Fact check: COVID-19 vaccines will not make people test positive for the disease

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A 56-minute video in which a doctor claims to tell “the truth about CV19 vaccine” contains various misleading claims, including that vaccines will make people test positive for COVID-19, thereby artificially increasing the number of new cases; that the disease was renamed as part of a cover-up; and that there are proven effective treatments for COVID-19 that the media is ignoring. There are numerous other claims in the video that are outside the scope of this fact check.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The video features a speech by Dr Simone Gold at an event called “The Stand,” which describes itself as a series of “Open Air Mass Healing & Miracle Services.” Gold is the founder of America’s Frontline Doctors (here), an organisation that has previously been criticised for sharing misinformation (USA Today: here and here, AP: here, BBC: www.bbc.com/news/53559938, Politifact: here). The American Academy of Family Physicians has described the organisation’s claims as “outrageous” and said that it was “in no way affiliated with this group” (here).

America’s Frontline Doctors and Simone Gold did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.


In the video (here timestamp 32.00), Gold says: “You may have started to see some news stories now: people taking the vaccine and now they’re testing positive for COVID-19. It’s kind of funny. Are they going to test positive forever, like, what does that mean? You know, they’ve been selling us this bill of goods that there’s this asymptomatic transmission, and that seems to be moot. But If you’re going to have tens or hundreds of millions running around, just kind of positive low-level, like, what does that mean? Like, why are we doing that? Another problem with doing that is, I think they’re going to game the numbers, right? All these people, let’s say you give this vaccine to a hundred million people, and now all hundred million people are ‘testing positive for COVID-19.’ They’re going to tell us that the cases have risen and, you know, we can never relax. It’s unbelievable.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and academic institutes say COVID-19 vaccines do not cause people to test positive on the tests used to measure the number of COVID-19 cases in the community (here and here).

A Moderna vaccine trial which gave RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 to asymptomatic participants before a second dose found that fewer people who had received one dose of the vaccine tested positive for the disease, compared with the control group (here). If everyone who received the vaccine became an asymptomatic carrier, this would have been detected in the trial and would have resulted in dramatically different results.


At another point in the video, Gold claims the name of COVID-19 was changed from “The Wuhan Virus” for political reasons. (here timestamp 3.19).

She said: “The disinformation was apparent since the beginning. We call this illness COVID-19, but its real name should be after the location from where it arose, which is Wuhan, China. And if you remember: It was called the Wuhan Virus for a while, I don’t know, a month or so. Before we discovered that the Chinese Communist Party didn’t like that name. They set about putting a lot of pressure on media and other — politicians, let’s say, to change it, and they started calling it the Coronavirus.”

The World Health Organization (WHO), which named the disease COVID-19 (here), has avoided the use of cities, countries, regions and continents in disease names in guidelines published since 2015 (here). Dr Keiji Fukuda, the WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security, said of the guidelines in an online statement released by the WHO in 2015: “We’ve seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities, create unjustified barriers to travel, commerce and trade, and trigger needless slaughtering of food animals.” (here). The WHO told Reuters by email that it had never referred to the illness as the “Wuhan virus”. Further details on its naming can be seen here .


Throughout the video, Gold also regularly endorses unproven treatments for COVID-19. At one point (here timestamp 1.38), she says: “The National Institute of Health right now has as its policy recommendation for patients with COVID-19, stating that unless you’re in the hospital requiring oxygen, there’s no actual treatment available for you. That is a complete falsehood, completely false. In most of the world, non-First World countries, there’s plenty of treatment easily available: Hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin. Here in America, if you can get a doctor to prescribe it, you get these medicines.”

The National Institute of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines can be seen here . Figure 1 on this page shows recommendations by the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel for patients with varying levels of disease severity. For those not hospitalized, it says: “There are insufficient data to recommend either for or against any specific antiviral or antibody therapy”. For patients hospitalized but not requiring supplemental oxygen, it says: “There are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the routine use of remdesivir. For patients at high risk of disease progression, the use of remdesivir may be appropriate.”

Reuters has already addressed claims about Ivermectin (here). While there are theoretical reasons (here) to believe that Ivermectin may treat COVID-19, and there have been some promising results (here and here), these papers advise that more studies are needed before it can be recommended as a treatment, or are based on incomplete trials (here). There are more ongoing trials that might prove or disprove the efficacy of Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 (here, here, here, here, here). Proof that it is effective as a treatment has not been published.

The National Institute of Health COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel has published a statement on the use of Ivermectin, stating that: “most of the studies reported to date had incomplete information and significant methodological limitations” and that “there are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19. Results from adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted clinical trials are needed” (here).

