On the 21st June 2022, L’express a media house in Mauritius published an article entitled : “Vaccination des petits: grosse dose d’appréhension” (Vaccination of children: a wave of apprehension), which includes statements from the group No Vax for Kids and their spokesperson Alain Sheraton. Some of the claims that were made by the group and its spokesperson seemed quite dubious :
« Le docteur Robert Malone, un des experts qui a travaillé sur l’ARN messager, sont opposés à la vaccination des enfants. Il a déclaré que « cela risque de produire des protéines toxiques. Et les effets sont irréversibles.»
« Il a même dit que les enfants ont une immunité assez forte et qu’ils n’ont pas besoin de ce vaccin. »
« Le vaccin proposé par le gouvernement est encore “au stade expérimental et n’a pas franchi toutes les étapes des essais cliniques. »
Claim 1: “Doctor Robert Malone, one of the experts who worked on messenger RNA, is opposed to the vaccination of children. He said it risks producing toxic proteins. And the effects are irreversible.”
Claim 2: “ He even said that children have a strong enough immunity and that they do not need this vaccine.”
Claim 3: “The government’s proposed vaccine is still “in the experimental stage and has not gone through all the stages of clinical trials.”
How have we proceeded with the fact check?
Step 1: We have identified the sources of the claims by verifying the association ‘No Covid Vax for Kids’, the profile of the interviewee Alain Sheraton and the profile of the doctor whom the latter relied upon to support his argument.
Step 2: We have highlighted concepts that were suspicious. For example: toxic proteins, strong enough immunity, experimental stage.
Step 3: We have inspected the arguments using reliable data from sources like BBC News, AFP Fact Check, Health Feedback, scientific research articles, press releases including statistical surveys from Pfizer and the World Health Organisation (WHO), amongst others.
Step 4: We have come with a verdict after the fact-checking procedure has been completed.
Why does Dr Malone’s statement which is cited by the anti-vax group seems fishy?
The media organisation quotes Alain Sheraton, spokesperson for the group No Covid Vax For Kids who referred to an existing misinformation by Dr Robert Malone. The American physician believes that the covid vaccine might produce harmful proteins and that its effects on children are irreversible. However, the author of this article, Hansa Nancoo, chose to post the claim of the spokesperson which relied on the medical practitioner without feeling the need to verify the latter’s profile. The article of l’express does not make any reference to the multiple controversies which have occurred during the pandemic about the claims which Robert Malone has made. The latter presented himself as the inventor of the mRNA vaccines on his Twitter profile which has been proven to be wrong by Politifact and international news sources like New York Times. He has indeed contributed to the technology, but there are multiple other researchers who have been instrumental in this area, including Dr. Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó who won prestigious medical prizes.
It is surprising to see that both the journalist of L’express and the interviewee did not make any effort to check the authenticity of the information and the profile of the practitioner considering that his Twitter account was even banned for spreading fake news around Covid-19 jabs and that he is known for having a history of misinformation. An article published by BBC news on the 31st January 2022 reads “Dr Malone was banned from Twitter in December last year for violating its covid misinformation policies”.
Does the vaccine produce toxic proteins?
The claim of Dr Malone as highlighted by the interviewee Alain Sheraton asserts that:
“ Cela risque de produire des protéines toxiques. Et les effets sont irréversibles.”
“This risks producing toxic proteins. And the effects are irreversible”
A review published on the 20th December 2021 by Health Feedback, a website providing health information which is funded by Facebook, Tiktok, Google News Initiative and the University of California Merced among others completely contradicts Dr Malone’s claim by stating that “the spike protein generated from vaccines is cleared from the body after a few weeks and primarily remains at the site of infection”. Previous fact-check exercises conducted on the topic by AFP fact-checking have equally demonstrated that there has not been any scientific evidence to validate the physician’s claim. Instead of producing ‘toxic proteins’, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that mRNA vaccines have been proved to produce antibodies which prevent individuals from getting sick.
Information on the Messenger RNA
CDC highlights the fact that researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades.
Examples of the messenger RNA vaccines would include the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This vaccine is being shipped to many parts of the world to protect oneself from the virus as reported by Pfizer.
Claim 2 : “Il a même dit que les enfants ont une immunité assez forte et qu’ils n’ont pas besoin de ce vaccin”.
“He even said that children have a strong enough immunity and that they do not need this vaccine.”
Immunity is the collective term for the physiological processes that allow a person’s body to identify substances as alien and neutralize, remove, or metabolize them without causing harm to its own tissue. Here, Alain Sheraton is referring to a claim stated by the ‘misinformation star’ Robert Malone, that all children worldwide, without the exception of those with innate immune deficit or with any type of comorbidity, have the same level of immunity.
This particular sentence doesn’t seem to make any difference between children of different age groups, as well as children who may have different levels of immunity or who may have comorbidities. An article published by The National Library of Medicine states that a person’s immunity is based on hereditary or non-hereditary influences. Another article on the same website mentions that new-borns and premature babies tend to have weak innate immunity as compared to when they would grow up. However, Alain Sheraton’s statement groups together all children and asserts that all of them have exactly the same level of immunity, which according to him is strong enough and therefore they would not need the vaccine.
What does the WHO suggest about the vaccination of children aged 5-11?
The WHO recommends countries to use the Pfizer vaccine in children aged between 5-11 with comorbidities. Moreover, a recent article published on the WHO highlights the fact that the Government of Mauritius will provide Pfizer vaccination to around 307 educational institutions. This campaign has been made possible under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and a representative of WHO named Dr I. Hazarika, who have assured the population that the vaccination is safe and crucial for the children.
Why are young immune systems still on the top?
An immunologist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne, stated that “children recently infected with SARS-CoV-2 have been found to have higher levels of activated neutrophils, cells that are on the front line in the response to unfamiliar invaders. Neutrophils ingest viral particles before they have a chance to replicate“. Thus, the innate immune system in kids have the power to fight coronavirus, hence proving Sheraton’s claim to be partly true.
Claim 3 : “Le vaccin proposé par le gouvernement est encore “au stade expérimental et n’a pas franchi toutes les étapes des essais cliniques””.
“The government’s proposed vaccine is still “in the experimental stage and has not gone through all the stages of clinical trials“.
In this claim dated 21st June 2022, the group No Covid Vax for Kids states that Pfizer, the vaccine dedicated to children under 12 years old in Mauritius as well as for people over 40 years old as shown in the communique of the Economic Development Board, has not gone through all the stages of clinical trials.
Despite the fact that he was in a conference against 5-11 years vaccinations, in his statement, Alain Sheraton does not clearly state whether he is targeting the vaccine that was made specifically for the 5-11 years old or is he generally speaking about the vaccine for any age group.
It should be noted that Pfizer has split the vaccine dosage according to different age groups as follows:
Each category has its own different clinical trials carried out by Pfizer/BioNTech.
According to the Food and Drug Administration’s conditions , a vaccine in the US requires having undergone a minimum of 3 phases to clinical trials before it is approved and licensed. It can be seen that Pfizer has completed its phase 3 of trial, based on 3082 children aged between 5-11, as published in a report by the World Health Organisation.
However, it is possible that the vaccine has been studied during 2021 against all variants of SARS-CoV-2 that had developed in that particular time span. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control shows that Omicron had developed other sub-variants namely BA.4 and BA.5 in January and February 2022 respectively.
