To flatten the curve amid the coronavirus pandemic, when health experts are suggesting that people should wear facemasks to arrest further spread of coronavirus, many social media posts are suggesting to the contrary. According to one such post, wearing a facemask is causing bacterial pneumonia which is causing more deaths.

A Facebook user shared a link of National Institute of Health (NIH), which was titled, “Bacterial Pneumonia caused most deaths in 1918 Influenza Pandemic.” The link is shared with the caption insinuating that more people die of bacterial pneumonia caused by wearing facemasks than coronavirus itself. The link is shared with the caption, “Face masks cause bacterial pneumonia and kill more people than the last pandemic.”

The link to the post can be seen here.

Many similar posts are viral on Facebook and Twitter, which can be read here, here and here.

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NewsMobile did a fact-check and found the claim to be fake. 

Upon going through the link shared by the Facebook user, we found that the article was published on August 19, 2008, long before the coronavirus pandemic.

The article warns health authorities against the next pandemic. It says that the deaths in previous influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu that happened between 1918-1919) was not only caused by the influenza virus acting alone but also bacterial pneumonia following influenza virus infection. The article also suggests that to contain the next pandemic, the health authorities should not only focus on new and improved influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs but also provisions to stockpile antibiotics and bacterial vaccines as well. The article nowhere mentions that facemask causes bacterial pneumonia. 

An article by John Hopkins University on pneumonia says that those above 65 years and lower than 2 years of age at a higher risk of getting the disease. It also suggests people with certain medical conditions, and those who smoke are also at higher risk, but nowhere does it mention that facemask causes pneumonia.

Also neither American Lung Association, nor the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, and the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests that wearing a facemask can cause pneumonia.

On the contrary, a website, Intermountain Healthcare, a Utah-based company medical organisation, suggests wearing a face mask can prevent pneumonia. The article says a mask must be worn when cleaning or working in dusty or mouldy places to prevent the bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia from getting into the lungs. 

World Health Organisation also suggest wearing facemask amid coronavirus pandemic, to prevent further spread of coronavirus. 

Hence, the viral claim that wearing a face mask can cause pneumonia is false and misleading.


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