The Claim and Our Verdict
- The claim: Singapore is the first country to perform autopsies on people who died from COVID-19, and COVID-19 is caused by a bacterium rather than a virus.
- On Feb. 22, 2020, China was the first country to release an autopsy report of a person who died from COVID-19. The autopsy was performed during the morning of Feb. 16, 2020. The first death from COVID-19 in Singapore was reported by Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) on March 21, 2020.
- The MOH said on June 7, 2021, that Singapore has not performed any autopsies on people who died from COVID-19.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not a bacterium and cannot be treated with antibiotics.
- Similar claims have been debunked by other fact checkers.
- Our ruling: Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
A Facebook post published June 6, 2021, claims that Singapore was the first country to perform an autopsy on a person who died from COVID-19. It also alleges that a thorough investigation has discovered COVID-19 is not caused by a virus, but by a radioactive bacterium that leads to death by blood coagulation.
The Facebook post had been shared 65 times and had received 43 likes and “mood reactions” as of the issuance of this report.
HKBU FactCheck Service found that a report titled “Gross examination report of a COVID-19 death autopsy” was published Feb. 22, 2020, in the Journal of Forensic Medicine, a Chinese national academic journal of forensic science published domestically and internationally. The report claims the autopsy was conducted at Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital and was led by the research team of professor LIU Liang, head of the department of forensic medicine of Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology. According to a news article published by the Chinese state-owned media China Central Television (CCTV), Liu conducted the first autopsy of a person who died from COVID-19 during the morning of Feb. 16, 2020.
The Facebook post claims the information originates from Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH). However, the MOH issued a statement June 7, 2021, via its Facebook account that claims, “Singapore has not performed such an autopsy.” Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore’s largest-circulation Chinese-language newspaper, also claims that Singapore has not performed any autopsies on people who have died from COVID-19. Furthermore, Singapore’s first COVID-19 related death was reported Mar 21, 2020, according to the official website of the MOH, later than China’s first autopsy report. Therefore, the claim “Singapore is the first country to perform an autopsy on a person who died from COVID-19” is FALSE.
The other claim in the post, “COVID-19 is caused by a bacterium rather than a virus,” has been debunked by the World Health Organization (WHO). COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) also confirms that antibiotics cannot treat or prevent COVID-19. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, not viruses.
HKBU FactCheck Service also found similar versions of the claim on social media, such as “the so-called COVID-19 found in Italy is nothing more than disseminated intravascular coagulation” and “COVID-19 is a thrombosis, caused by bacteria,” both of which have been debunked by Reuters and the Indian fact checker—Fact Crescendo.
Taiwan FactCheck Center has also debunked similar claims such as “Russia is now the world’s first country to perform autopsies on COVID-19 deaths.” The content is nearly the same as the checked post, implying that the misinformation has been circulating for a while.
Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
- Journal of Forensic Medicine, “Gross examination report of a COVID-19 death autopsy,” published in 2020.
- CCTV, “Interview with Professor Liang LIU,” February 25, 2020.
- Chinanews, “First COVID-19 Death in Singapore,” March 21, 2020.
- Singapore Ministry of Health, Facebook post, June 7, 2021.
- Lianhe Zaobao, “MOH: Singapore hasn’t performed autopsy on bodies of COVID-19 Death,” June 7, 2021.
- WHO, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Mythbusters,” May 5, 2021.
- FDA, “COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions,” July 16, 2021.
- Fact Crescendo, “Conspiracy Theory Of COVID-19 Being A Bacterial Disease-Causing Thrombosis,” May 26, 2020.
- Reuters, “Fact check: COVID-19 is not thrombosis, nor is it caused by bacteria,” May 29, 2020.
- Taiwan FactCheck Centre, “[FALSE] Russia is now the world’s first country to perform autopsies on bodies of COVID-19 deaths,” May 4, 2021.