NOT REAL NEWS: Take a look at what did not happen this week

Here's a roundup of some of most viral, but totally false stories and visuals from the week. Despite being shared on social media, none of these stories are true. They were checked by the Associated Press. These are the facts:

NOT REAL NEWS: Take a look at what did not happen this week


NY legislators are not voting on the bill to detain unvaccinated

CLAIM: New York legislators will vote Jan. 5, on a bill which would allow the "indefinite detention" of unvaccinated people.

FACTS: This claim misrepresents a 2015 bill that, when first introduced in New York State legislature, would allow for temporary detention of persons infected with contagious diseases during a public emergency. The bill's sponsor, Assemblyman N. Nick Perry (state Assembly), has said he will withdraw it. The proposal is still being debated online, even though it has not been supported by lawmakers. Social media users claim that lawmakers plan to vote on the bill Jan. 5, and that it will allow for the "indefinite" detention of COVID-19-infected people. However, no vote was scheduled for the bill at issue on that day. This is the beginning of the legislative session. Perry, the bill's sponsor, tweeted Monday, citing "concocted stories," that the bill was being considered online. He said that he would take "legislative actions to strike the bill and remove it from the schedule, ending all consideration and actions that could lead towards passage into law." The bill also contained a provision that required the state to obtain a court order for any person being held more than three days. According to Frank Shea, a Perry spokesperson, the bill was originally introduced in 2015. The bill was proposed after a nurse treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and refused quarantine. Shea stated that Perry had reintroduced this bill year after year but had not actively advocated for it and said it would be withdrawn as it was becoming a distraction. The latest introduction occurred in January 2021 when it was referred by the Assembly's Committee on Health. It was not subject to any other action. Perry had announced Monday that he would withdraw his bill. However, Richard Gottfried's office -- the chairperson of the Committee on Health -- stated in a statement to AP that they did not plan to vote on the bill. The statement stated that "This bill has been presented every year since 2015. It has never been considered by the Committee, hasn't been cosponsored or had a companion bill in Senate." The Committee doesn't plan to place the bill on an agenda.

CLAIM: Data from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, has shown that even mild cases of COVID-19 are likely to protect you from the virus for your entire life.

FACTS: Researchers found that COVID-19-recovery patients have bone marrow cells capable of creating antibodies for decades. However, this doesn't make them immune to new strains of the virus. The highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus quickly became the dominant one in the U.S. A misleading article and several social media posts claimed that people who had COVID-19 previously are now immune for life. An article on Tuesday's news site The Epoch Times stated that anyone who has had COVID-19 (even a mild case) should be congratulated. "In fact you're likely immune for life. As is the case for many infectious agents recovery -- once you have the disease and recover, you are immune, most likely for your entire life." Dr. Ali Ellebedy who teaches pathology at Washington University's medical college, said that the study's co-author, Dr. Ali Ellebedy, misrepresents the study. The blood and bone marrow samples of patients with mild COVID-19 infections were examined. It found that long-lived antibodies-producing cells were present, which suggests that those who have been treated for COVID-19 will likely develop long-lasting antibodies. Ellebedy stated in an email that the study does not prove or claim that mild SARS-CoV-2 infections are immune to infection for life. "Epidemiological data clearly shows that people who have been infected with earlier infections can become infected, especially with emerging strains like Omicron and Delta." Ellebedy clarified that just because you have an antibody response that lasts for a lifetime does not mean that you are immune to the virus for life. Ellebedy stated that not all antibodies are immune to the virus, especially when it is changing constantly. Although it doesn't appear to provide much protection against an Omicron infection, a prior infection may be beneficial. However, vaccination can reduce the risk of serious illness. Researchers in South Africa and Britain found that people who have suffered from COVID-19 are more likely to get re-infected with omicron than they were with the earlier variants of the virus. The Epoch Times didn't respond to an email request for comment.

This report was contributed by Ali Swenson, an Associated Press journalist in New York.


Scientists discover COVID variants by sequencing and not symptoms

CLAIM: Scientists are referring to the omicron version of COVID-19 as the common cold or respiratory syncytial viruses. Both of these illnesses appear more frequently in winter months.

THE FACTS: Scientists are not merely calling the common cold or RSV an "omicron variant", despite claims that they do so to make it sound more scientific. Scientists have discovered the omicron variant by precise genetic sequencing and not just by looking for symptoms similar to colds. Scientists can identify the mutations in the virus by sequencing the genome of coronavirus from a respiratory sample taken from someone who has tested positive to COVID-19. Scientists can then determine if a new variant of coronavirus is emerging in the population. This is different from a previous strain. Professor and anesthesiologist Dr. Anita Gupta at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said that every virus and bacteria has its own genetic markers. She said that scientists look for these genetic markers in viral genome sequences. "That's how they can identify which type they have." COVID-19 diagnostic tests are not just used to confirm that you are sick. They are specifically designed to detect the presence of SARS, CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. A COVID-19 test identifies whether the virus responsible for COVID-19 is present in your body. It can be either a PCR test that looks for genetic material or a rapid test that looks for proteins. Gupta explained that COVID-19 tests can only register positive if there is SARS-CoV-2.

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