Moreover, according to Defimedia.info cases of Omicron BE have been reported during the month of July 2022 in Mauritius as well, that has not yet been documented by the WHO.
Hence, it can be said that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has officially completed all stages of clinical trial for approval. However, its efficiency against new sub-variants which have emerged after approval has not yet been proved. Additionally, there have been counter studies concerning Pfizer (BNT162b2) which show that the 5-11 years olds’ vaccine’s effectiveness has significantly declined and that they showed less protection against Delta. In this case, there is no evidence yet to prove that another clinical trial can be expected to be carried out by Pfizer/BioNTech concerning the 5-11 years olds so that the suitable dosage of a shot can be reconfirmed against Delta.
Available data :
Supports the first claim that the information provided by Doctor Robert Malone is misleading and incorrect since it has been proven that the vaccines do not produce toxic spike proteins.
Shows that that second claim is partially correct since research proves that the children’s immunity is actually strong.
Shows that the third claim is partially incorrect given that Pfizer has completed the vaccine’s clinical trial for the 2021 SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Consequences of sharing such claims
Claim 1: Sharing such claims without verifying the information can mislead the public into thinking that the vaccines are extremely toxic for children and thus, many parents are less likely to consider vaccinating their offspring.
Claim 2: Parents might start thinking that their kids are absolutely not at risk of being Covid-19 positive.
Claim 3: Such claims as those made by the No Covid Vax for Kids group which sow doubts about the approval status of the vaccine can discourage parents from agreeing to vaccinate their kids. So far, only 12,290 schoolchildren have received the first dose of the Covid vaccine.
The period of Covid-19 has undoubtedly witnessed a surge of vaccine misinformation and unfortunately, Mauritian media organisations like L’express seem to be encouraging such practices occasionally. The spokesperson of the group along with the newspaper can be perceived as contributing to the spread of misinformation. It is irresponsible of L’express for not verifying the content before publishing to prevent this misinformation spread considering that vaccination for kids is a sensitive topic.
Upon using reliable sources of information, it has been shown that the claims stated by members of the group No Covid Vax for Kids are partially false. The first claim is incorrect and the two last claims are misleading.
Fact-check produced by: Mauree Kokeelavani, Bumma Vidyasharita, Gobeen Sachita
Under the supervision of Christina Chan Meetoo
Module: Investigative and data driven Journalism
Bsc (Hons) Communications Studies (Specialisation Journalism) Year 3
The title carries the sub-text that foreign voters, especially Bangladeshis, have been used by the ruling coalition to win elections and are thus being massively welcome in Mauritius to rig elections.
Claim that needs to be fact checked
The key claim is that foreign workers from Bangladesh largely contributed to the victory of “L’Alliance Morisien (MSM / ML)” in the legislative elections of Mauritius in 2019.
These are the sentences which we propose to examine in our fact-check:
“Vu que dans certaines circonscriptions, seulement des dizaines de votes séparaient les gagnants des vaincus, cela prouverait qu’il n’était pas nécessaire de véhiculer des milliers et des milliers de Bangladeshis vers les centres de vote. Quelques centaines de votants spéciaux auraient pu faire toute la différence.”
Translation: “Since in some constituencies, only dozens of votes separated the winners from the losers, this would prove that it was not necessary to transport thousands and thousands of Bangladeshis to the polling centers. A few hundred special voters could have made all the difference.”
The MSM/ML coalition won the 2019 elections with 37% of the votes and, according to the article, if Soopramanien Kistnen (MSM agent killed in October 2020) was still alive, he could have made revelations about the alleged operation set up to get Bangladeshis to vote, the largest contingent of foreign workers residing in Mauritius (30,000 and 40,000).
The article also claims that the ruling party has a database listing all foreign workers and that a contractor who is a man of confidence in the government, a close friend of a minister, brings in the foreigners. It further claims that, on polling day, the ruling party is able to have a small team of mobilizers like Kistnen to get out the vote (GOTV) of these foreigners. The author states that Kistnen is unfortunately no longer in this world to describe the GOTV plan in detail.
Mauritius’ electoral system
First, we propose to check whether “in some constituencies, only dozens of votes separated the winners from the losers“. Before checking the election results, we need to understand the Mauritian electoral system. The electoral system is a Block Vote (BV) system which is the use of First-Past-The Past (FPTP) voting in multimember districts.
There are 62 elected representatives by party list from 20 three-seat constituencies for the main island and one two-seat constituency for Rodrigues, an island located some 560 km east of the main island. In addition to this “block-voting”, a maximum of eight additional seats may be allocated to the “best losers” on the basis of their ethno-religious communities in order to ensure that seats are allocated to any under-represented communities. (Source: EISA)
To proceed with our fact-check, we have examined the detailed results per constituency using data published by the Electoral Supervisory Commission. For each constituency, we have calculated the gap betwen the third elected candidate and the fourth (unelected) candidate.
Table 1: Gaps between the third elected candidates and the fourth (unelected) candidates per constituency
*Note that on the island of Rodrigues only the first two candidates get a seat in parliament.
What did the results of the votes reveal about gaps between winners and losers?
There are 6 constituencies (numbers 1,14,15,16,17,19) where the gap is small between the candidates of L’Alliance Morisien (MSM/ML) and the 4th (unelected) candidates from other parties which are the L’Alliance Nationale (PTR/PMSD) and the MMM. By adding up all these differences in these 6 constituencies, the total comes up to 574 differences in votes.
Based on our calculations, the author’s point about the small gap between the third elected candidate and the fourth unelected candidate is entirely valid.
In the same paragraph, the author states that, in some constituencies, only dozens of votes separated the winners from the losers, which proved that it was not necessary to transport thousands and thousands of Bangladeshis to the voting centers. A few hundred special voters could make all the difference.
To check this claim, we need to examine the number of foreign voters who were eligible and registered by the Electoral Supervisory Commission for the 2019 elections.
Table 2: There were 838 foreigners eligible and registered to vote for the 2019 elections
The article further states: “Si Kistnen était encore en vie, il aurait pu faire des révélations sur l’opération mise en place pour faire voter des Bangladeshis, le plus fort contingent des travailleurs étrangers résidant à Maurice. Ils seraient entre 30 000 et 40 000 ces étrangers employés par diverses entreprises.”
Translation: “If Kistnen was still alive, he could have made revelations about the operation set up to get Bangladeshis to vote, the largest contingent of foreign workers residing in Mauritius. There would be between 30,000 and 40,000 of these foreigners employed by various companies.”
By referring to the large size of the cohort of Bangladeshi workers (30,000 to 40,000), this paragraph thus insinuates that Bangladeshi voters are those who made a massive difference in the elections of candidates from the MSM/ML coalition.
The table published by the same newspaper in the article entitled “Dossier: recensement et droit de vote aux étrangers” clearly indicates that only 45 Bangladeshis were registered to vote for the 2019 general elections. This is in clear contrast with the allusion to the 30,000 to 40,000 Bangladeshi workers. It also seems grossly unfair to target this particular cohort of foreigners as it can be seen that they represent only 5.36% of registered foreign voters. The largest number of foreign voters actually orignate from India, followed by South Africa and Britain.
For the sake of argument, we will take into consideration the 523 Indian voters, because in Mauritius, Bangladeshis and Indians are often associated. The total number of Indian and Bangladeshi registered voters is 568 (523+45). It is thus true that the votes of these foreigners can make a difference in the election results. But we do not know how many of them actually voted and in which constituency they voted. We will never know as well for which party they voted because it is confidential.
