Culture

A Doctor Has Shut Down The Viral Video That Claims Coronavirus Turns Your Blood Purple

"He thinks it's cute (satire) but actually it's horrible misinformation that I equate to yelling 'fire' in a crowded movie theatre."

Purple blood corona virus fake

Dressed in a lab coat and gloves, Mitch Wright uploaded a TikTok comparing the blood of a healthy patient and that of “patient zero”.

On two paper towels with labels scribbled in pen, Mitch dropped a trail of red blood and purple liquid. His video claimed that the purple blood was from a coronavirus victim that he had “treated” the day prior.

Looking at the vial of liquid, Mitch quickly expressed concern. “That doesn’t look right to me, something’s not good about that blood,” he said. That’s because the liquid that Mitch made people believe to be blood was actually just waste from the laboratory’s gram stain tray.

However, Mitch’s implication that he had treated a patient with coronavirus instilled fear in people online. The idea that the illness could make your blood turn purple was shared to Twitter by @kellybadbuttt. “This shit is not a joke. Carry your hand sanitiser and wet wipes. Please cover your fucking mouth,” Kelly tweeted.

The tweet gained over 100,000 likes and over 40,000 retweets as people began believing Mitch’s “medical test”. But while some were convinced that purple blood was an effect of the coronavirus, others quickly called out Mitch for his obviously fake video.

Many pointed that Mitch wasn’t wearing any safety equipment while handling the blood. Beyond this, the “blood samples” being placed on a regular paper towel with pen ink scribbled on top didn’t seem very believable or reliable. Not to mention that Mitch, an American, had claimed to be treating patient zero — the first carrier of a disease — despite the outbreak starting in Wuhan, China.

“But I Said It Was Satire!”

After Kelly’s tweet went viral, New York-based medical professional Dr. Mike Varshavski shared his distain for the spread of misinformation. “This is trash,” Dr Varshavski tweeted. “He thinks it’s cute (satire) but actually it’s horrible misinformation that I equate to yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theatre.”

This continued spread of misinformation about coronavirus has caused confusion in people who are fearful of contracting the illness.

Worst of all, as these myths continue to circulate online, racism has become a huge issue thanks to a lack of understanding around the disease. This misinformation has been proven to have dire consequences, as was the case with the Sydney man who died after no one performed CPR on him in fear of coronavirus.

Following the backlash, Mitch tried to explain that he had always presented the video as fake. Apparently only done for a school project on how to make posts go viral, Mitch claimed he tagged the video #satire on TikTok.

“It is 100% fake and I thought people would know that it was apparent. I tagged satire in the description and said it was fake,” Mitch tweeted. “People don’t see that though. They are quick to believe and judge.”

However since the video has blown up, Mitch said that TikTok removed all his content from the video sharing app. A representative from TikTok told Junkee that these videos, which contained harmful misinformation, were removed as they violated community guidelines.

But according to Mitch’s latest video, he doesn’t really care about what he’s done or what people think about him. “Much love to my supporters out there. Haters you cool too,” he caption his TikTok.

While Mitch and many others online mislead the public with fearmongering through misinformation, some are actually using TikTok to share vital information about coronavirus. For example, @freshlilyli has been using her account to share information on the status of China and has been providing tips on preventing the spread of the disease.

Update: 31/01/2020

A spokesperson from TikTok explained why Mitch Wright’s videos were removed from the platform. “Our Community Guidelines do not permit misinformation that could cause harm to our community or the larger public,” a spokesperson told Junkee. “While we encourage our users to have respectful conversations about the subjects that matter to them, we remove deliberate attempts to deceive the public.”