Does SARS-CoV-2 Spread Through Poop? Fact Checking the NY Times

by Jun 18, 2020Health & Vaccines, Liberty & Economy2 comments

(Photo by Karolina Grabowska, licensed under Pexels license)

The New York Times claims there’s “growing evidence” that fecal transmission of the novel coronavirus occurs, but the science says otherwise.

According to a New York Times article published on June 16, there is “growing evidence” that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) “can be passed not only through respiratory droplets, but through virus-laden feces, too.”

However, a critical examination of the Times’ own primary sources reveals that just the opposite is true: the accumulating evidence is rather that fecal transmission is unlikely.

Lying to the public like this is standard fare in the mainstream media and is transparently intended to manufacture consent for extreme political responses to the pandemic by sustaining the sense of mass fear and panic. This is certainly the effect of such bold deceptions, if not the intent.


Relying on Fraudulent Claims

Under the headline “Flushing the Toilet May Fling Coronavirus Aerosols All Over”, the Times discusses a new study whose authors used computer simulations to show that “flushing a toilet can generate a cloud of aerosol droplets that rises nearly three feet. Those droplets may linger in the air long enough to be inhaled by a shared toilet’s next user, or land on surfaces in the bathroom.”[1]

The study, authored by Yun-yun Li, Ji-Xiang Wang, and Xi Chen, was published in the journal Physics of Fluids on June 16. On its face, it does appear to support the Times’ central claim. In fact, Li et al. go even further, stating that fecal-oral transmission is “a common transmission route” for SARS-CoV-2, and that this “occurs commonly in toilet usage”.

However, the author of the Times article, Knvul Sheikh, evidently failed to verify the assertion that fecal transmission of the virus is “common” by checking the sources Li et al. cite to support it.

They cite three prior studies. First, they state that, “in March 2020, a research team from Sun Yat-Sen University found that fecal samples from some confirmed patients tested positive by nucleic acid detection, which provides evidence that SARS-CoV-2 has the possibility of fecal–oral transmission.”[2]

However, while the finding of viral RNA in feces did indicate the possibility of such transmission, it was not proof of its occurrence. As noted in a review of the evidence published in April in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, “While current studies imply that SARS-CoV-2 may be shedding through stool in at least a subset of patients, the detection of viral genetic material in stool does not necessarily indicate that viable infectious virions are present in fecal material or that the virus can or has spread through fecal transmission (e.g., fecal-oral, fecal-fomite, or fecal-aerosol/droplet).”[3]

In fact, that study by researchers from Sun Yat-Sen University in China, which was published in Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, did not show that recovered virus was viable but rather observed that “No cases of transmission via the faecal-oral route have yet been reported for SARS-CoV-2”—thus contradicting the central claim for which it was being cited.[4]

Li et al. further attempt to support their claim by asserting that both prior novel coronaviruses, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) “are characterized by fecal-oral transmission.”[5]

The implied logic is that since SARS was and MERS is spread through feces, therefore so is SARS-CoV-2. (The last reported cases of SARS were in 2004, while cases of MERS continue to be sparsely reported.) But this is a non sequitur fallacy. The conclusion does not follow from the premise.

Furthermore, the premise is false, as we can learn once again by turning to the other two sources they cite, both intended to support this aspect of their argument.

The second source they cite is a commentary published in Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, which similarly noted the finding of viral RNA in stool samples from SARS and MERS patients. Additionally, “SARS-CoV-2 RNA has been detected in the stool of a patient in the USA.”

The commentary authors also noted that there was evidence to support the notion that SARS and MERS “are viable in environmental conditions that could facilitate faecal-oral transmission.” They cited several studies related to the survival of SARS and MERS in the environment. However, only one dealt with actual shedding of virus in feces. In the one relevant study, viral RNA was “found in the sewage water of two hospitals in Beijing treating patients with SARS.”

But, again, the finding of viral RNA in fecal matter doesn’t necessarily mean that fecal transmission can occur. The commentary authors tacitly acknowledged this by noting that the finding of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in a patient’s stool sample indicated that fecal-oral transmission might be “possible”—yet remained unproven.[6]

The third and final study cited by Li et al. to support their claim that fecal transmission of SARs-CoV-2 is “common” also does not do so.[7] That study, published in Antiviral Research in 2013, only mentioned shedding of bat coronaviruses in bat feces and remarked that “shedding in feces” of common human coronaviruses, which are a common cause of the common cold, is “not uncommon”. It says nothing about this meaning that fecal transmission occurs with common human coronaviruses, and it says nothing about this being a mode of transmission for SARS, MERS, or SARS-CoV-2.[8]

In sum, the claim made by Li et al. that fecal-oral transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has been proven to be “common” is fraudulent.