Note: an email has been sent to the office of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) to find out the number of foreigners who voted in each constituency. The information will be updated as soon as they have replied.
Simulation of 2019 election results without Indian and Bangladeshi votes
Let us do a simulation to check if the claim in the article is true (that is, that foreigners influenced the results), and what would be the final outcome of the election without Indian and Bangladeshi voters. As mentioned earlier, there are 6 constituencies that may be referred to in this claim. The 6 seats of these constituencies would be allocated to the 4th candidate in this simulation which are from the opposition parties.
Thus, based on the claim that foreigners helped the MSM/ML win elections, the simulation clearly shows that even if foreigners had not voted for MSM/ML, the outcome would have been in the latter’s favor since they would still be in the lead, although this lead would have been reduced with a total of 32 seats.
The results also show that, in constituencies 3 and 5, there was a small gap between the 3rd and 4th candidates of the other two parties. So, winning by a small margin was not just for MSM/ML candidates.
What if the opposition had decided to unite?
Even if the two opposition parties had decided to unite, according to the simulation, the MSM/ML coalition would still have led. However, they would have a smaller majority in this scenario, that is, by 4 seats instead of 16 seats.
Official election results: 38 – 22 = 16 seats
Simulated election results: 32 – 28 = 4 seats
Result after fact-checking the claim
The claim that these foreign Bangladeshi workers, as the article says, determined the victory of L’Alliance Morisien (MSM/ML), is false because the current government won the elections by 38 seats against 22. Even if Indian and Bangladeshi foreigners (568) had not voted in favour of the current government, but had voted in favour of other parties or even had not voted, the simulation shows that L’Alliance Morisien (MSM/ML), would still have won the majority, albeit with a smaller gap. And even if there had been a coalition between the opposition parties, the results would have been 32 to 28 seats in favour of the current governing coalition. It should also be noted that no data has been published about the real participation of foreigners in the last general elections as some of those registered may have abstained from voting on polling day as is the case for Mauritian voters (23% abstention rate according to the ESC).
Consequences of sharing such a claim in Mauritius.
The title ‘Les votants étrangers, surtout les Bangladeshis, most welcome!’ itself is a real problem as it is directly targeting Bangladeshis whereas they are a very small minority of registered voters as compared to other nationalities. So, the real issue in this article is the treatment Bangladeshis are getting from the media. While on the list of registered foreign voters, India is first with 523 registered voters, South Africa is second with 68 registered voters and Britain third with 67 registered voters, the article does not even mention them. The article directly targets Bangladeshis who are only fourth with 45 registered voters on the list. Thus, the article contains racist and xenophobic undertones against Bangladeshis.
Publishing this type of piece without verifying the data can lead to social consequences. There have been cases of Bangladeshis being abused in Mauritius in the past. And politics is one of the most consumed news in Mauritius. Therefore, tying Bangladeshis to political affairs can escalate the situation and sow disorder in the country. Conversely, it should be kept in mind that there are approximately 188,300 Mauritians living abroad (Australia, Canada, United Kingdom), i.e 14.8% of the Mauritian population and that they would certainly not like to be treated in the same way in their country of adoption.
Les récents débats à Maurice ont été longuement animés par la hausse du prix des carburants. Une hausse qui ne laisse pas indifférents les automobilistes mauriciens. Cette vidéo tentera d’analyser et de vérifier les propos du Premier Ministre mauricien face à cette hausse du prix à la pompe.
“Fact-check” produit par Elizabeth Henri-Héloïse
Sous la supervision de Christina Chan-Meetoo
Dans le cadre du module “Investigative and Data-Driven Journalism”
During the month of March 2021, L’express, a media organisation in Mauritius, published an interview with a Mauritian cardiologist entitled: Dr Sunil Gunness: “A dose of one vaccine and a booster of a different one can even be better than two doses of the same vaccine.” (See below the headline of the article by L’Express and the claim)
Why is it misleading/risky to use this as a headline?
First and foremost, during this interview, Doctor Sunil Gunness simply answered the question of the journalist by stating his personal opinion/advice. With the use of words like, “I don’t think” and “it seems”, it is obvious that his claim was not factual, he was uncertain about his claim, and the result of the research of Oxford University might contradict this. Further, with a lot of controversy cropping up worldwide, people are hesitant and indecisive of whether to be vaccinated or not. Thus, with much restlessness, they are fervently following every news piece (developments) related to COVID-19 vaccination, and this is the case for Mauritian people as well. Hence, with such a headline, it can easily mislead the Mauritian population (they might not read the full article and quickly jump to a conclusion). With the availability of WhatsApp and other social media sites, this news piece could go viral, causing people to make different assumptions and believing that the statement is true, when it is not the case, as the results of the study were not yet posted at that time. To sum up, it is only an interview – with the doctor expressing his opinions – and the statement was not yet scientifically proven.
Is it good to share such a claim with the public?
The cardiologist said that the University of Oxford has recently embarked on the study mentioned above. The University announced this on 4th February 2021. However, the results were published on 28th June 2021 on the website of University of Oxford, and it does support the claim (Mixed Oxford/Pfizer vaccine schedules generate robust immune response against COVID-19, finds Oxford-led study), but at the time Doctor Sunil Gunness made this claim, the results were not yet published, meaning that there was no proof or scientific data to support his statement. It is crucial for health professionals, authorities, or news organizations to check any claims or health related information before communicating these to the public, as this can severely mislead the population, possibly resulting in unwanted repercussions.
Is the mixture of two COVID-19 vaccines recommended by The World Health Organisation (WHO)?
According to Reuters World, The World Health Organisation warns individuals against mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines. The following is a tweet by a chief scientist at WHO, Dr Soumya Swaminathan.
One can assume that an infectious specialist’s claim is more reliable than that of a cardiologist’s claim in matters concerned with vaccines.
It must also be noted that Doctor Sunil Gunness did not mention about which combination of vaccines are practicable, again creating doubts in the minds of the Mauritians. The vaccines approved for use in Mauritius are Gamaleya Sputnik V, Gamaleya Sputnik Light, Oxford/Astrazeneca, Bharat Biotech Covaxin, and Sinopharm (Source: COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker). It should be noted that it is the mixing of the Oxford–AstraZeneca jab and the Pfizer–BioNTech that is being tested in the Oxford University study and that the Pfizer vaccine is not yet available in Mauritius.
An article in Nature which reports about the study also cites another study conducted by Saarland University in Homburg, Germany and states that, despite optimism about the possibility of mixing vaccines, “the trials so far have been too small to test how effective combinations of vaccines are at preventing people from developing COVID-19. Martina Sester, the immunologist who led the study, declared: “As long as you don’t have any long-term or any follow-up studies with efficacy calculations, it’s hard to say the level or duration of protection.”
The news organisation used this particular claim of Dr Sunil Gunness as a headline, but it was only an opinion of the latter about a possibility at the moment the article was published. With reference to other questions in the interview, it can be seen that he believes that the WHO’s approval is necessary. He simply stated his personal opinion, and has the right to do so. However, the news organisation should have been more careful, because vaccination topic is a sensitive one in these times. For L’express to use this section of his interview as a headline is not totally responsible, due to the reasons mentioned previously. An example of a preferred title could be: The mixture of COVID-19 vaccines may be feasible but extensive research needed. In such a way, the Mauritian audience would take the time to read the article to discover if this is a fact-checked statement or just an opinion.
