Social Media Post comparing Tuberculosis with COVID-19 is misleading

 Newswise
21-Sep-2020 11:45 AM EDT, by Newswise

Fact Check By: Craig Jones, Newswise

Truthfulness: Half True

Claim:

Last year alone, 10 million fell ill from TB and 1.5 million died. ... Why don’t we wear masks for TB?”

Claim Publisher and Date: Facebook on 2020-09-17

Although the numbers stated by the viral post are accurate (as confirmed by the World Health Organization), the context of the message is misleading, since it attempts to downplay the need for coronavirus safety precautions like mask wearing.

COVID-19 is far more prevalent in the United States than TB. 

Both diseases can be transmitted from person to person through the air, and wearing a mask is recommended for preventing the spread of both.

As reported by Madison Czopek on Politifact...

 

The World Health Organization has published a global tuberculosis report every year since 1997. But in 2020, the global TB report isn’t just being used for educational purposes; it’s also being used to mislead social media users about the severity of COVID-19.

One Facebook post employs accurate global tuberculosis numbers in an attempt to play down the need for coronavirus safety precautions like mask wearing.

"Almost 4500 people lose their lives to tuberculosis EVERY SINGLE DAY. 30,000 people fall ill with tuberculosis EVERY SINGLE DAY. Last year alone, 10 million fell ill from TB and 1.5 million died," the post reads, pointing to the World Health Organization as a source. "Why don’t we wear masks for TB? Because CNN hasn’t instructed you to."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Are the numbers right? Yes, for the most part. But the post’s conclusions are misleading. TB isn’t prevalent in the United States, but in countries where it is prevalent, mask wearing actually is recommended. 

Read more here

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