Consequently, their study does not support the New York Times’ claim that there is “growing evidence” that fecal transmission occurs with SARS-CoV-2.

The patently fraudulent nature of their claim raises the question: Why would Li et al. lie? Perhaps they just did not understand that the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays used to detect SARS-CoV-2 only indicate presence of viral RNA and not necessarily infectious virus. Or perhaps they started from a conclusion that would make their own research appear more significant and hastily sought studies to support it, succumbing to confirmation bias and ignoring the underlying logical fallacy of their argument. Or perhaps they were cognizant of the fallacy and just thought they could get away with misrepresenting their own sources in order to exaggerate the importance of their work and secure continued funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.[9]

It also raises the question of how Sheikh and her editors fell for the deception. Given the controversial nature of the claim that fecal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is “common”, due journalistic diligence would demand checking the cited sources to verify that this is truly what scientific studies have shown. It’s tempting to assume that those responsible at the Times just did not do their due diligence. However, the assumption that they were themselves innocent victims of a hoax is difficult to sustain in light of how the Times article goes on to cite additional studies that completely contradict its own claims.

Lying and Misrepresenting Sources to Support the Claim

To further support its contention that there is a growing body of science indicating that fecal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs, the Times goes on to state that “researchers have found viable virus particles in patients’ feces, as well as traces of viral RNA on toilet bowls and sinks in their hospital isolation rooms, although experiments in the lab have suggested that material may be less likely to be infectious compared with virus that is coughed out.”[10]

But here the Times is itself deceiving readers because the source it cites to support the claim that “viable” SARS-CoV-2 was found in patients’ feces states just the opposite.

The source is a research letter published in JAMA in March, which did find stool samples as well as toilet bowl and sink samples to be positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA and did suggest that feces “could be a potential route of transmission.” However, contrary to the Times’ false statement, “viral culture was not done to demonstrate viability.”[11]

So how did Sheikh take away from her source that “viable” virus was found when it explicitly says otherwise? Evidently, her editors didn’t fact-check her article, and we could assume simple human error and attribute the false statement to an innocent misreading of the text. But the conclusion that this was willful deception becomes rather inescapable when we turn to the third source cited by the Times to support its central claim, hyperlinked in the latter part of the statement about finding “viable” virus.

That latter part of the sentence implies that, while less likely to be infectious than virus spread through coughs, lab experiments did show that SARS-CoV-2 shed in stools can be infectious. But this is just an extension of the same lie.

The source cited in this instance is a research article that was published in Science Immunology in May, which in fact states “that viruses released into the intestinal lumen were inactivated by simulated human colonic fluid, and infectious virus was not recovered from the stool specimens of patients with COVID-19.” (Emphasis added. Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is the name of the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.)

That is stated right in the abstract, so it would have been difficult for Sheikh to have missed. And for her to have innocently misinterpreted once might be attributable to simple human error, but twice in a row strongly suggests that she is simply not being honest with her readers.

Indeed, the research article goes on to further contradict the Times by noting that viable virus was also “not isolated from the feces of patients with COVID-19 in a recent systematic study”.[12] That study, published in Nature in April, states that “Infectious virus was readily isolated from samples derived from the throat or lung, but not from stool samples—in spite of high concentrations of virus RNA.”[13] (Emphasis added.)

While the Times cites the Science Immunology study as though complimentary to the Physics of Fluids study, it in fact demonstrates additional fraudulent claims made by Li et al. Assuming Sheikh read her own sources, it is difficult to understand how she could not have noticed the glaring contradictions, which should have sparked her curiosity to dig deeper and uncover the truth. That she obviously made no such effort strongly indicates that truth-telling was not the purpose of her article.

To illustrate, Li et al. also state that, “as common intestinal pathogens, norovirus and rotavirus can spread easily through the fecal-oral route because their main symptoms are acute diarrhea and vomiting.”[14]

But that is another non sequitur fallacy. It does not necessarily follow from the fact that symptoms of a virus include diarrhea and vomiting that therefore it is spread easily through feces.

