This video has been doctored -- scientists have not found bananas prevent coronavirus infection

Copyright AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

A video has been shared repeatedly in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which claim it shows a genuine news report about Australian researchers discovering bananas can help prevent infection by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The claim is false; the video has been doctored from a news report by the Australian television channel ABC to include references to bananas; the scientist cited in the report told AFP the claim is untrue.

The 58-second video was published in this Facebook post on March 15, 2020.

The first three seconds of the video show the beginning of a news report, bearing the logo of Australia’s public broadcaster ABC News. The news presenter Kathryn Robinson can be heard saying: “Scientists from the University of Queensland are confident they’ll be able to develop a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus.” 

The video then switches to a collage of visualisations of bananas and viruses. The text overlay from the video’s 38-second mark states: “Research made by scientists from the University of Queensland in  Australia have proven that bananas, improve your inmune [sic] system due to the super source of Vitamins B-6 and helps prevent coronavirus. Having a banana a day keeps the coronavirus AWAY". 

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:

Screenshot of Facebook post

The post’s Tagalog-language caption translates to English as: “According to University of Queensland Scientists - Banana, effective defence against COVID-19.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has has killed at least 7,900 people and infected some 190,000 others, as stated in this AFP report on March 18, 2020. 

The video was also shared  here on Facebook; here on YouTube and here on Twitter alongside a similar claim.

The Philippine presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo also made a similar claim about the supposed anti-COVID-19 properties of bananas in this March 16, 2020 press briefing. In a mix of Tagalog and English, he said: “I have read many things on how to destroy or contain, to kill the virus… I saw on the internet that bananas are a good defense”.

The claim is false.

A combined keyword and reverse image search using keyframes extracted from the video in the misleading posts found this longer video on the YouTube channel for ABC News on January 23, 2020. 

It is titled: “Race is on as Australian researchers rush to make coronavirus vaccine”.

The first three seconds of the misleading video correspond with the first three seconds of the ABC News video.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the misleading video (L) and the ABC News video (R):

Screenshot comparison

But the full three-minute 39-second ABC News video does not mention bananas.

It instead includes an interview with a University of Queensland scientist Dr. Keith Chappell, who discusses the university’s efforts to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

In response to the claims made in the misleading Facebook post, Chappell told AFP via email on March 16, 2020: “This is definitely NOT true.”