FACT CHECK: Did Doctors Describe Boris Johnson’s Coronavirus Symptoms As ‘Contrived’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A viral Facebook post claims two doctors who treated U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson for coronavirus made statements suggesting his symptoms were “contrived.”



Verdict: False

The post originated on a satirical Facebook page, and there is no truth to its claim.

Fact Check:

Johnson tweeted on March 27 that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. He spent a week in the hospital, including three nights in intensive care, before being released on April 12, according to NPR.

A viral Facebook post claims that the British prime minister did not have COVID-19, citing two doctors who allegedly treated him in the hospital as sources. (RELATED: Viral Video Claims To Show Mass Grave For Coronavirus Victims In Italy)

Dr. Shirley Knott allegedly said Johnson “had the most pathetic, contrived cough I have heard in all my years of practise,” while Dr. Ashleigh Pullin was quoted as saying, “If he had Covid-19 then I’m not a doctor!” The post asserted that these statements are “proof” that the public had been “hoodwinked.”

But there is no evidence this story is real. Neither doctor mentioned in the post can be found on the General Medical Council’s register, a database that lists all the doctors in the United Kingdom. Nor could any news reporting could be found to back up the claim.

Reuters Fact Check traced the origins of the post to Facebook user Anthony George, who originally shared the story on the satirical Facebook page “A Poke in the Eye With a Sharp Wit.” The page describes itself as a “place for political humour and satire, poking fun at those in the government of the day.”

George confirmed to Reuters that the post was written as satire, saying, “There was nothing personal intended towards Boris Johnson himself indeed, had it been Jeremy Corbyn or any other PM, I would have said the same.”

However, many of those who shared George’s post failed to realize or disclaim its satirical nature. This is a common way misinformation spreads on the internet.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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