Nevertheless, from that false premise, they take a further logical leap by saying, “It can be concluded that fecal-oral transmission is not a unique feature of the currently raging SARS-CoV-2 but a common transmission channel for most viruses.”[15]

But as the Science Immunology study cited by the Times points out, while rotavirus is indeed transmitted by the fecal-oral route, SARS-CoV-2 appears not to be.

Rather, SARS-CoV-2 “was inactivated” by “simulated human colonic fluids”, whereas rotavirus remained stable when put through the same test. The researchers reasoned that, while SARS-CoV-2 replicates in the intestinal tract, it “may then be rapidly inactivated in the lumen of the colon.” This would explain why they “were unable to recover any infectious virus”.

While their sample size was small and they could not “definitively conclude that fecal-oral transmission of COVID-19 does not occur”, they concluded that “the large quantities of viral RNA that transit through the [gastrointestinal] tract and shed into the feces may not carry substantial infectious risk.”

And whereas Li et al. stated as fact that SARS and MERS were spread via a fecal-oral route, the authors of the Science Immunology note that their own findings are “consistent with the previous reports from SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV publications, which concluded that, despite long duration of viral RNA shedding, no infectious virus could be recovered from the patients’ feces.”[16] (Emphasis added.)

They provide two references for that statement. The first is a study published in Gastroenterology in 2003, which notes that, while SARS RNA was found in feces, “viable virus is not recovered from stool samples”. This might be because, whereas coronaviruses are enveloped, “most diarrhea-associated viruses (e.g., rotavirus, calicivirus, enteric adenovirus, Norwalk virus) are nonenveloped”, and nonenveloped viruses “are generally more resistant and have a better chance of survival in the intestinal tract.”[17]

The second reference is a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in 2015, which notes that, while MERS RNA could similarly be found in stool samples, researchers “had no success in isolating infectious virus.”[18]

In sum, while the Times cites three studies to support its claim that there is “growing evidence” of fecal transmission of SARS-CoV-2, its own primary sources in fact tell us that just the opposite is true: the evidence is growing that SARS-CoV-2 does not spread through feces.

Misrepresenting the Science on Airborne Transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2

While grossly deceiving readers about fecal transmission, the Times article does offer a few helpful caveats.

The risk of exposure to infectious virus, Sheikh notes, is increased in “poorly ventilated spaces”—like public restrooms. The source cited is another Times feature with a three dimensional simulation discussing the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that people maintain six feet of social distancing when out in public.

The feature notes that the primary mode of transmission is larger respiratory droplets that travel a limited distance before falling to the ground but suggests that SARS-CoV-2 might also be spread through smaller aerosolized particles than remain suspended in the air for extended durations and can travel farther. Such aerosols can be generated not only by coughing and sneezing but also by simply talking or breathing.

“An infected person talking for five minutes in a poorly ventilated space”, the Times states, “can produce as many viral droplets as one infectious cough.” So, if there are many infected individuals in the same confined and poorly ventilated space, the viral aerosols can build up and pose a potential risk to anyone in the room who has not already been infected. (“If there are 10 people in there, it’s going to build up,” the Times quotes Pratim Biswas, “an aerosols expert at Washington University in St. Louis”, as saying.)

The Times cites this potential risk as reason to obey executive mask-wearing orders that have been implemented alongside extreme lockdown measures, concluding that “Wearing a mask can help protect yourself and others. So if you do need to leave home, wear a mask and be sure to keep your distance.”

Yet right before drawing that conclusion, the Times acknowledges that masks provide “minimal protection against inhaling the smaller droplets.”[19]

Masks only provide an effective physical barrier to larger respiratory droplets, not aerosolized particles, so unless you are in close contact with infected individuals who are coughing or sneezing, they offer little to no protection.

In fact, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) states in a technical report that “There is no evidence that non-medical face masks or face covers are an effective means of respiratory protection for the wearer of the mask.” (Emphasis added.)

Furthermore, there is a risk that “improper removal of the face mask, handling of a contaminated face mask or an increased tendency to touch the face while wearing a face mask by healthy persons might actually increase the risk of transmission.”

