This report is the result of a collaboration between independent fact checking organisations across five European countries: Pagella Politica and Facta in Italy, Maldita.es in Spain, Full Fact in the UK, Correctiv in Germany and Agence France-Presse in France.
It looks at articles published by those five fact checkers over the months of March and April 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic spread across Europe and large-scale public health measures were imposed. In total 645 articles relating to Covid-19 (and the social and political issues around the outbreak) were published by the five organisations.
This total also includes more general articles that do not have a specific fact check or debunking element (for example, explanatory articles about the science behind the virus, or about the various rules of lockdown in each country).
This report examines common themes in Covid-19 misinformation (as well as claims that are currently unevidenced, rather than outright false) that have emerged across most or all of the five countries. It also highlighst some areas where the topics of misinformation diverge, with a theme that has prominence in one or two countries not being reflected in the others.
This is not to suggest that every inaccurate, unevidenced or misleading claim about Covid-19 and the pandemic has been fact checked, or that every theme is included in this report. The landscape of evidence has changed rapidly over the last few months. Fact checkers also work on limited resources and do not have the capacity to check everything that we see. Rather this report and the fact checks it analyses are an attempt to capture the most viral and potentially harmful claims fact checkers came across in the early months of 2020.