(“Saignements menstruels post-vaccination : Une vraie pharmacovigilance peut sauver des vies”) published by Mauritius Times
Does Covid vaccination have an impact on menstrual bleeding and does it endanger women’s lives?
On the 9th of July, Mauritius Times published an article in which it is mentioned that studies have shown that abnormal menstrual bleeding following vaccination can be life-threatening for women and yet, they are trivialized by medical authorities. According to the article, this demonstrates the importance of pharmacovigilance with a human face, with real medical monitoring of vaccinated people.
Catherine Boudet, the author of the article is a political analyst specialized in Mauritian democracy. She is regularly invited by the Mauritian media to provide her analyses on Mauritian politics. Unfortunately, the article that she has written in the Mauritius Times does not contain factual information. The very first line of the article is a proof that whatever she is saying is not a fact.
« Les témoignages se multiplient : des femmes se plaignant de douleurs au ventre, de retards de leurs menstruations et de saignements anormaux suite à la vaccination anti-covid. A tel point que la presse s’est fait écho de ces cris d’alerte. » Which can be translated as :
“The testimonies are multiplying: women complaining of stomach pains, delayed menstruation and abnormal bleeding following the anti-covid vaccination such that the press had to put forward this “cry of alarm”.
But where is the “cry of alarm”?
Piece of article to be fact-checked:
“Studies have shown that abnormal menstrual bleeding post vaccination can be life threatening for women “.
This claim by Catherine Boudet is not totally true. It is a fact that an individual can have side effects post-vaccination which are fever, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, nausea, sore throat, diarrhea, and vomiting and nowhere it is mentioned that the vaccine is life-threatening for women.
Catherine Boudet has also cited the statements given by Doctor Catherine Gaud, epidemiologist and Senior Adviser on Public Health Matters, using subtle formulations which clearly seek to undermine the latter’s credibility. We feel like she is trying to prove Dr Catherine Gaud wrong despite the fact that she herself is not a doctor and is not medically qualified. For example, she writes:
“… elle allait même jusqu’à déclarer…” [which can be translated as: “… she even went so far as to state …”]
“Se montrant même catégorique …” [which can be translated as: “She even went so far as to be categorical…]
It should be noted that one of the statements by Dr Catherine Gaud which was published in L’express of the 9th June 2021, an article mentioned here, is as follows:
Dr Catherine Gaud, adviser to the Ministry of Health affirms: “Even if we trained doctors when they are administered Covaxin, they spoke a lot about their reservations to their patients, whereas at present, the vaccine does nothing to women who wish to get pregnant in the future”. (Our translation).
To be noted that even in an article from the BBC, it has been mentioned that vaccination does not really affect the menstrual cycle: “During the consultation about the Covid vaccine, you will likely be warned of possible side effects like fever, headache, and sore arm for a day or two after the vaccination. However, menstrual cycle changes are not in the list.“
The World Health Organization on its website answered a few questions related to the COVID vaccine in which one question is about the side effects that women may have after the jab.
Below is a screenshot of the answer concerning the side effects about Covid vaccine for women from WHO.
The claim that the “vaccine is life-threatening for women” is very misleading especially when it is stated just on the first line of the article. Many Mauritians are still in a dilemma of whether they should get vaccinated or not, and when such an article is published, it is obvious that this will create more fear in an individual’s mind which is not correct. Somehow by using words like “danger”,“cry of alarm”, Catherine Boudet is misleading people by making them think that vaccination is not something that we can rely on and women doing it may die. This is quite a powerful statement as this has not been proven yet. Of course, some may have some side effects but to go to the extent of “dying” is quite exaggerated. Or maybe, she made use of wrong words by trying to explain the side effects of vaccines on women. It is surprising to see that a woman who usually comes forward with very precise information and powerful and pertinent views about certain subjects made a statement like this without getting more involved in the research part.
Catherine Boudet is considered to have a very good reputation as political analyst.
Below are two links to her articles and debates on politics which have nothing much to do with the related subject about the Covid pandemic. They have been taken as references to put forward how she is usually pertinent on politics and this is why it is weird how she came up with such an article about Covid vaccines.
Hamid Merchant’s rapid response is used as only reference
More importantly, in the article of the Mauritius Times, the author says that the British Medical Journal published an article entitled “CoViD-19 post-vaccine menorrhagia, metrorrhagia or postmenopausal bleeding and potential risk of vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia in women” written by Hamid Merchant. Below a screenshot of the paragraph can be found.
This can be translated as:
“Yet, international specialist medical publications are sounding the alarm about post-vaccination menstrual bleeding. In particular the British Medical Journal which published on April 18, a pharmacy researcher’s article entitled ‘Covid-19 post-vaccine menorrhagia, metrorrhagia or postmenopausal bleeding and potential risk of vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia in women’.
Its author, Hamid Merchant, of the English University of Huddersfield, specifies that many women around the world have complained of menstrual disturbances and even vaginal bleeding after receiving a vaccine against Covid-19. “Some experience heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), others bleeding before their periods or frequent bleeding (metrorrhagia / polymenorrhea), while still others have complained of postmenopausal bleeding,” the author continues.”
While it is true that Hamid Merchant wrote this, the article is not really an article which we can refer to put forward analysis, but rather a rapid response to an actual research article entitled “Thrombosis after covid-19 vaccination” by Paul R Hunter, a Professor in Medicine in the UK. Below you can find the rapid response of Hamid Merchant which has erroneously been presented as a proper research article by Catherine Boudet.
We see that Catherine Boudet made an error when referencing her sources. She cited a rapid response, instead of the original article. A rapid response is not the same as an original research article; the claims are not of the same importance. A research article in a research journal is generally peer-reviewed to check for validity of the paper presented. But, in her article, Catherine Boudet continues to emphasize on what Hamid Merchant said, as if he is the only person that can give the best opinions on this subject.
Admittedly, Hamid Merchant is a Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutics but he did not state that he had conducted any study on the subject when he wrote his rapid response. Conversely, Paul R. Hunter is a Professor in Medicine. The UK’s National Institute for Health Research states that he “was the first professor of health protection to be appointed in the UK and is a specialist in Medical Microbiology. He works on outbreak response, emerging infectious diseases and infection in complex emergencies.”
Below you can find the original article by Paul R Hunter published in the British Medical Journal, on 14th April, which Catherine Boudet should have used for her article in the Mauritian Times.
The research article clearly stated that there were rare cases of thrombosis post-vaccination but that these “rare events should not derail vaccination efforts”.
At the end if we take consideration a lot of the factors analysed above, it can be seen that:
The author of the article, Catherine Boudet, gave us the impression that she is referencing a lot of articles and other authors while she ended up taking only Hamid Merchant who only gave his opinion as a reader in reaction to a proper research article.
Her words were quite exaggerated, unnecessarily trying to create chaos and panic in the minds of individuals especially women. The menstrual phase for a woman is a very sensitive subject in itself and coming with such articles can create anxiety.
Catherine Boudet gave us the impression that Dr Catherine Gaud’s experiences and opinions do not count at all and that the latter is completely wrong in all the things that she said on this subject while Catherine Boudet herself took only Dr Hamid Merchant as reference rather than Prof Paul R. Hunter.