Transmission via aerosols from asymptomatic individuals remains a theoretical possibility only, and there is much controversy in the scientific literature about whether this occurs to any significant extent within community settings. As the ECDC notes, “The role of asymptomatic infections in transmission is unknown.”[20]

The guidance on mask use from the World Health Organization (WHO), updated on June 5, similarly notes that the primary mode of transmission is respiratory droplets such as “through coughing, sneezing or very close personal contact”. Airborne transmission, which is a term that refers to transmission via aerosols, is theoretically possible but remains unproven. Some studies have found viral RNA suggesting possible aerosol transmission, but “the presence of viral RNA is not the same as replication- and infection-competent (viable) virus that could be transmissible and capable of sufficient inoculum to initiate invasive infection.” Other studies were able to experimentally induce aerosols containing viable virus, but these used “high-powered jet nebulizers and do not reflect normal human cough conditions.”

“Current evidence”, the WHO observes, “suggests that most transmission of COVID-19 is occurring from symptomatic people to others in close contact, when not wearing appropriate [personal protective equipment].” (Emphasis added.)

Viable virus has been isolated from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals, “suggesting, therefore, that people who do not have symptoms may be able to transmit the virus to others.” However, transmissibility of the virus still “depends on the amount of viable virus being shed by a person”, as well as “whether or not they are coughing and expelling more droplets” and “the type of contact they have with others”.

“The available data, to date, on onward infection from cases without symptoms”, the WHO adds, “comes from a limited number of studies with small samples that are subject to possible recall bias and for which fomite transmission cannot be ruled out.” That is, subjects may have misrecollected whether they had symptoms at the time that transmission was thought to have occurred, or the transmission might have occurred not through respiratory droplets but direct contact with a contaminated surface. (Another potential mode of transmission is through touching an object contaminated with viable virus and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. This is known as fomite transmission.)

In its guidance for the use of masks by the general public in community settings, the WHO notes that there is evidence from some studies that either surgical or cloth masks might be effective in preventing transmission, but “these studies suggest that such individuals would need to be in close proximity to an infected person in a household or at a mass gathering where physical distancing cannot be achieved, to become infected with the virus.”

While governments have implemented universal mask-wearing orders in many jurisdictions, the WHO points out that these policies are not evidence-based: “At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.”

In addition to the lack of “high quality or direct scientific evidence” of benefits from such policies, there are potential harms to consider, including the “potential increased risk of self-contamination due to the manipulation of a face mask and subsequently touching eyes with contaminated hands”; the “potential self-contamination that can occur if non-medical masks are not changed when wet or soiled”, which “can create favourable conditions for microorganisms to amplify”, and “potential headache and/or breathing difficulties, depending on type of mask used”.

The WHO consequently recommends mask use only “in specific situations and settings” where prolonged close contact with others is unavoidable.[21]

The WHO had previously recommended mask use only for people with symptoms or who are caring for someone with COVID-19.[22] Its guidance was updated based on a systematic review of the evidence published in The Lancet on June 1, which observed that “SARS-CoV-2 spreads person-to-person through close contact and causes COVID-19. It has not been solved if SARS-CoV-2 might spread through aerosols from respiratory droplets . . . .”[23]

So, yes, there is a theoretical risk of airborne transmission in “poorly ventilated spaces” like bathrooms, but the notion being propagated by the media that you are going to get COVID-19 because you passed by an asymptomatic carrier in the grocery store aisle who happened to be breathing, or who perhaps said a few words to you while respecting your personal space, is science fiction.

Lying about the Science on Mask Effectiveness

In addition to acknowledging the ineffectiveness of masks in preventing the wearer from being infected through hypothetical aerosol transmission, the Times’ 3-D interactive also acknowledges that surgical and cloth masks, which do not form a seal around the face like properly fitted N95 respirators, do not prevent the wearer from spewing out larger respiratory droplets. A mask “captures some respiratory droplets” but otherwise merely “disrupts the trajectory”. The animation at this point in the simulation shows a person wearing a mask with droplet clouds being ejected out of the top and bottom of the mask.[24]

Coronavirus mask effectiveness

In fact, a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine in April found that “Neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered SARS-CoV-2 during coughs by infected patients.” Counterintuitively, they also found that a heavy viral load was collected on the outside of the mask, with little to no contamination on the inside, which they hypothesized was due to a “turbulent jet due to air leakage around the mask”. Consequently, “both surgical and cotton masks seem to be ineffective in preventing dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 from the coughs of patients with COVID-19 to the environment and external mask surface.”[25]

