VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Doc Willie Ong’s ‘ad for Pertussis cure’ FAKE, AI-manipulated

Doc Willie Ong is promoting a product that treats whooping cough or pertussis.

Facebook page Breathe Good 12 04/05/2024 Fake

The advertisement used clips of Ong manipulated through artificial intelligence. Vitalungs is not registered with the Food and Drug Administration.

A video of cardiologist Doc Willie Ong promoting an alleged cure for whooping cough or pertussis was uploaded on Facebook (FB) and gaining traction. The advertisement is fake and uses clips altered using artificial intelligence (AI). 

Uploaded on April 5, the two-minute and 47-second video shows clips of Ong endorsing a product supposedly approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that claims to treat any respiratory disease including pertussis. It bore the caption: 

“WHOOPING COUGH SOLUTION !! Whooping cough, isang virus na kumakalat ngayon. Ano nga ba ang Whooping cough? Sino-sino ba ang mga natatamaan nito? Meron bang solusyon dito? Sasagutin lahat yan ni Doc.W.Ong (a virus that is currently spreading. What exactly is Whooping cough? Who can be affected by this? Is there a solution to this? Doc. W. Ong will answer all of that).

In the clip, Ong can be seen and heard saying: 

Hindi mo na kailangan pang maghanap ng mga antibiotic dahil ipapakilala ko sa inyo ang isang gamot na epektibo at pwedeng inumin sa anumang edad. Vitalungs lang ang tanging lung supplement na may kakayahang lunasan ang anumang lung conditions o respiratory diseases kagaya ng whooping cough at iba pa

(You don’t need to look for antibiotics because I will introduce you to a medicine that is effective and can be taken at any age. Vitalungs is the only lung supplement that has the ability to treat any lung condition or respiratory disease such as whooping cough and others).”

To avail of the product, the page instructs netizens to send a message.

This advertisement is fake and AI-manipulated. Ong is not promoting the product and Vitalungs is not a registered drug or food product with the FDA. 

The clips were taken from Ong’s vlog where he discussed pertussis and its treatment uploaded on March 22. Contrary to the video’s claims, the doctor only recommended three types of antibiotics to treat pertussis. 

Ong has repeatedly denied endorsing products aside from a milk supplement for seniors. 

In a March 27 press release, the Department of Health reiterated that pertussis, transmitted from person to person through coughing or sneezing, can be treated and prevented through antibiotics, good respiratory hygiene and vaccination. 

According to DOH’s data, 1,112 cases of pertussis, including 54 deaths, were logged from Jan 1 to March 30 this year. This is 34 times higher than the number of cases recorded in the same period last year. 

VERA Files also debunked another AI-manipulated video that featured Ong promoting an unregistered health product. (Read Video of Doc Willie Ong endorsing a product for heart disease is AI-ALTERED

The video uploaded by FB page Breathe Good 12 (created on July 20, 2023) garnered 470 reactions, 203 comments, 60 shares and 31,000 views. 

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)