavirus. Combination of drugs used: Lopinavir, Retonovir, Oseltamivir along with Chlorphenamine. They are going to suggest same medicine, globally

ConnectLocal found that: An elderly couple from Italy traveled to India, where they subsequently both tested positive for COVID-19. They were both treated with a cocktail of drugs (listed above). She tested positive on March 4, and after treatment with the various drugs, tested negative sometime around March 20. Her husband, who was given the same medications, still is testing positive for COVID-19. It is not proven that the treatment cured her, she got better on her own, as many patients do, or a combination of the two.


However, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday stated that the treatment is not effective, according to an OnManorama report (OnManorama is an English language India newspaper). The study, according to the report, stated that 99 patients of COVID-19 who were given a combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir did not perform any better than 100 patients who were given standard care, with the one who were administered the anti-HIV drug showing clinical improvement in 15 days and those with standard care showing clinical improvement in 16 days. ConnectLocal located the NEJM study, which seems to confirm the OnManorama report.


3. Researchers of the Erasmus Medical Center claim to have found an antibody against coronavirus.

ConnectLocal found that:an antibody has been found, but any usefulness is still months away, if testing goes well.


"We have to be cautious though, as there are still a number of caveats. The antibody has yet to be tested on humans, which can take several months. Additionally, the research has also not yet been assessed by other research teams. That is happening right now. If the antibody is verified, the study is expected to be published in the leading scientific journal Nature," Dr. Frank Grosveld, a cell biologist at Erasmus Medical Center, stated in an interview with Universal Sci reporter.


4. A 103-year-old Chinese grandmother has made a full recovery from COVID-19 after being treated for 6 days in Wuhan, China.

ConnectLocal found that: This is accurate, according to numerous media reports, including the Independent. A 103-year-old woman has become the oldest person to beat COVID-19 and return home. Zhang Guangfen recovered from the disease after receiving treatment for just six days at a hospital in Wuhan – the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak. The centenarian’s quick recovery was down to her having no underlying health conditions apart from mild chronic bronchitis, her doctor Dr Zeng Yulan told reporters.


5. Apple reopens all 42 china stores,

ConnectLocal found that: Apple has reopened all 42 of its branded retail stores in China as of today, a company spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg and Reuters. The stores had all shuttered in early February as China restricted travel in an attempt to slow the coronavirus outbreak, but they have been gradually reopening over the past few weeks


6, Cleveland Clinic developed a COVID-19 test that gives results in hours, not days.

ConnectLocal found that: On March 5, News5Cleveland reported that MetroHealth Medical Center become the first hospital in the state that can nows test CXOVID-19 samples at its laboratory with results after just 2 hours.”


No other news outlet reported this news, or was the announcement made in the MetroHealth Center media relations webpage. Nor was there a press release on the Cleveland Clinic media relations page that supports this claim.


However, as of yesterday, March 21, The FDA granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Cepheid for their Xpert® Xpress SARS-CoV-2 test. This is a rapid molecular diagnostic test that can detect the presence of the COVID-19 causing coronavirus in approximately 45 minutes (Cepheid is an American molecular diagnostics company that develops and manufactures fully integrated medical testing systems.)


It should be noted that this test is not the same stand-alone test used in drive-through testing or even physician office testing for the general public. This SARS-CoV-2 test is a point-of-care test. “Point-of-care” testing can be used at the location where the doctor and other health care professionals are taking care of the patient, such as an emergency department or hospital. Locations that already have Cepheid’s GeneXpert Systems will then be able to use these machines to run the Xpert® Xpress SARS-CoV-2 test on-site rather then send the samples off-site thus significantly cutting down the waiting time.These tests will only be available in select emergency rooms and hospitals for now, and will be used


7. Good news from South Korea, where the number of new cases is declining.

ConnectLocal found that: The country of 50 million appears to have greatly slowed its epidemic; it reported only 74 new cases today, down from 909 at its peak on 29 February. And it has done so without locking down entire cities or taking some of the other authoritarian measures that helped China bring its epidemic under control., according to an article in Science magazine

“Behind its success so far has been the most expansive and well-organized testing program in the world, combined with extensive efforts to isolate infected people and trace and quarantine their contacts. South Korea has tested more than 270,000 people, which amounts to more than 5200 tests per million inhabitants.... The United States has so far carried out 74 tests per 1 million inhabitants, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show."