Another study, published on the pre-print (not-yet-peer-reviewed) server arXiv on May 19, examined the effect of masks on air flow and found that they produce a “potentially dangerous leakage jet” around the edges, which have the theoretical potential “to disperse virus-laden fluid particles by several metres.” Consequently, there is “a false sense of security that may arise when standing to the side of, or behind, a person wearing a surgical, or handmade mask.”[26] Here are two images from the study to help you visualize the effect:

Cough airflow dispersion by mask

Cough airflow dispersion from masks

Never minding the science, Knvul Sheikh states in her “Flushing the Toilet” article that you should “keep your mask on in the bathroom” and, in a separate article published on May 24, she boldly proclaims that “The debate over whether Americans should wear face masks to control coronavirus transmission has been settled.”[27]

The links she provides to support that opinion is to another Times feature discussing different types of masks that in turn cites not a single scientific study to support the claim for which she provides the link.[28]

In another Times article, published on June 3, Sheikh again proclaims that “The debate over whether Americans should wear face masks to control coronavirus transmission has been settled.”[29] But to support that contention, she invents a scientific consensus in place of the controversy that truly remains, as indicated by the contrary updated guidance from the WHO observing that universal mask-wearing orders are not evidence-based.

Sheikh also cites two studies to support the claim that the science has been settled in favor of such orders. But the first of those, published in Nature in April, contradicted her, noting that, far from a scientific consensus, there is “little information on the efficacy of face masks in filtering respiratory viruses and reducing viral release from an individual with respiratory infections, and most research has focused on influenza.”

Furthermore, the study found that, while no virus was recovered from the breath or coughs of mask-wearing subjects, the same was also true for most COVID-19 patients who did not wear a mask—and among the minority who did shed virus, the viral load “tended to be low”. This was true even though they collected samples for a full thirty minutes. The researchers also did not determine whether shed virus was viable.

Again contradicting the purpose for which Sheikh was citing the study, its authors concluded that “prolonged close contact would be required for transmission to occur, even if transmission was primarily via aerosols”.[30]

The logical corollary is that wearing a mask in a situation where you don’t have prolonged close contact with others is pointless.

The second study Sheikh cited to support her contention that the debate has been scientifically settled had nothing to do with SARS-CoV-2. It was an evaluation of different mask materials using non-viral particles published in 2010 in The Annals of Occupational Hygiene. Far from supporting the claim that the kinds of cloth masks Americans have been told to wear are effective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, it found that “fabric materials show only marginal filtration performance against virus-size particles when sealed around the edges.” (Emphasis added.)

As the researchers further observed, “Face seal leakage will further decrease the respiratory protection offered by fabric materials.” They did not measure leakage, “which is a critical component of respiratory protection.” Overall, they concluded that cloth masks show “poor performance” as a protective measure.[31]

The conclusion is inescapable that misrepresentation of her own sources by Sheikh is no innocent mistake but a pattern of behavior clearly demonstrating that she is more interested in producing propaganda in service to the state than in doing journalism to properly inform the public.

Returning to her more recent article on fecal transmission, she offers the additional caveat that scientists have “yet to look at toilet aerosols in real-world situations involving the new coronavirus”. But the false assumption underlying this statement remains, which is that aerosol transmission has otherwise been shown to be a significant source of spread in community settings.

To support the argument that flushing of toilets, too, is a significant means by which the virus spreads, she adds that “other research has shown that viral RNA was found in shared toilet areas at one hospital in Wuhan, China.”[32]

The link she provides is to another Times article for which she contributed reporting and which was headlined “Airborne Coronavirus Detected in Wuhan Hospitals”, which falsely implies that researchers had found that COVID-19 patients produced infectious virus-laden aerosols. Anyone not reading past the headline would be left with that false impression even though the article summary acknowledges that, “While the RNA of the virus was found in tiny droplets in China, scientists don’t know if it was capable of transmitting the virus.”[33]

The study that article was referring to was published in Nature in April. Relevant to the discussion on fecal transmission, its authors noted that their findings “suggest that toilet use by patients with COVID-19 and crowd gatherings that included individuals infected by SARS-CoV-2 are non-negligible sources of airborne SARS-CoV-2, although the infectivity of the virus is not known.”[34]

Whereas the Times would have us believe that studies have since established the infectivity of virus shed through stools, again, Sheikh’s own primary sources show that this is untrue and, further, that fecal transmission is unlikely.