Le Dr. Marie Christine Piat, un médecin généraliste, affirme que la solution est l’Ivermectine mais cette affirmation n’est pas fondée. Il est donc dangereux et irresponsable de sa part de tenir de tels propos lors d’un entretien pour un journal grand public. En effet, notre analyse est basée sur trois essais cliniques notamment ceux du Chest Journal, du JAMA Network et de l’Université des Sciences Médicales de Qazvin, qui indique qu’il est dangereux d’utiliser ce médicament non-approuvé par l’OMS.
Non à l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine contre le nouveau Coronavirus sans données solides!
Cette période de pandémie a vu circuler beacoup de fausses nouvelles, de mythes, toutes sortes de remèdes de grands-mères, entre autres. Il faut cependant bien s’informer avant de prendre des médicaments, et il est surtout très important de prendre uniquement des médicaments qui ont été testés et approuvés, notamment par l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé.
Or, le médecin Marie Christine Piat qui exerce comme généraliste depuis 25 ans a expliqué, dans son interview, qu’elle soutient l’Ivermectine car, selon elle, ce médicament est : « efficace » et « safe ». Elle clame que « les études in vitro ont prouvé sans ambiguïté » son efficacité et son innocuité.
En ce qui concerne l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine pour traiter la Covid-19, l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé a publié le 31 mars 2021, un article pour informer le monde qu’elle recommande l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine uniquement pour les essais cliniques.
Dans son entretien avec Le Mauricien, le Dr. Piat minimise l’importance de l’OMS en disant que l’instance administrative et régulatrice ne travaille pas sur le terrain. L’ironie est que le Dr. Piat n’est qu’une généraliste et non pas une spécialiste en maladies respiratoires.
Il n’y a pas que l’OMS qui avertit sur l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine en dehors du cadre de recherches cliniques. La FDA (U.S Food & Drug Administration), organisme qui régule les médicaments aux États-Unis, a aussi clairement averti contre l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine pour traiter le Covid-19. Cette agence rappelle que la molécule est surtout utilisée chez les animaux et l’utilisation non-approuvée peut avoir des conséquences dangereuses chez les humains. Cette déclaration est donc en opposition avec ce qu’a dit le Dr. Piat.
L’Agence Européenne des Médicaments met également en garde contre l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine en dehors des essais cliniques en faisant les mêmes rappels que l’OMS et la FDA.
L’entreprise biopharmaceutique Merck a publié une déclaration en ligne le 04 février 2021 pour affirmer qu’il n’y a aucune base scientifique jusqu’ici pour prouver l’efficacité de l’Ivermectine contre la Covid-19.
Quand le Dr Piat mélange les termes “in vivo” et “in vitro“
Les déclarations publiées par les différentes instances mentionnées nous passent un message commun : il n’y a aucune confirmation que l’Ivermectine soit efficace contre la Covid-19. Cela réfute donc les propos du Dr. Marie Christine Piat qui semble rassurer la population mauricienne que de nombreuses études ont prouvé que l’utilisation d’un médicament non-approuvé est efficace et « safe ».
Dr. Marie Christine Piat, explique son point de vue sur l’efficacité de l’Ivermectine comme un “outil supplémentaire”. Elle base son argument sur le fait que la Grande Péninsule a autorisé dans ses quatre États, l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine et elle ajoute également, que grâce à cette décision, il y a eu un déclin dans le taux de mortalité. Or, rien ne le prouve. À ce sujet, le journal français Ouest-France a publié en juin 2021 un article sur l’Ivermectine dont le titre relie le médicament avec le mot “controversé“.
Les conséquences de l’auto-administration de l’Ivermectine
Julie Weber, la Présidente de l’American Association of Poison Control Centers qui est aussi la directrice de la Missouri Poison Center, a expliqué qu’il y a une confusion entre l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine pour les animaux et pour les humains. Malheureusement, beaucoup de personnes ont décidé ne pas se renseigner et ils se sont donc auto-administrés une dose d’Ivermectine prescrite pour les chevaux. Cette dose est définitivement beaucoup trop grande. Conséquence: les centres américains antipoison et de la toxicovigilance accueillent donc un grand nombre de personnes avec environ 40 à 50 appels additionnels chaque jour.
Il est important de bien informer le public et de bien s’informer avant de proposer une solution. Par exemple, le Dr. Joshua Nogar du Northwell Health indique que certains ont consommé du détergent, du désinfectant pour les mains, de l’eau de Javel entre autres, pour essayer de tuer le virus dû à un manque d’information, voire à une désinformation délibérée.
En Afrique du Sud, les citoyens demandaient au gouvernement de légaliser l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine Dans la région de Pietermaritzburg, deux personnes se sont retrouvées aux soins intensifs après avoir pris une overdose d’Ivermectine.
Dans un article publié par la BBC News, le Professeur Abdool Karim, un médecin sud-africain, a expliqué que la dose d’Ivermectine recommandée pour lutter contre la Covid-19 chez les humains peut être toxique. Le Professeur Rietze Rodseth, spécialiste des soins intensifs en Afrique du Sud, a aussi affirmé que la qualité des résultats des études réalisées pour déterminer l’efficacité de l’Ivermectine n’est toujours pas rassurante.
Dosage d’Ivermectine chez les humains
En effet, comme le suggèrent des études en pharmacocinétique et pharmacodynamique, la dose requise pour atteindre la concentration de plasma nécessaire pour avoir l’efficacité antivirale contre la Covid-19 détectée in vitro serait plus de 100 fois supérieure à celle approuvée sur les humains (Chaccour, Carlos et al., 2021) & (Guzzo, Cynthia A et al., 2002).
200 ug/kg (200 micrograms (mcg) per kilogram (kg) (91 mcg per pound) of body weight as a single dose. L’équivalent d’une concentration (Cmax) de 0.05 µM.
L’équivalent d’une concentration de 5 µM.
Tableau No.1: Dose d’Ivermectine recommandée chez l’homme
Dans son étude, Guzzo, Cynthia A et al. rapporte que même l’essai clinique sur l’homme avec la plus forte dose d’Ivermectin, approximativement 1700 ug/kg, avait généré une concentration maximum en plasma de 0.28μM.
Qui plus est, l’Ivermectin sous forme orale est seulement accessible sur le marché en pilules de 3 ou 4 mg, donc cela comprend un risque pour les gens qui essaieraient de s’auto-administrer des doses de cette substance car ils pourraient avoir recours à des formules plus concentrées, pouvant causer du surdosage.
Un document sur l’Ivermectin datant de 1992 de l’INCHEM (International Programme on Chemical Safety), agence spécialisée dans la gestion des substances chimiques, précise que le surdosage d’Ivermectin peut être associé à divers effets secondaires. La substance pourrait causer de la tachycardie, des fluctuations de la pression artérielle, des effets sur le SNC (somnolence, ataxie), des vomissements ainsi que des perturbations visuelles.
En outre, le site en ligne MedlinePlus, site spécialisé informations concernant la santé, ajoute que l’exposition à cette substance peut causer encore plus d’effets secondaires tels que la perte d’appétit, des brûlures d’estomac, de la diarrhée ou de la constipation et des tremblements.
