False: WHO admitted coronavirus is a seasonal virus.

By: Annie Priya
January 5 2023

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
False: WHO admitted coronavirus is a seasonal virus.


The Verdict False

WHO hasn't termed coronavirus a seasonal virus. A video from 2020 of a group of COVID-19 deniers has resurfaced and is being shared with false claims.

Claim ID c2cb97ce


The emergence of a new subvariant of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has led to a rise in misinformation surrounding COVID-19. A three-minute video circulating on social media shows a group of panelists, out of which a woman claims that coronavirus is "nothing but a seasonal virus." In the video, the woman identified as Dr. Dolores Cahill said, "The coronavirus is a seasonal virus that causes illness and symptoms from December to April, and that for people who have symptoms, there are treatments like inhaled steroids, hydroxychloroquine, and zinc. So there is no need for the lockdown, there is no need for fear, there is no need for masks or social distancing, or for quarantining people..."

 The video has been shared in several Twitter posts implying that it is the World Health Organization (WHO) that has labeled coronavirus a seasonal virus. One user shared the video with the caption: "Big Breaking News: WHO accepted that it did commit a mistake and now it has taken a complete U-turn and said that Corona is a seasonal virus, it is a cough, cold and throat pain during the change of weather. And so there is no need to panic! Spread this message. Make it viral."


In Fact

With the help of reverse image search and keyword search, we found that the viral video is from October 2020, and the people seen in the video are not from WHO but are members of a group called the World Doctors Alliance (WDA). The video was posted on the Facebook page 'Corruption Awareness Ireland' on October 15, 2020. The post caption read: "Professor Dolores Cahill's speech last Saturday in Berlin, Germany. (World Doctors Alliance) #1…"Taking a cue from this, we performed a keyword search on Google and came across an extended version of the video posted on the website of an organization known by its German acronym ACU2020. The video was slightly more than 18 minutes and was titled, “Berlin 10102020: Better Normal, not New Normal World Doctors Alliance.” At the start of the video, one Heiko Schöning—who claimed to be a doctor from Germany and introduced himself as one of the founders of ‘COVID-19 Extra Parliamentary Inquiry Committee' (known as Außerparlamentarischer Corona Untersuchungsausschuss (ACU) in German)—said that doctors, scientists, peace activists from around the world had come together to announce the formation of World Doctors Alliance "under the roof of ACU2020. org."

Since its formation, several media outlets and independent bodies have found that the WDA has been spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19. The group consists of practicing and former doctors who claim that the COVID-19 pandemic should not be taken seriously. Dr. Dolores Cahill herself is infamous for unscientific views on COVID-19. In 2021, her employment at the University College Dublin (UCD) was reportedly terminated over her unsubstantiated comments on COVID-19. The anti-vaxxer and anti-masks campaigner was also asked to leave a European Union scientific committee over her controversial views. In the past, many other fact-checking organizations have debunked claims made by Cahill as well as the others in the 18-minute video. While YouTube had pulled the video down for violating its terms of service, several clips from it have resurfaced on social media with false claims.

 The WHO has not labeled COVID-19 a seasonal virus on its website or any social media accounts. The WHO maintains that COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Additionally, on its page dedicated to busting myths around the coronavirus, the WHO explicitly noted that exposing oneself to the sun or higher temperatures does not protect one from COVID-19. "You can catch COVID-19 no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19,” the WHO said on the webpage. 

There is also no scientific evidence to back the claim that coronavirus is a seasonal virus. A research paper published in the open-access multidisciplinary journal Nature Communications, which is a part of the Nature Portfolio that also brings out leading science journal Nature, also noted that "no human-settled area in the world is protected from COVID-19 transmission by virtue of weather at any point in the year." 

 Moreover, data from the past two years clearly shows that there is no trend of people catching COVID-19 only between December and April and that the infection can spread any time of the year. According to the WHO dashboard, between December 2020 and April 2021, the U.S. reported a total of 18,390,245 COVID-19 cases. From May 2021 to November 2021, a total of 16,090,166 COVID-19 cases were recorded in the U.S. India recorded 9,300,167 cases between December 2020 and April 2021 and 15,422,853 cases between May 2021 and November 2021. The corresponding figures for the U.K. were 2,835,853 and 5,919,772. The huge number of cases reported between May and November show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can spread widely throughout the year. This contradicts the claim that coronavirus is a seasonal virus and only spreads between December and April. 

 Also, any claim implying that COVID-19 is nothing but influenza caused by the seasonal flu virus is also wrong and misleading. Indian epidemiologist and member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) Dr. Jayaprakash Muliyil told Logically that while some symptoms of the two diseases may overlap, the severity of the two diseases differs for different age groups. He said, "In terms of severity, influenza or flu is actually more severe for children, and COVID-19 is surprisingly much less severe for children. So if I were to compare the seasonal flu with COVID-19, specifically caused by Omicron and its subvariants, the symptoms of the latter are similar to that of signs of a milder version of seasonal flu." He added that for older people with other illnesses, Omicron would be dangerous, but for children, it is less severe. "Overall, COVID-19 seems to cause more severe illness in some people," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website said. The CDC also said that COVID-19 spreads more easily than the flu, and both are caused by different viruses. 

The verdict

An old video of a group of COVID-19 deniers has been falsely attributed to WHO. The viral video was released in 2020 by the World Doctors Alliance, which is known for spreading conspiracy theories about the pandemic. Also, data shows that COVID-19 can spread throughout the year. Therefore, we mark this claim false. 

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.

Read this fact-check in:

English , অসমীয়া

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before