A final enlightening caveat Sheikh adds toward the end of her “Flushing the Toilet” article is that “researchers do not know how much infectious virus is in aerosols or whether people with more severe cases of Covid-19 shed more virus than patients with milder illness”.[35]

This echoes the WHO guidance document as well as a review of the evidence by CDC researchers who similarly observed that “The detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in presymptomatic or asymptomatic persons does not prove that they can transmit the virus to others.”

Reports suggesting possible asymptomatic transmission were inconclusive and could not rule out transmission by other means. Other reports suggested presymptomatic transmission but still depended on there being “close contact” between primary and secondary patients. A couple of studies had also found that symptomatic and presymptomatic could shed infectious virus, but “these reports did not identify actual virus transmission”.

The reasonable conclusion is that asymptomatic transmission is “a possibility”—but it remains unproven that asymptomatic individuals are a significant source of spread in the community setting, and even if asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission occurs, prolonged close contact remains a likely prerequisite.[36]

Consequently, the WHO’s advice to wear a mask in settings where prolonged close contact is unavoidable makes sense, whereas orders for universal mask use regardless of individual circumstances are unreasonable, with the underlying assumption that asymptomatic carriers are a major source of airborne transmission remaining unsupported by scientific evidence.

As for the theoretical but unlikely possibility of SARS-CoV-2 being spread by flushing the toilet, Sheikh near the end of her article suggests sensible mitigation steps that everyone should be doing anyway: first close the lid, if there is one, before flushing; avoid touching your face; and wash your hands thoroughly.[37]


The deception perpetrated within and under the Times’ headline “Flushing the Toilet May Fling Coronavirus Aerosols All Over” is not an isolated example. Misrepresenting what science tells us in order to manufacture consent for government policies is standard fare not only for the New York Times but also for the mainstream media in general.[38]

It would be one thing if the author’s misrepresentation of a primary source was an isolated occurrence. But it occurred not just with one source but all three of the studies Knvul Sheikh cited to support her article’s argument. Furthermore, demonstrable mischaracterization of even her own sources is seen in other articles of hers, indicating a routine pattern. Consequently, it is difficult to attribute such misinformative content to anything other than willful deception.

At best, if we give her the full benefit of the doubt, the case can be made that she has convinced herself of her own propaganda and succumbed to confirmation bias, accepting information that aligns with her own predetermined beliefs while ignoring any, even from her own sources, that she’s not able to reconcile with those beliefs.

Either way, the statist New York Times is being dishonest with its readers and serving the function of manufacturing consent for lockdown and mask-wearing orders by contributing to the necessary sense of fear and panic among the public.

The takeaway lesson is to be wary of what you are told by the media because advocating government policies as opposed to doing journalism is the norm.

To avoid becoming duped by propaganda, if in doubt, it never hurts to just check cited sources. If you get into the habit of doing so, you will be amazed at how routinely primary source materials not only do not support but directly contradict the purpose for which they are being cited.

And that holds true not only for the major media but for peer-reviewed “science”, too, as this case also usefully illustrates.


[1] Knvul Sheikh, “Flushing the Toilet May Fling Coronavirus Aerosols All Over”, New York Times, June 16, 2020,

[2] Yun-yun Li, Ji-Xiang Wang, and Xi Chen, “Can a toilet promote virus transmission? From a fluid dynamics perspective”, Physics of Fluids, June 16, 2020,

[3] E. Susan Amirian, “Potential fecal transmission of SARS-CoV-2: Current evidence and implications for public health”, International Journal of Infectious Diseases, April 23, 2020,

[4] Yongjian Wu et al., “Prolonged presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in faecal samples”, Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, March 20, 2020,

[5] Li et al.

[6] Charleen Yeo, Sanghvi Kaushal, and Danson Yeo, “Enteric involvement of coronaviruses: is faecal–oral transmission of SARS-CoV-2 possible?” Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, February 19, 2020,

[7] Li et al.

[8] Jan Felix Drexler, Victor Max Corman, Christian Drosten, “Ecology, evolution and classification of bat coronaviruses in the aftermath of SARS”, Antiviral Research, October 31, 2013,

[9] Li et al. See the “Acknowledgments” section for funding information.

[10] Sheikh, “Flushing the Toilet”.