Gold praises Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment against COVID-19 numerous times, insisting that it is safe (timestamp 4.55), giving an anecdote about a patient who quickly recovered from COVID-19 on the treatment (timestamp 7.03), and ascribing low death rates from COVID-19 in sub-saharan Africa due to the drug being widely-available (timestamp 46.50).

She also tells the story (timestamp 20.50) of how the Lancet published a study that found Hydroxychloroquine wasn’t safe, leading to treatment being stopped and trials on the drug being halted, only for the paper to later be retracted. She repeatedly describes the publishing of the paper as “fraud” (timestamp 22.06).

Gold is correct in saying that the Lancet retracted an article on Hydroxychloroquine in June , 2020 (here), however trials for the drug continued and the Lancet later published papers which found that “no difference was seen in non-COVID-19 mortality associated with hydroxychloroquine use” (here) and that the drug had no “preventive effect” against the disease (here).

The National Institute of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines say: “Compared to placebo, hydroxychloroquine was associated with an increased risk of mostly mild adverse events” and recommend against its use (here).

Gold accuses the media of lying about the paper on Hydroxychloroquine, saying: “when it was retracted, they buried the story of it being retracted. You have to really struggle to find that information. That’s very dishonest.” (timestamp 22.32). The retraction of the Lancet article in June was extensively covered in the media. Stories on the retraction were published by Reuters (here), The New York Times (here and here Washington Post (here), Bloomberg (here) CNN (here here), Voice of America (here), The Economist (here) and The Guardian (here).


This long video contains various claims which are false or misleading, along with expressions of opinion which are not in the scope of this check.Vaccines against COVID-19 do not cause recipients to test positive for the disease. The World Health Organization named the disease COVID-19, did not refer to the “Wuhan virus” and has recommended against naming diseases after places since 2015. There is no proof that Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine are effective treatments against COVID-19.

Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

‘America’s Frontline Doctors’ Continue to Misinform on COVID

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On July 29, 2020, we reported that many members of America’s Frontline Doctors, a physician group that spread misinformation about the pandemic, had little to no experience treating COVID-19 patients. Here, we take a look at the messages that group has continued to spread during the pandemic.

A physician group that rampantly spread COVID-19 misinformation is back in the spotlight – but this time, sowing doubt about the vaccine.

America’s Frontline Doctors, an organization that claims to provide uncensored, accurate information about the pandemic, became infamous in July after a viral press conference that protested government lockdown restrictions and spread inaccuracies ranging from the ineffectiveness of masks to claims that hydroxychloroquine could “cure” COVID-19.

Now, those same doctors – the majority of which have no experience treating COVID-19 patients – have launched a campaign to warn Americans that they should not be forced to take an “experimental vaccine,” while failing to mention the safety trials and large phase III efficacy trials, along with the fact that no vaccine mandate exists.

The day before Pfizer’s vaccine was administered at healthcare facilities across the country, Simone Gold, MD, JD, who founded the group, spoke in front of the CDC headquarters in Atlanta to warn on potential safety hazards.

“The first point that we want to bring out is the fact that this is an experimental vaccine, and not a vaccine at this point,” Gold said in a video shared on her Twitter account.

“Experimental vaccines should NEVER be mandated or forced by businesses or govt. This choice should always remain between a doctor and a patient,” she wrote in the post.

“For anyone considering the Pfizer vaccine, know that you are getting an EXPERIMENTAL vaccine,” James Todaro, MD, a member of America’s Frontline Doctors, wrote on Twitter. Todaro, a former practicing ophthalmologist who is now a blockchain investor, stated that Americans should “think twice if you are under 50 yrs old with an [infection fatality rate] under 0.02%.”

These claims were not backed by data and neither member provided examples of vaccine mandates. Gold and Todaro did not respond to requests for comment from MedPage Today.

Physicians and medical experts were outraged by these sentiments, stating that clinicians who have actually treated COVID patients on the frontlines would never support these claims.

“For the record, nearly all the frontline doctors I’ve worked with and spoken to who’ve actually taken care of critically ill COVID-19 patients and seen how horrible this virus can be have been eagerly getting in line and grateful to roll up their sleeves,” Craig Spencer, MD, MPH, an emergency physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University in New York City, wrote on Twitter.

Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, a vaccine researcher from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, emphasized that no American is being forced to take a vaccine, and criticized the credentials of any clinician who would oppose immunization.

“No real frontline doctor objects to this vaccine,” Hotez wrote on Twitter. “Only the antivax, ‘health freedom’ movement linked to right wing extremism.”

Angela Rasmussen, PhD, a virologist at Georgetown University, stated that there is no such thing as “forcing” anyone to get vaccinated.