8. Italy is hit hard, experts say, only because they have the oldest population in Europe.

ConnectLocal found that: The reason why Italy is suffering so badly, write University of Oxford researchers in a new paper in the journal Demographic Science, may be twofold: The country has the second-oldest population on earth, and its young tend to mingle more often with the elderly, like their grandparents.


9. Scientists in Israel likely to announce the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

ConnectLocal found that: Reuters confirmed the impending announcement, with caveats. It is true that scientists at Israel’s Institute for Biological Research—a civilian organization formerly under the Defense Ministry—are soon expected to announce the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus, but this process might require many months of trials and experiments before it is deemed safe and effective, as reported by Haaretz ( here ). Manfred Green, a former vaccine evaluator for Israel’s Health Ministry warned that a proper vaccine development process could take up to 18 months. Green told The Times of Israel, that it could be “very risky” to rush this process,


10. Three Maryland coronavirus patients fully recovered; able to return to everyday life.

ConnectLocal found that: The Montgomery County Department of Health announced Friday afternoon that the county's first three positive COVID-19 cases have fully recovered.


11. A network of Canadian scientists are making excellent progress in Covid-19 research.

ConnectLocal found that: The Montreal Gazette newspaper confirmed that researchers have made discoveries that will aid in the fight against the pandemic. "It’s estimated it will take one year to 18 months to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Approximately 10 vaccine candidates are now in the works worldwide, with one ready for clinical testing in April, but human testing and further trials take roughly another year to complete.’


The isolated virus will help researchers in Canada and across the world develop better diagnostic testing, treatments and vaccines, and to gain a fuller understanding of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).


At the same time, Quebec City biopharmaceutical company Medicago announced it has produced a virus-like particle of the coronavirus that may be able to produce a vaccine against COVID-19.


12. A San Diego biotech company is developing a Covid-19 vaccine in collaboration with Duke University and National University of Singapore.

ConnectLocal found that: Arcturus Therapeutics has received a grant of up to US$10 million from the Singapore government to co-develop a vaccine. It will work with the Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School to conduct preclinical testing, followed in the next few months with human trials. If successful, Singapore’s government will own the rights to the vaccine within its borders, while Arcturus will be free to market it globally.


13. Tulsa County's first positive COVID-19 case has recovered.

ConnectLocal found that: This individual has had two negative tests, which is the indicator of recovery. The Tulsa Health Department announced that the first person to test positive for coronavirus in Oklahoma has recovered. Gov. Kevin Stitt announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Tulsa County last week. That person was described as a man in his 50s who had traveled to Italy.


14. A coronavirus tracker put up by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine shows that more than 73,000 people worldwide have recovered from Covid-19 so far.

ConnectLocal found that: Per Johns Hopkins tracker as of 5:45 pm March 22, 329,862 people have been confirmed positive, 97,846 (29.6627%) have recovered, including 178 in the US.

15. Plasma from newly recovered patients from Covid -19 can treat others infected by Covid-19.

ConnectLocal found that: There is no approved treatment, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn.

Plasma was mentioned in a recent press release as one of a slew of therapies being evaluated. “There’s also interest in evaluating whether therapies, such as convalescent plasma and hyperimmune globulin, antibody-rich blood products that are taken from blood donated by people who have recovered from the virus, could shorten the length, or lessen the severity, of the illness. The FDA is taking the lead on an urgent cross-government approach to facilitate the development of all of these products.”

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