FALSE: COVID-19 is not airborne and there’s no cure

Image from WhatsApp

Hoaxes about COVID-19 continue to circulate and thrive on social media with the latest being false claims that the virus is airborne and that a cure has been discovered.

WhatsApp especially has become a hotbed of disinformation around COVID-19 and many of the hoaxes that have virally circulated in other parts of the world have infiltrated Namibian social media as well. The following are two hoaxes that have made the rounds recently on Namibian social media.

COVID-19 is airborne

The following image has been circulating among Namibian WhatsApp groups, pushing two false claims – that COVID-19 is airborne and that it remains in the air for eight (8) hours:

The hoax follows this news report from 16 March 2020, which states:

“WHO is considering “airborne precautions” for medical staff after a new study showed the coronavirus can survive in the air in some settings.”

– cnbc.com

Since then the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been at pains to clarify that the coronavirus is NOT airborne, such as in this video clip on Twitter on 23 March 2020:

And again with this online statement on 28 March 2020:

For an explanation of what constitutes airborne transmission, as well as other modes of transmission, see here.

As for the claim that COVID-19 can remain in the air for eight (8) hours, another news article published on 18 March 2020 states:

“Researchers found the virus was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper and up to 24 hours on cardboard.”

– cnbc.com

This article, and many others, cite a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on 17 March 2020.

Given this evidence, Namibia Fact Check rates these claims – that COVID-19 is airborne and that it remains in the air for eight (8) hours – as FALSE.

There is a vaccine for COVID-19

This particular hoax has been spread around as the following image:

This hoax claims that “Roche Medical Company will launch a vaccine next Sunday”, with an image of what is claimed to be the “Roche Medical Company” vaccine.

However, the image is of a COVID-19 test kit by South Korean company Sugentech Inc, a description of which can be found here.

As for the the Roche connection, the false claim appears to refer to a Roche Diagnostics announcement on 13 March 2020, that it had gained approval from the US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its cobas SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) test. Roche DID NOT develop a vaccine.

There is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19.


Based on the evidence and/or best available data / information the statements or claims assessed in this article are false.

28th March 2020

Frederico Links

Frederico Links is the editor and lead researcher of Namibia Fact Check and a research associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)