Flora Teoh

Science Editor

Flora obtained a PhD in Biological Sciences from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. During her doctoral studies, she examined how a human-colonising microbe could evolve in response to changes within a mammalian host, and how this process could influence microbial virulence. After a brief stint as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, she joined Health Feedback in 2018 as science editor.

The Science Feedback team

ARTICLE REVIEWS

New York Post article makes speculative, unsupported claim that mutation could enable the virus causing COVID-19 to evade handwashing and mask-wearing

in New York Post, by Jackie Salo

— 08 Oct 2020

"The preprint that the article focuses on actually says nothing about the most egregious claim made in the article: that the virus is evolving to get around hand-washing, masks, et..

Telegraph article describing the hypothesis that face masks can variolate a population receives mixed reviews on its scientific accuracy

in The Telegraph, by Georgina Hayes

— 24 Sep 2020

"The Telegraph headline is obviously misleading but the subheading is accurate. Masks don’t give immunity; rather, the argument is that infections are milder or asymptomatic and ..

Potential role for T cells in COVID-19 immunity accurately reported in National Geographic article

in National Geographic, by Carrie Arnold

— 19 Aug 2020

"The article accurately discusses the recent findings about the presence/relevance of T cell response against COVID-19. Indeed, both arms of adaptive immunity, humoral and cellular..

People who do not show symptoms can contribute to significant COVID-19 transmission, contrary to CNBC report

in CNBC, by William Feuer, Noah Higgins-Dunn

— 10 Jun 2020

there is already “abundant data” showing that people who are not showing symptoms—which could include asymptomatic, presymptomatic, and paucisymptomatic individuals—compris...

COVID-19 vaccine candidate by Pittsburgh scientists show promising results in animal studies, but clinical trials still needed before efficacy in humans is known

in Pittsburgh Magazine, by Garret Roberts

— 11 Apr 2020

Scientists who reviewed this article’s scientific credibility found that the reporting was generally accurate. However, they also highlighted a missed opportunity to provide read...

Viral New York Post article perpetuates the unfounded claim that the virus that causes COVID-19 is manmade

in New York Post, by Steven W. Mosher

— 02 Mar 2020

Overall, Mosher’s argument is based on unfounded speculation and scientific inaccuracies. Such claims, which continue to be perpetuated even by public officials, have real-world ...

New York Times accurately reports vaccine-derived polio outbreaks caused by low vaccine coverage

in New York Times, by Associated Press

— 02 Dec 2019

"The content of the article is correct: attenuated polio strain type 2 contained in the oral vaccine can – in very rare cases – mutate and cause disease in under-immunized pers..

Daily Mail article misleads with clickbait headline claiming cowpox-derived virus will “kill every type of cancer”

in Daily Mail, by Zoe Zaczek

— 20 Nov 2019

"This article substantially overhypes early pre-clinical work with a viral therapy that has not yet been tested in even the earliest stages of human clinical trials. The headline i..

Washington Post article provides accurate and insightful report on recent spate of vaping-related illnesses

in Washington Post, by Lena H. Sun and Lindsey Bever

— 13 Sep 2019

"At the moment, it is not possible to know if these pulmonary diseases are related to propylene glycol, glycerol, nicotine, flavorings, or more likely, synthetic/natural drugs some..

The Atlantic provides accurate summary of research on gut microbiome, hypothesizes well-reasoned potential benefits of consuming fresh produce

in The Atlantic, by James Hamblin

— 02 Sep 2019

"The article provides a well balanced discussion of current knowledge surrounding the gut microbiota and benefits of eating whole foods. The author could have provided more details..

CLAIM REVIEWS

Claims that flu cases are used to inflate COVID-19 case counts are misleading, based on inaccurate numbers

CLAIM
“Flu cases down by 95%” between 2019 and 2020 for the weeks 40 to 41; flu is being diagnosed as COVID-19, leading to fewer flu cases being recorded

SOURCE: Facebook users, Facebook

Published: 22 Oct 2020

VERDICT

No evidence that coronavirus genetic sequences were fabricated, contrary to preprint by Li-Meng Yan and colleagues

CLAIM
Fabricated genetic sequences were used to support the hypothesis that the virus arose naturally

SOURCE: Li-Meng Yan, Zenodo, Zero Hedge, The National Pulse

Published: 16 Oct 2020

VERDICT

Mask use does not increase risk of COVID-19 as viral social media posts claim

CLAIM
More people who wear masks become sick with COVID-19 compared to non-mask wearers, therefore masks don’t work or are making us ill

SOURCE: Jordan Davidson, The Federalist

Published: 14 Oct 2020

VERDICT

The flu shot is an effective measure to protect people from flu, and enhances protection when used with face masks

CLAIM
“Seriously if the ‘mask’ protects me and you from [COVID-19] and we've been walking around in them for months, why would anyone need a flu shot right now?”

