‘It’s garbage’: Infectious disease expert debunks ‘Facts Not Fear’ COVID-19 flyer

TORONTO — Among the letters, bills and coupons in their mailboxes, some Ontario residents have found a flyer claiming to expose the truth of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Titled “Facts Not Fear,” the flyer is just more junk mail, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch.

“It’s garbage,” he told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.

But the challenge with some conspiracy theories is that there are often nuggets of accuracy hidden in the lies, he said.

“Unfortunately with misinformation, you put in some partial truths that give it a little bit of credibility.”

Here’s how Bogoch debunked five key points in the flyer, which CTV Your Morning co-host Ben Mulroney received in his Toronto mailbox.

OVER 99 PER CENT SURVIVE

It’s true that the mortality rate among infected people is probably around 0.3 to 0.5 per cent, the flyer downplays a serious health crisis, said Bogoch.

“When you factor that [rate] in across 38 million Canadians, that’s over 150,000 dead Canadians. That’s unacceptably high,” he said. “We’re at 18,000 dead in Canada and that’s way too many. There’s more to this than surviving and dying.” 

MOST INFECTED HAVE LITTLE OR NO SYMPTOMS

While it’s also true that many infected with COVID-19 exhibit very minor to mild symptoms, the flyer makes light of an incredibly infectious disease that has put a strain on Canadian health care. 

“Our health care systems from coast to coast are stretched beyond capacity in many, many, many settings and it’s all related to COVID-19,” said Bogoch. 

THE RELIABILITY OF PCR TESTS

The flyer claims that the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests for COVID-19 are “notoriously unreliable.” Not so, said Bogoch.

“The test itself, if it’s used appropriately, is like the mainstay,” he told Your Morning. “For non-COVID-19 infections, we use this test all the time as well. It has revolutionized medicine.”

LOCKDOWNS ARE HARMFUL

It’s true that there is a potentially “tremendous toll” associated with lockdowns and health, said Bogoch, but they aren’t always “unnecessary,” as the flyer claims. With good public health policy measures in place, they can be avoided, he added, but they are effective.

“There’s just a list longer than my arm of places that have done this successfully. It’s not ideal, but it actually works,” he said.

FACE MASK EFFICACY

Face masks have been proven to help reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, particularly in indoor settings, said Bogoch. The flyer suggests they are unnecessary and unhealthy.

“It’s garbage. Face masks help,” he said. “Before COVID-19, people who worked in an operating room have been wearing face masks all day, most of the day, for a century now and they’re doing just fine.”


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