These photos have circulated in reports before the COVID-19 pandemic
Two photos which show human throats have been shared hundreds of times in multiple Facebook posts warning about the seriousness of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. The photos have been shared in a misleading context; both images have circulated online before the COVID-19 pandemic; health experts have clarified that only a small percentage of COVID-19 patients are likely to develop the most severe symptoms.
The photos were published on Facebook here on June 22, 2020. The post has been shared more than 200 times.
The post’s caption states in part: “When you get sick of CORONAVIRUS you're going to have a fever. Lots of fever. The highest fever ever given you. It's not going to look like typical flu fevers. / You're going to breathe slowly, like they put a sponge in your nose. When you try to fill your lungs by inhaling hard, you're going to feel like you're still lacking the air. And that will scare you.”
But the photos have been shared in a misleading context; a combined reverse image search on TinEye and keyword searches on Google found both photos circulating online before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below is a screenshot comparison showing the first photo in the misleading posts (L) and the stock photo used in the 2019 news report (R):
The second photo appears in this US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web page. Its caption states the photo dates back to 1958 and shows a strep throat.
Below is a screenshot comparison showing the second photo in the misleading posts (L) and the CDC photo (R):
The claim about the severity of COVID-19 for all patients is also misleading.
Dr Eduardo De Vito, head of pulmonology at the Lanari Institute in Buenos Aires, told AFP that people diagnosed with COVID-19 "are not necessarily" going to experience the highest fever they have ever had, contrary to the misleading claim. "It's similar to the common flu fever.”
Dr De Vito added that "only a small percentage of patients" will have difficulty breathing.
While anyone can catch and become seriously ill with COVID-19, the World Health Organization states in this information page: "Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment.”