Leaflets promoting false and misleading claims about COVID-19 have been distributed on campus, delivered in the post, and spread across the city over the past few days.
A group, calling themselves Wake Up Yorkshire, are advertised on these leaflets, promoting their website that houses disingenuous and debunked claims about the disease.
The group may be a part of, or another name for, Free Nation, whose leaflets were distributed alongside.
Iseabail Wilks, a third year Archaeology student who received some of this material told York Vision “it was kind of strange and made me a bit worried about there being a prevalence of anti lockdown sentiment in my neighbourhood”.
Among the claims made on the leaflets, it is said that COVID-19 is no longer classified a high consequence infectious disease (HCID), to which FullFact have stated: “this is true, because it no longer meets the criteria for an HCID. This doesn’t mean that it is no longer considered dangerous”.
The site also claims that COVID-19 tests generate a 90% false positive rate.
Reuters link this back to a UCL study which suggests “86% of those who tested positive for the coronavirus were asymptomatic” which is not the same as a false positive.
It’s also worth reading the breakdown of test specificity and test sensitivity done by the Huffington Post, who point out that should there be a 1% false positive rate, and 1,000 people take a test with only one person being actually positive, there will be ten total positive tests meaning 90% of positives are false, but only nine out of 1,000 people would have those false positives.
The site advertised also tries to tackle “the agenda of the physical destruction and psychological imprisonment that we are facing”, particularly highlighting “COVID-19, the 5G rollout (radiation towers), vaccination programs (pro’s and con’s), the police state, the cashless society, and unlawful and unconstitutional international agreements”.
Students in York have received leaflets from Free Nation and Wake Up Yorkshire in the post, again filled with misleading and inaccurate claims as well as extended “tips” for self improvement.
When two individuals distributing leaflets were offered a chance to comment to York Vision on why they were spreading false and inaccurate claims, they simply walked away.
A University of York spokesperson said: “We encourage our students to visit our Covid information web pages for all of the latest government advice and guidance. These pages include news and updates from the University, such as information on self-isolating, coronavirus testing, and accessing health and wellbeing support services.
“Any student who feels that they have received misleading or false information about coronavirus can let us know via our Covid enquiries email address: [email protected]“