“This would be funny if it’s not the same pathetic, cynical, thirsty, self-serving grifting that intentionally sown doubt in public health expertise and resulted in 300,000 dead Americans,” Rasmussen wrote on Twitter.

America’s Frontline Doctors launched a petition to “prevent people from being intimidated or pressured into taking experimental vaccines,” which has more than 34,000 signatures. The organization also published a white paper claiming to debunk COVID-19 “myths,” which includes information about the “censorship” on the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and potential dangers of the vaccine (the group actively discourages use of a vaccine even for groups at high-risk of severe COVID-19, instead recommending “early or prophylactic treatment with established medications”).

The organization has also made attempts to incite fear about the vaccine within the Black community by falsely pushing the conspiracy that Black Americans will be used as a mass trial for the “experimental therapy,” VICE reported.

Video of the group’s July press conference was shared by President Donald Trump before major social media platforms removed it due to misinformation. After the video went viral, MedPage Today could not confirm where Gold practiced medicine. Her former employer has since rejected that Gold is a member of its staff and denounced all of her claims. Gold has since authored a book called I Do Not Consent: My Fight Against Medical Cancel Culture, which chronicles her experience treating COVID-19 patients.

Other members of America’s Frontline Doctors have come under fire for spreading politicized and inaccurate information about COVID-19. In November, MedPage Today reported that Richard Urso, MD, a member of the organization, was the subject of a complaint to the Texas Medical Board for prescribing hydroxychloroquine to patients with COVID-19. The board dismissed these claims.

Another Texas-based physician and member of the group, Stella Immanuel, MD, announced that she was under investigation by the state’s medical board as well. Immanuel trumpeted hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 during the group’s July press briefing. She has since continued to promote the anti-malarial for COVID-19 and is now warning against what she calls the “luciferase vaccine.”

Controversial Physician Joined in Storming the Capitol

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The founder of America’s Frontline Doctors – the physician group notorious for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 – confirmed that she participated in the riot on Capitol Hill last week.

Simone Gold, MD, JD, a California doctor who has touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and raised unfounded concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines, admitted to the Washington Post that she joined the mob that stormed the Capitol last Wednesday.

Gold was initially identified via social media, after the FBI posted “wanted” images of rioters who breached the Capitol. Gold was seen in photograph #21 holding a megaphone. A video of Gold making a speech to insurrectionists inside the federal building has also circulated online.

Gold confirmed to the Post that it was indeed her in the image and the video. She added that she followed a crowd inside the building and assumed it was legal to do so. She did not respond to a request for comment from MedPage Today.

America’s Frontline Doctors made headlines this summer when several of its physician members held a rally in front of the Supreme Court this summer, spreading misinformation about hydroxychloroquine, protesting lockdown restrictions, and questioning the effectiveness of masking. Since then, the group has attempted to incite public fear about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Following last week’s deadly insurrection on Capitol Hill, in which a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to disrupt the 2020 election certification results, 13 people are accused of federal crimes and 40 face local charges, according to a Department of Justice press release. The department did not respond to a query about whether Gold has been charged.

Gold spoke at rallies leading up to the storming of the Capitol, inciting fear about the vaccine and claiming COVID-19 to be non-lethal. She stated that people must not comply with taking “an experimental, biological agent deceptively named a vaccine.”

“I urge you to mark this day, this moment, as the united return of our nation, to the eternal fight for freedom, a commitment to integrity, a resolve to seek the truth in all arenas, and to always act upon it,” Gold said in a video posted on Twitter.

In the days leading up to the riot, Gold openly shared her plans to attend Wednesday’s events on social media. “I will be speaking at the #StopTheSteal rally in DC on January 6,” she stated in an Instagram post written on Dec. 28. “Learn the facts you need to fight for freedom from forced experimental vaccines, government overreach, and unconstitutional lockdowns.”

She was accompanied by John Strand, the communications director of America’s Frontline Doctors.

Gold also has spoken at events hosted by Turning Point USA, a non-profit organization that supports grassroots conservative movements on high school and college campuses. Turning Point Action, an arm of the non-profit, sent buses of students to the rally preceding the march on the Capitol.

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk wrote on Twitter that his organization was “honored” to help make the event happen, admitting that it sent more than 80 buses “full of patriots” to Washington. The tweet has since been deleted. A spokesperson from Turning Point told MedPage Today that this tweet was inaccurate, as only seven buses of students were sent to the event, and there was no intention of storming the Capitol on their agenda.

In December, Gold attended a summit hosted by the organization and has been a guest on Kirk’s podcast.