[11] Sean Wei Xiang Ong et al., “Air, Surface Environmental, and Personal Protective Equipment Contamination by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) From a Symptomatic Patient”, JAMA, March 4, 2020.

[12] Ruochen Zang et al., “TMPRSS2 and TMPRSS4 promote SARS-CoV-2 infection of human small intestinal enterocytes”, Science Immunology, May 13, 2020,

[13] Roman Wölfel et al., “Virological assessment of hospitalized patients with COVID-2019”, Nature, April 1, 2020,

[14] Li et al.

[15] Li et al.

[16] Zang et al.

[17] Wai K Leung et al., “Enteric involvement of severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus infection”, Gastroenterology, October 2003,

[18] Victor M. Corman, “Viral Shedding and Antibody Response in 37 Patients With Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Infection”, Clinical Infectious Diseases, November 12, 2015,

[19] Yuliya Parshina-Kottas et al., “This 3-D Simulation Shows Why Social Distancing Is So Important”, New York Times, April 14, 2020,

[20] European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, “Using face masks in the community”,, April 8, 2020,

[21] World Health Organization, “Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19”,, June 5, 2020,

[22] World Health Organization, “Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19”,, April 6, 2020,

[23] Derek K Chu et al., “Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis”, The Lancet, June 1, 2020,

[24] Parshina-Kottas et al.

[25] Seongman Bae et al., “Effectiveness of Surgical and Cotton Masks in Blocking SARS–CoV-2: A Controlled Comparison in 4 Patients”, Annals of Internal Medicine, April 6, 2020,

[26] I. M. Viola et al., “Face Coverings, Aerosol Dispersion and Mitigation of Virus Transmission Risk”, arXiv, May 19, 2020,

[27] Knvul Sheikh, “You’re Getting Used to Masks. Will You Wear a Face Shield?”, New York Times, May 24, 2020,

[28] Tara Parker-Pope et al., “Coronavirus: Which Mask Should You Wear?” New York Times, April 17, 2020,

[29] Knvul Sheikh, “You should be wearing a mask.”, featured in “Six Months of Coronavirus: Here’s Some of What We’ve Learned”, New York Times, June 3, 2020,

[30] Nancy H. L. Leung et al., “Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks”, Nature Medicine, April 3, 2020,

[31] Samy Rengasamy, Benjamin Eimer, and Ronald E. Shaffer, “Simple Respiratory Protection—Evaluation of the Filtration Performance of Cloth Masks and Common Fabric Materials Against 20–1000 nm Size Particles”, The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, October 2010,

[32] Sheikh, “Flushing the Toilet”.

[33] Kenneth Chang, “Airborne Coronavirus Detected in Wuhan Hospitals”, New York Times, April 28, 2020,

[34] Yuan Liu et al., “Aerodynamic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in two Wuhan hospitals”, Nature, April 27, 2020,

[35] Sheikh, “Flushing the Toilet”.

[36] Nathan W. Furukawa, John T. Brooks, and Jeremy Sobel, “Evidence Supporting Transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 While Presymptomatic or Asymptomatic” (early release in advance of print), Emerging Infectious Diseases, May 4, 2020,

[37] Sheikh, “Flushing the Toilet”.

[38] For just a few additional examples I’ve documented of deceptions from the New York Times, see my articles: “New York Times Laughably Lies That the Mask Debate Is ‘Settled’”,, June 5, 2020, “NY Times Deceives about the Odds of Dying from Measles in the US”,, January 23, 2020, “How the Media Lie about Why Parents Don’t Vaccinate”,, October 17, 2019, “Should You Get the Flu Shot Every Year? Don’t Ask the New York Times.”,, February 7, 2018, For just a few examples I’ve documented from other major media sources, see: “Facebook “Fact Check” Lies about COVID-19 Fatality Rate”,, June 2, 2020, “Fact Check: WHO Scientist Caught Lying to Public about Vaccine Safety”,, February 11, 2020, “Lena Sun, the Washington Post’s Resident Vaccine Propagandist”,, November 21, 2019, Many additional examples can be found on my website.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

By recognizing when we are being lied to and why, we can fight effectively for liberty, peace, and justice, in order to create a better world for ourselves, our children, and future generations of humanity.

Please join my growing community of readers!


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  1. Nad

    Jeremy, this is a fantastic critique of this propaganda piece. Your dedication, diligence and determination to espouse the truth is to be admired and applauded; I do both sir, I do both. Thank you.


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