Le site officiel du National Institute of Health du Royaume Uni précise aussi dans des Covid-19 Treatment Guidelines qu’il n’y a pas assez d’information du COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel tirer des conclusions claires sur l’utilisation de l’Ivermectin comme traitement pour la Covid-19. Des recherches pouvant produire des résultats prouvés et plus spécifiques sont requises pour pouvoir donner un verdict sur le rôle de l’Ivermectin contre la Covid-19.
Les études liées à l’Ivermectine: des résultats peu probants
La Société Française de Pharmacologie et de Thérapeutique (SFPT), définit l’Ivermectine comme un médicament antiparasitaire. La SFPT donne différentes raisons pour montrer que ce médicament n’est pas infaillible et peut même être inutile. “À l’heure actuelle, aucune donnée ne permet de recommander l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine pour prévenir ou traiter une infection au SARS-CoV-2. De plus, il n’existe aucune donnée concernant la sécurité de son utilisation dans cette indication“, précise la SFPT.
Une étude, par le “Chest Journal” nous parle de l’efficacité de l’Ivermectine pour le traitement des patients positifs au Covid-19 comparée à ceux qui n’ont pas été administrés le même traitement.
Sur deux cent quatre-vingts (280) patients, uniquement cent-soixante-treize (173) ont pris l’Ivermectine. Le résultat de l’observation : le taux de mortalité était plus élevé chez les patients traités sans Ivermectine (25%) comparé à ceux qui ont reçu des doses d’Ivermectine (15%). Les chercheurs précisent, dans leur conclusion, que des essais randomisés contrôlés, sont nécessaires pour valider leurs conclusions.
Nombre de Patients
Taux de Mortalité
Nombre de patients traités avec l’ivermectine
Nombre de patients traités sans l’ivermectine
Tableau No. 2: Résultat de l’observation
2. JAMA NETWORK
En mars 2021, le JAMA Network a publié les résultats d’un essai clinique randomisé qui ne soutiennent pas l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine pour traiter le Covid-19. Voici plus de détails :
Cali, en Colombie
Essai randomisé en double aveugle
NOMBRE DE PATIENTS
ÉTAT DE SANTE DES PATIENTS
Positive à la Covid-19 et symptomatique pendant 7 jours ou moins
300 microgrammes chaque jour pendant 5 jours
Tableau No.3: Détails de l’essai clinique randomisé publié par le JAMA Network
Pendant cet essai, il y avait un suivi des patients pendant 21 jours. Certains patients ont signalé des symptômes indésirables tels que la céphalée (104 patients) et une défaillance multiviscérale (4 patients). Le JAMA Network laisse savoir que les résultats ne soutiennent pas l’utilisation de l’Ivermectine et recommande des études plus approfondies pour confirmer les effets de ce médicament sur les patients positifs à la covid-19.
Hydroxycloroquine: 200mg deux fois par jour Ivermectine: une dose unique de 400g/kg trois doses à faible intervalle – 200, 200. 200 g/kg trois doses à intervalle élevé – 400, 200, 200 g/kg
Tableau No.4: Détails concernant l’essai clinique par L’Université des Sciences Médicales de Qazvin
Durant cet essai, 5 sur 30 patients recevant 200mg d’hydroxychloroquine deux fois par jour sont décédés et 6 sur 30 patients recevant un placebo ainsi que 200mg d’hydroxychloroquine deux fois par jour sont décédés. Quant à l’Ivermectine, le taux de mortalité a baissé d’environ 15% et a réduit également la durée d’hospitalisation des patients. Les chercheurs précisent cependant que l’échantillon est limité et que des études élargies sont nécessaires.
Conclusion: Non à l’Ivermectine pour lutter contre la Covid-19 sans plus de recherche solide
Dans l’article pour Le Mauricien, le Dr. Marie Christine Piat propose l’Ivermectine comme une solution miracle mais il n’y a aucune confirmation existante concernant l’éfficacité de l’Ivermectine pour traiter la Covid-19. En effet, il y a beaucoup plus de risques que de bienfaits et la molécule n’est toujours pas approuvée par l’OMS. Avant d’adopter ce médicament, il faudrait d’abord des études plus approfondies ainsi que le feu vert de la part des instances régulatrices de la Santé car la sécurité de tout un chacun est primordiale.
Nous pouvons donc en conclure que les propos du Dr. Marie Christine Piat sont inexacts.
Par Emilie Spéville-Hortense, Michaëlla Ber et Florian Philippe
Article de fact-checking publié dans le cadre du module Digital Journalism de l’Université de Maurice
“Nous ne pouvons demander que le vaccin soit obligatoire.” C’est ce que le ministre mauricien de la Santé et du bien-être, le Dr Kailesh Jagutpal a déclaré à la presse le 22 décembre 2020.
C’était après sa participation au lancement d’un atelier de travail organisé conjointement avec l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé. Le Dr Jagutpal a continué sa déclaration en disant que “c’est une protection qui va produire des anticorps pour votre bien-être. Quand nous allons commencer à le faire (ndlr, la vaccination), il y aura certaines personnes qui ne voudront pas le faire. Nous devons l’accepter. Notre objectif est de donner le vaccin.” À ces propos s’ajoutent ceux que le ministre fera un peu plus de 3 mois après, en affirmant qu’à “aucun moment le gouvernement n’a pris la décision de rendre la vaccination obligatoire.” Il répondait à une question de la presse pendant la conférence de presse du National Communication Committee, le 10 avril 2021.
Ces règlements visent à permettre l’entrée qu’aux personnes ayant au moins une dose de vaccin contre la Covid-19 dans les écoles, les hôpitaux et autres centres de santé. Dans le cas où une personne n’a pas été vaccinée contre la Covid-19, elle devra présenter une attestation de test RT-PCR certifiant un résultat négatif datant de moins de 7 jours. Quiconque ayant plus de 18 ans qui n’a pas été vacciné (ou qui ne présente pas de test PCR négatif datant de moins de 7 jours) et se trouve dans un établissement spécifié encourt une amende ne dépassant pas Rs 500,000 et jusqu’à 5 ans d’emprisonnement.
Cette réglementation ne s’applique pas à une personne qui doit se soumettre à un traitement médical dans un établissement et de la personne qui l’accompagne, ou à celui ou celle qui doit se procurer des médicaments auprès de cette institution (hôpital, clinique, dispensaire, établissement de santé privé, centre de santé régional ou communautaire, cabinet médical ou cabinet dentaire). Le règlement ne s’applique pas non plus à une personne qui est en possession d’un certificat médical approuvé par deux médecins de l’État, attestant que, en raison de sa condition médicale, il ne peut recevoir un vaccin anti-Covid-19.
Pourquoi est-ce que ces nouveaux règlements rendent la déclaration du ministre de la Santé contradictoire ?
La loi ne stipule effectivement pas directement que la vaccination contre la Covid-19 est obligatoire. Cependant, les personnes de plus de 18 ans travaillant ou devant impérativement se rendre dans les institutions hospitalières (sauf pour les patients et la personne qui les accompagne) ou scolaires, sont obligées de présenter leurs cartes de vaccination pour y accéder. Cela pose tout d’abord un problème aux employés de ces établissements hospitalières et scolaires. La plupart ne pourront pas éviter la vaccination, au risque de perdre leurs emplois. Cela s’applique aussi pour les étudiants de plus de 18 ans, et si ces derniers ne sont pas présents en cours ou pour leurs examens, cela peut affecter grandement leur éducation et leur avenir.
