On April 20, an online edition alternews.ge published an article headlined “Georgian blood is unique. It may prove useful to fight COVID-19.” According to the article, doctor Dick Longballs from the Virology Research Center in the city of Hartford, the U.S. state of Connecticut, who is involved in developing a vaccine against COVID-19, discovered that Georgian blood contains special particles. The online edition reports that the information was provided by a Georgian doctor whose identity is not specified in the article. The material has 21,500 shares. It has also been shared by Facebook pages “მე მიყვარს ჩემი პატრიარქი” and “მოძრაობა ძლევაი საკვირველი”.
The news published by alternews.ge is apparently fabricated, because no such study can be searched on the website of the UConn Health Center. Moreover, it is less likely that Dick Longballs is a real person. The edition, which was registered on April 4, notes in ‘About us’ section that the news agency’s goal is to promote media literacy through specific methods.
The study proving that the genetic origin of blood has any links to fighting coronavirus cannot be searched on the website of the UConn Health Center. Thus, any reports on unique nature of Georgian blood in fighting COVID-19 are based on anecdotal evidence. As far as Dick Longballs is concerned, it is a fictional name (long + balls).
Alternews.ge got registered on April 4, 16 days before publishing the material and according to whois.domaintools.com, Irakli Chachkhiani is its admin.
All articles published on the newly created website are anonymous and neither does the website provide any information about its editorial board. In ‘About us’ section, the online edition notes that it is a news agency and its goal is to promote media literacy through specific methods.
The online edition also spreads other absurd materials. For example, an article headlined “How much does masturbation increase the risk of catching COVID-19?!” claims that the Chinese Health Minister made the following statement: “Masturbation makes humans more susceptible to COVID-19.” However, this statement is not proved by any source. The link indicated in the material redirects us to the website of the Chinese Health Ministry, where the above mentioned statement cannot be searched.
Prepared by Ana Chikovani
Myth Detector Lab