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Meme misleads about delta variant of the coronavirus

July 8, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: The delta variant of the coronavirus is fake.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The delta variant, a mutation of the coronavirus named after the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet, has been identified in more than 90 countries since it was first detected in India.

THE FACTS: A widely circulating Facebook post denying the existence of COVID-19’s delta variant ignores science and the reality that the highly contagious variant has spread rapidly across the globe.

The post is a meme featuring former President Donald Trump holding up an executive order he signed in 2017. In place of the executive order text are the words, “The Delta Variant Is Fake News.”

Commenters on the post accused Democrats of making up the delta variant to “keep the pot stirred up” and “keep everyone living in fear.”

In fact, nonpartisan scientists and health officials worldwide have acknowledged the existence of the delta variant, a version of the virus that experts say spreads more easily than other variants because of mutations that make it better at latching onto cells in our bodies.

Studies have shown that full doses of the available vaccines protect against variants, including the delta variant.

The delta variant poses the most danger in places where vaccinations are sparse. In Africa, for example, coronavirus cases are rising faster than ever before, partially driven by the mutation, according to the World Health Organization.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536