Il est important de noter que tous les membres du gouvernement et des autorités liées sont restés prudents dans leurs discours entre le 10 avril 2021 et la date d’application de ces nouvelles lois. Ils ont fait très attention à ne pas utiliser de termes qui font allusion à une vaccination obligatoire. Lors de notre recherche, nous n’avons trouvé aucune déclaration publique de ce genre.
Une obstruction à l’obligation de respecter le droit universel à l’éducation ?
Toujours concernant le secteur éducatif, ces régulations peuvent aussi potentiellement brider l’un des droits fondamentaux de la Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l’Homme (1948) publiée par les Nations Unies. En effet, l’Observation générale No 13 sur le droit fondamental à l’éducation (Partie 47), qui a été approuvée par le Comité des droits économiques, sociaux et culturels, affirme que “l’obligation de respecter le droit à l’éducation requiert des États parties qu’ils évitent de prendre des mesures susceptibles d’en entraver ou d’en empêcher l’exercice. L’obligation de le protéger requiert des États parties qu’ils prennent des mesures pour empêcher des tiers de s’immiscer dans son exercice. L’obligation de faciliter l’exercice du droit à l’éducation requiert des États qu’ils prennent des mesures concrètes permettant aux particuliers et aux communautés de jouir du droit à l’éducation et les aidant à le faire.”
Certes, il n’y a pas de privation à l’éducation mais, il y a une difficulté supplémentaire, surtout pour les familles vulnérables.
Le test RT-PCR : est-ce vraiment un choix ?
Ceux qui ne souhaitent pas se faire vacciner peuvent présenter un test Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) négatif, ne datant pas de plus de 7 jours, aux établissements auxquels ils ou elles veulent avoir accès. A savoir que l’État ne subventionne pas ces tests, sauf pour les personnes qui ne peuvent se faire vacciner pour raison médicale et les personnes qui ont eu contact avec une personne positive à la Covid-19 – les autres doivent le payer dans des enseignes privées.
NovaLab – Rs 2 100 par test. Frais de déplacement de Rs 400 en optant pour le service à domicile.
Rs 3 500 – GeneXpert par test (résultat en 6 heures). Frais de déplacement de Rs 399 en optant pour le service à domicile.
C-Care – Rs 2 250 par test.
D’après une étude de Statistics Mauritius, le salaire moyen du Mauricien était d’environ Rs 21,500 en 2020. Sachant cela, il est difficile d’imaginer que le Mauricien moyen puisse prévoir un budget d’entre Rs 8,400 et Rs 14,000 par mois (en calculant le prix d’un test RT-PCR par semaine). Ce montant atteint déjà la moitié ou plus de son salaire mensuel, ce qui rend son choix pour se faire dépister une fois par semaine très difficile. Ce choix cornélien s’applique d’autant plus pour les étudiants de plus de 18 ans qui dépendent (pour la majorité) financièrement de leurs parents.
L’article 2 du formulaire de consentement
De plus, depuis le début de la campagne de vaccination à Maurice le 8 mars 2021, le Ministère de la Santé et du Bien-Être a mis en place un formulaire de consentement à remplir avant de se faire administrer le vaccin anti-Covid-19. “Jusqu’à présent, toutes les personnes recevant des vaccins anti-Covid-19 ont été invitées à signer des formulaires de consentement dédouanant le gouvernement, ce qui signifie que cela a été totalement volontaire,” déclara Milan Meetarbhan, un expert constitutionnel, dans un entretien à L’Express, le 2 juin 2021. Effectivement, il est écrit noir sur blanc dans la section 2 du formulaire que la personne qui sera vaccinée et dont le nom y figure “demande” que le vaccin lui soit administré et qu’elle donne son autorisation.
Selon Meetarbhan, le problème que le gouvernement aurait, s’il est sujet à des poursuites judiciaires, c’est d’expliquer comment il crée deux catégories de personnes: celles qui ont volontairement signé des formulaires de consentement pour se faire vacciner et renoncé à tous droits de réclamations contre le gouvernement; et les catégories de travailleurs qui ont été obligés de se faire vacciner pour conserver leur emploi.
Les actions et le discours du gouvernement font planer un doute sur sa position concernant la vaccination. Depuis l’entretien du ministre Jagutpal du 22 décembre 2020 avec la presse, le gouvernement affirme toujours que le vaccin n’est pas obligatoire. Il n’y a certainement pas d’obligation directe. Ladite déclaration n’est donc pas fausse en ce sens.
Mais, l’ambiguïté survient quand on analyse les “choix” qu’ont les citoyens mauriciens face aux nouvelles régulations mises en place. Est-ce que la vaccination ne devient pas obligatoire lorsque les autres options sont hors de portée pour la majorité des Mauriciens ? Certains peuvent argumenter que c’est le cas. Surtout quand les seuls choix à leur disposition sont de se faire vacciner ou de payer entre Rs 2,100 à Rs 3,900 par semaine, au risque de mettre en péril leur situation professionnelle. Pourquoi l’État ne subventionne-t-il pas le test RT-PCR pour ceux qui le souhaitent ? Cela aurait permis à cette alternative d’être plus accessible – même si, par exemple, la subvention n’aurait été que pour les personnes dans le besoin, comme celles enregistrées à la Sécurité Sociale. Le coût total est probablement l’une des principales raisons, quand bien même ce serait une subvention partielle. On peut aussi se demander si les Mauriciens auraient été prêts à accepter une augmentation des taxes pour financer cette aide.
Si nous nous basons donc sur ces arguments, nous ne pouvons pas clairement dire que ce qu’a dit le Dr Kailesh Jagutpal est faux. Néanmoins, nous pouvons considérer qu’il y a une vaccination quasi-obligatoire indirecte pour certaines personnes.
Fact-checking article published as part of an assignment for the Digital Journalism module at the University of Mauritius
Covid-19 is present in this digital era since two years now and it is still the talk of the world. The article which has been chosen for fact-checking is one by lexpress.mu entitled “Crise mondiale: le Covid-19 fait-il plus de peur que de mal?” which includes the interview of Dr Marie-Christine Piat, who has been working as a general practitioner in Mauritius since 25 years.
The latter made several claims during the interview which grabbed our attention while reading as they seemed to be quite dubious. The claims were as follows:
“Covid 19 virus resembles the flu while both of them infect the respiratory tract, and contaminate human beings through aerosols and the emission of droplets while talking, coughing, and sneezing.”
“It is both damaging and detrimental to deprive oneself of proven alternatives. One of them: Ivermectinknown for 40 years for its anti parasitic properties and distributed at more than 4 billion doses since its origin, has shown efficacy in prevention and curative for SARS-Cov-2.”
“Despite this, some 20 countries have ignored their recommendations given the growing evidence.Their decisions were followed by significant, even spectacular, results. We remember for example: Mexico, Peru, Argentina, India, Bangladesh..”
“Many recent meta-analysis put forward that Ivermectin clearly reduces the risk of Covid-19 related deaths.”
The first claim made by Dr Piat which was fact checked is:
What about the major differences?
According to the CDC Covid-19 and the flu have more differences than similarities.
A research from nih.gov below contradicts the claim of Dr Piat revealing that the Coronavirus and the flu are not the same.