SOURCE: Facebook users, Facebook

Published: 05 Oct 2020

VERDICT

The total number of COVID-19 deaths thus far exceeds the number of abortions over two days worldwide

CLAIM
“More babies will die by abortion in two days than all the coronavirus deaths thus far”

SOURCE: Facebook users, Facebook

Published: 30 Sep 2020

VERDICT

COVID-19 has caused many deaths due to high virus transmission, despite its relatively small infection fatality ratio

CLAIM
COVID-19 mortality rates are very low, therefore COVID-19 is not an important public health concern; if you are 70+ years old, you have a 0.054% chance of dying from COVID-19

SOURCE: Facebook users, Facebook, Fox News

Published: 29 Sep 2020

VERDICT

Tuberculosis, the flu, and COVID-19 differ in disease prevalence and burden, requiring different public health responses

CLAIM
“Why don’t we wear masks for [tuberculosis]? Because CNN hasn’t instructed you to.”

SOURCE: Facebook users, Facebook

Published: 21 Sep 2020

VERDICT

Cloth masks are effective at reducing virus transmission because it spreads in respiratory droplets, which are larger than smoke particles and the pores in fabric

CLAIM
Cloth masks cannot block smoke particles which are larger than viruses, so masks cannot stop virus transmission

SOURCE: Facebook users, Facebook

Published: 15 Sep 2020

VERDICT

Misinterpreted New York Times report leads to false claim that the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is inflated by up to 90%

CLAIM
COVID-19 case numbers are inflated due to PCR test sensitivity; “90% of positive COVID-19 tests should be negative”

SOURCE: Liz Wheeler, Steve Deace, One America News Network, The Blaze

Published: 10 Sep 2020

VERDICT

COVID-19 test kits were not purchased in 2017 and 2018; claim is based on mislabeled data

CLAIM
“World Bank website shows COVID-19 testing kits purchased by countries in 2017 and in 2018”

SOURCE: Anonymous, Ben Swann, 4chan, Facebook

Published: 08 Sep 2020

VERDICT

INSIGHTS

“Plandemic: Indoctornation” video rehashes debunked claims and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines

— 20 Aug 2020

Plandemic is a pseudo-documentary produced by American filmmaker Mikki Willis, whose first instalment was published in May 2020. Featuring an interview with anti-vaccination activi...

Computing Forever interview with Dolores Cahill contains numerous inaccuracies about COVID-19 and vaccines

— 22 May 2020

This video, first published on 11 May 2020, features an interview between Dave Cullen, also known as Computing Forever on YouTube, and Dolores Cahill, a professor at University Col...

“Plandemic” vignette featuring anti-vaccination activist Judy Mikovits contains numerous false and unsupported claims about COVID-19

— 08 May 2020

This video is the first in a series of vignettes preceding a movie titled “Plandemic”. First published on 5 May 2020, it quickly went viral on Facebook, with more than 2.2 mill...

Did the COVID-19 virus originate from a lab or nature? Examining the evidence for different hypotheses of the novel coronavirus’ origins

— 24 Apr 2020

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in December 2019, many hypotheses have been advanced to explain where the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) actually came from. Initial re...

Do radio waves from mobile devices cause cancer? A look at the evidence

— 08 Apr 2019

Mobile phones have become an integral part of our lives, and most people would not consider even leaving the house without one. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has est...

How we know vaccines don’t cause autism – and why this belief persists

— 26 Mar 2019

The claim that “vaccines cause autism” first received its scientific backing by Andrew Wakefield’s now-retracted study in The Lancet, published in 1998. The study...

The Most Popular Health Articles of 2018, a Scientific Credibility Review

— 28 Jan 2019

News about health and medicine touch the lives of many people, therefore they often become highly circulated on the Internet. Many of these articles achieve viral status, but how m...