VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Post on ‘talking newborn’ saying hard-boiled eggs a cure for COVID-19 NOT TRUE

A hoax purporting to introduce a remedy for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is circulating on social media. It makes a bizarre claim that a newborn in the northern Philippines suddenly spoke and instructed people to eat boiled eggs amid the ongoing pandemic.

On March 26, Gemz Channel published on YouTube a two-minute-long video titled, “NEW BORN BABY..BUMANGON AT NAGSALITA | ANG SINABI NA BA NYA ANG GAMOT SA SAKIT NA KUMAKALAT NGAYON? (Newborn baby stood up and talked | Is what the baby said the cure to the disease that’s currently spreading?)”

The video featured the front seat view of someone driving along an expressway at night. For the first 55 seconds, a woman could be heard speaking in a mix of Filipino and English. Upbeat music was overlaid on the visuals for the rest of the clip.

The woman claimed that in her hometown of Aparri in Cagayan province, a baby stood up immediately after being born and said, “Kakain kayo ng nilagang itlog (You will eat hard-boiled eggs).” The infant supposedly died right after. The woman then said “there is nothing wrong if we try to eat eggs” just as the baby instructed, and told her viewers to “spread the news.”

Aside from Gemz Channel, at least four other Youtube channels (kahibol ate rhuvy, Pure Bisaya, Mari vlogs, and Rona Dew Fusion), two Facebook (FB) pages (ALL RIGHT and OFW Tambayan TV), and two netizens published posts carrying claims similar to the viral video's.

A few mentioned a different place where the incident took place, like in Malaysia or in Samar province, while others even detailed the way the egg should be prepared and eaten.

This claim is untrue, and the story about the “speaking” newborn baby was recycled from an Indonesian hoax.

The World Health Organization (WHO) refuted the viral claim. “There is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating eggs has protected people from the new coronavirus,” WHO Philippines said in an email to VERA Files Fact Check.

There remains to be no medicine or vaccine proven to cure or prevent the spread of COVID-19. WHO maintains that the best way to safeguard oneself from COVID-19 is through frequent handwashing, observance of proper respiratory hygiene, and compliance with social distancing practices.

The hoax’s Indonesian, Chinese roots

The story of a talking newborn appears to be a localized version of a manipulated video that went viral in Indonesia last month. That altered clip showed a baby reportedly born in the North Sulawesi province with a mouth of an adult, edited to show it was talking and instructing people to “eat boiled eggs before midnight” to protect themselves from COVID-19.

This resulted in a frenzy among Indonesians before media organizations there were able to debunk the claim of the obviously edited video.

Tribun Manado, a North Sulawesi-based news media, reported that the Indonesian hoax seems to have evolved from a fake claim in China in February that said a pig -- not a newborn human -- talked and instructed people to eat nine eggs before sunrise. Chinese authorities tracked down the woman who spread the hoax, and she confessed that she did it “after reading that eating eggs can strengthen the immune system,” according to a South China Morning Post report in February. The woman was later charged with 10 days of imprisonment.

The Filipino versions of the fake claim uploaded on Youtube now have an accumulated total of almost 1.4 million views. The FB posts, on the other hand, were shared over 3,700 times and got around three thousand reactions and three thousand comments. Meanwhile, Philnews.ph’s article received over 500 interactions on FB, and could have reached almost half a million social media users.

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

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