Additionally the death rate relating to covid-19 and the flu are very different from each other. They put forward that children are more at risk to the influenza than the Coronavirus. The image below depicts the difference between the mortality rate:
The OSF HEALTHCARE website publishes the fact that there are major differences between the flu and covid-19. Here are the those differences:
Mayoclinic also elaborates on the fact that the COVID-19 virus seems to be more contagious, proving that the claim of Dr Piat is wrong and that the two are more different than congruent.
Indeed the WHO states that the influenza and Covid-19 are different as they are actually caused by different viruses. Here is what WHO published:
Covid-19 and the flu, according to many researchers and doctors are actually two different things because the basis themselves are different. That is, the two of them are caused by two non-identical viruses. Therefore, it can be seen that Dr Christine Piat, who is a general practitioner, has not been stating facts as the Coronavirus and the influenza are very dissimilar.
Is Ivermectin the good alternative?
Translated: It is both damaging and detrimental to deprive oneself of proven alternatives. One of them: Ivermectin known for 40 years for its anti parasitic properties and distributed at more than 4 billion doses since its origin, has shown efficacy in prevention and curative for SARS-Cov-2. (Claim 2)
It is undeniable that Covid-19 has disrupted each and every aspect of the world: health, education, sports, religious activities and so on. To protect us against this invisible enemy, we should take the precautions needed. However, this does not mean that we should take any medical substances to protect ourselves. Sometimes what we think is appropriate as medicine is not necessarily the truth, and might end up as harmful to our health. So, we must think well! For instance, according to an interview conducted by lexpress.mu, Dr Piat affirmed that Ivermectin is one of the alternatives which can be “safely” used to prevent the infection of Covid-19. She firmly stated that this anti-parasite medication has proven its efficacy. In fact, many countries are wondering whether Ivermectin should be used or not, but let’s see what medical sources indicate to us.
The US Food and Drug Administration has warned people against the use of Ivermectin. This is because this substance was mainly produced for animals to prevent heartworm diseases and parasites and hence may be harmful for human beings. Human and animal medicines are different. “Animal drugs are often highly concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which can weigh a lot more than we do—a ton or more. Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans.” FDA clearly stated that Ivermectin is not an anti-viral.
Moreover, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has mentioned that the use of Ivermectin against Covid-19 is only used in clinical trials. They have not given any approval for the use of this drug to treat the coronavirus. This information is provided on the website of the WHO and here is the link:
Despite knowing that Ivermectin is made for animals, there are many countries across the globe which have decided to carry on with the doses of Ivermectin to treat Covid-19. However, according to WHO:
“A guideline development group was convened in response to the increased international attention on ivermectin as a potential treatment for COVID-19. This group is an independent, international panel of experts, which includes clinical care experts in multiple specialties and also include an ethicist and patient-partners.”
In addition, during the interview, Dr Piat also asserted that many countries have borne the sweet fruits of their decisions. Below is the extract from the lexpress.mu article.
Translated: Despite this, some 20 countries have ignored their recommendations given the growing evidence. Their decisions were followed by significant, even spectacular, results. We remember for example: Mexico, Peru, Argentina, India, Bangladesh.. (Claim 3)
Based on a scholarly article published in the Taylor and Francis Online Journal:
“The available pharmacokinetic data for ivermectin indicate that at the doses routinely used for the management of parasitic diseases the SARS-CoV-2 inhibitory concentrations are practically not attainable. At present any empiric treatment with ivermectin or its inclusion in therapeutic protocols are not scientifically justifiable. The very consideration of the drug as a broad spectrum antiviral agent is incorrect because it has failed to demonstrate antiviral effects beyond the in vitro level. Pending the paucity of reliable data from controlled studies and the aforementioned pharmacokinetic considerations, the application of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients is to be decisively discouraged.” (click here)
In Argentina, research put forward that patients needed a high number of Ivermectin doses in order for it to be effective against the coronavirus.
“India experienced a decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in May 2021. However, no data is available to support the claim that this is causally associated with the recommendation to use ivermectin. The reduced spread of the disease began before India released official recommendations to use that drug. In spite of several clinical studies, no reliable evidence is available to suggest that hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin are effective against COVID-19. At the moment, international health agencies and scientific societies discourage using these drugs to treat COVID-19, except in clinical trials designed to assess their efficacy.”
Furthermore, even in Mexico, there is no accurate evidence to show that Ivermectin is effective. There are many online articles which have been posted without verification which purport that Ivermectin is effective to treat covid-19 patients. The lack of clear evidence contradicts the claim of Dr Piat who affirmed that Mexico recognised the effectiveness of Ivermectin.
IsIvermectin actually decreasing death rates related to Covid-19?
In addition, while she talks about Ivermectine, Dr Christine Piat says that :
TRANSLATION: Many recent meta-analysis put forward that Ivermectin clearly reduces the risk of Covid related deaths.
She affirms that several research have suggested that Ivermectin clearly reduces the risk of Covid related deaths. But, ISGlobal published the facts and figures opposing this claim. They put forward that the data provided is not correct.
The ‘full fact’ website confirms that the Ivermectin being the cause of less death was the talk of countries since some time. Yet, they question the claim and also give clear specification about why the claim could not be believed.
The claim of Dr Piat, that research shows a decline in death rate through the use of Ivermectin may be partially true insofar as there are limited studies giving such conclusions. But the claim about the lowered rate of death which emerged from meta analysis according to her is not actually a reliable one.
The claims made by Dr Piat were mostly exaggerated. Of course, she might have used many articles but it would be rather better if she referred to more reliable medical articles, researches and journals. Below are the claims that she made and what we found when we did a deep research:
The first claim was so: “Covid 19 virus resembles the flu while both of them infect the respiratory tract, and contaminate human beings through aerosols and the emission of droplets while talking, coughing, and sneezing.” When this claim was deeply analysed and researched, journals and research works did not tally with the words of the doctor.
2. Secondly, she claimed that “It is both damaging and detrimental to deprive oneself of proven alternatives. One of them: Ivermectin known for 40 years for its anti parasitic properties and distributed at more than 4 billion doses since its origin, has shown efficacy in prevention and curative for SARS-Cov-2.” However, when we fact checked if Ivermectin is effective against Covid-19, it was found that no concrete evidence was available. There were few studies and surveys which were conducted with limited number of people. Hence, medical researchers could not clearly and unequivocally conclude if Ivermectin really works against getting infected from the deadly virus. This denotes that the claim was overemphasized to inject a misconception in the mind of citizens.
3. “Despite this, some 20 countries have ignored their recommendations given the growing evidence. Their decisions were followed by significant, even spectacular, results. We remember for example: Mexico, Peru, Argentina, India, Bangladesh..“, this was the third claim of Dr Piat. When conducting our research, it was noted that the infodemic also plays a role in the point of views of people. Just because it was posted that Ivermectin was effective, many people believed it. Yet, this was not the case as no concrete evidence was found again. We can see that this claim was also made without good profound research.
4. Finally the third claim is : “Many recent meta-analysis put forward that Ivermectin clearly reduces the risk of Covid related deaths.” Many people believed the posts that claimed this without concrete evidence. In fact, it is now clearer that Ivermectin is not really behind the lower rate of death related to Covid- 19.
Hence, on conclusion, we can say that not being an epidemiologist might have explained the fact that Dr Piat did not respond accurately. Rather she was more simplistic in her approach, which is surprising for a scientist. Indeed, the input of the doctor could have been quite insightful if she had merely talked about ongoing studies and been honest about the status of the research. Unfortunately, she simply was not in line with current research evidence.