Claim that Boris Johnson did not get COVID-19 is based on satire

By: Soham Shah
July 3 2023

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Claim that Boris Johnson did not get COVID-19 is based on satire


The Verdict False

The former U.K. PM was infected with COVID-19 in March 2020 and was admitted to St. Thomas Hospital in London. The hospital had confirmed his ailment.

Claim ID 9db85404


A photo of former United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with some text about his COVID-19 spell, is going viral on Facebook. The text seems to be part of a screengrab of an online post and reads: "Dorset Eye are reporting that when the PM was admitted to hospital, all staff were required to sign the official secrets act. 2 doctors who disagreed with his diagnosis refused, and were sent home on leave! One of the doctors said 'if he has Covid19 I am not a doctor!" Several Facebook users shared Johnson's photo with this text criticizing him for allegedly lying about getting COVID-19.

Johnson announced on March 27, 2020, that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He had said that he had mild symptoms and was isolating and working from home. According to reports, he was admitted to a hospital in St Thomas Hospital with "persistent symptoms," including high fever, a few days later. However, the viral Facebook image insinuates that Johnson had not contracted COVID-19. It also claims that Dorset Eye—an independent outlet— reported that the staff members at the hospital where Johnson was admitted were required to sign the 'Official Secrets Act' and that two doctors who disagreed with the COVID-19 diagnosis were sent home. 

However, this claim is based on a satirical piece.

In Fact

The report the post refers to can be found on the Dorset Eye website. It is titled, "Was Boris Johnson's Covid-19 condition contrived?" and was penned by Anthony George. In the article, George claims to have met an employee of St Thomas Hospital who revealed the details about Johnson's hospitalization. He mentions that 'Dr. Shirley Knott' and 'Dr. Ashleigh Pullin' were put off by Johnson's "flippant" attitude and quotes Pullin saying, "If he(Johnson) had Covid-19 then I'm not a doctor!" The article further said two doctors who refused to sign the Official Secrets Act "were subsequently sent on gardening leave." 

However, this article was posted on Dorset Eye under a section called 'Satire in name only.' This section contains other articles titled, "Jonathan Gullis gets his arse handed to him on asylum seekers", and "Barry Humphreys: Are Sir Les Patterson and Boris Johnson one and the same?"

The current version of the article starts with the words, "Possibly satire, possibly not." The original version of the article posted on April 12, 2020, did not have this line, and it was added later, according to the archive versions recorded on Wayback Machine.

A version of the page captured at 20:18 on April 12, 2020, shows an updated article with the lines, "Facilitator Update: We realise now that this article may well be satire or that the names have simply been made up. Either way the point is that we have a PM who is perceived by millions as a liar and a government who have handled the Covid-19 crisis in a chaotic and often criminal way. We do however apologise to those who may initially have believed that this article was 100% factual (without satirical substance)," added at the end. These lines have now been removed. 

Names like 'Shirley Knott' and 'Ashleigh Pullin' used in the article indicate that it is not a serious piece of reporting and is only satire. The use of informal language—words like "wow" and abbreviations like 'BJ' for Boris Johnson— also make it clear that the article is a satirical piece.

St. Thomas Hospital had confirmed the admission of Boris Johnson due to a COVID-19 infection at the time. In addition to this, several credible UK-based news organizations like The Guardian had reported on Johnson's infection and his symptoms at length. 

The Verdict

We have marked this claim false as the source article by Dorset Eye is just satire. Further, St. Thomas Hospital, where Johnson was admitted for COVID-19 treatment, had confirmed the leader had COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.

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