A viral image suggests that the omicron COVID-19 variant was known before public health authorities announced they had discovered it.
The image, shared without comment by a user on Facebook, asks incredulously:
“Can someone please explain this to me? The Omicron came out this year right? So how come the copyright on this book is 2020?”
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The image refers to a listing on Amazon, where the book’s publication date is listed as Dec. 5, 2021 — weeks after omicron’s discovery was announced. We could find no record of the book coming out in 2020.
Omicron first surfaced in November in several southern African nations. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says omicron may spread more easily than other variants, but the “severity of illness and death associated with this variant is unclear.”
Below the text in the viral image is a screenshot of what appears to be an Amazon page from the United Kingdom showing a book cover with this title: Understanding Omicron Variant: All You Need to Know About OMICRON VARIANT, Where It Comes From Answers To Questions You Have And Lots More Update To Keep You Well Informed.
The author is listed as Dr. Theresa Bishop. She writes in the description of the book that she “conducted many studies on the COVID-19 virus,” but no other professional or biographical information for her is listed.
A comment on the Facebook post included a link to the Amazon page for the 106-page book, which was self-published. That page shows the publication date as Dec. 5, 2021.
No book with that title comes up in a search of the International Standard Book Number database.
A fact-check by Logically.ai said a free sample of the text listed a copyright of December 2020. We didn’t find such a sample.
The Kindle version of the book, produced Dec. 15, includes a sample of the text, which begins with: “Many parts of Omicron are being studied widely all across the globe, and we will keep sharing the results of this research as they become available.” That sample doesn’t list a copyright or publication date.
Another viral image, posted on Facebook on Dec. 19, makes a similar claim. It asks: “If the new scariant was only found in South Africa” on Nov. 24 and named omicron by the World Health Organization two days later, how could more than 30 books on it available on Amazon have been published between Nov. 27 and Dec. 2?
Unlike books produced by commercial publishers, self-published books can be produced rapidly. Amazon says that its publishing takes less than five minutes.
We rate the post False.