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Instagram posts
stated on December 15, 2020 in an Instagram post:
An Austrian politician “exposed the defectiveness of the government’s Covid-19 tests by demonstrating how even a glass of Coca Cola will test positive for Covid-19.”
true false
Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde December 17, 2020

Austrian politician goofed in testing Coca-Cola sample for COVID-19

If Your Time is short

  • An Austrian politician placed a sample of Coke on a rapid test for COVID-19 antibodies and said it tested positive. 

  • The company that makes the test said that the result isn’t surprising — because the politician didn’t do the test correctly. He left out a key step that would have yielded a negative result.

  • The politician did not prove that the testing device is defective.

An Instagram post is promoting the claim of an Austrian politician who argued that COVID-19 tests were junk because even a sample of Coca-Cola tested positive for the disease.

"Austrian parliamentary member Michael Schnedlitz just exposed the defectiveness of the government’s Covid-19 tests by demonstrating how even a glass of Coca Cola will test positive for Covid-19," said the Dec. 15 Instagram post. The post includes a picture of Schnedlitz and an inset picture of a can of Coca-Cola and what is purported to be a COVID-19 rapid test device.

This 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.)

We found that the politician did conduct the test on a kit meant for testing blood samples for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, and he said it yielded a positive result. But Dialab, the Austrian company that makes the rapid tests, said that happened because Schnedlitz didn’t handle or execute the test properly. Guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for similar rapid tests supports Dialab’s explanation.

Schnedlitz’s test

Schnedlitz posted a video on his Facebook page showing him dabbing a swab into a glass with a dark liquid and then gently tapping that swab on a COVID-19 rapid test device. Minutes later, he lifts the testing device and says that there is a positive result (according to YouTube’s auto-generated English captions of his speech in German).

The caption for the Dec. 10 video (translated from German to English by Facebook) said: "Today I did a corona test live in Parliament. The corona mass tests are worthless! This also showed a simple experiment in Parliament where a Coke got a positive result!" Schnedlitz’ post argued that the government was wasting taxpayer money on the tests.

"Today I proved in Parliament how moronic the government's corona mass tests are," Schnedlitz said in a follow-up Facebook post, according to the translated version.

Dialab says Schnedlitz did the test wrong

While Schnedlitz may have gotten a positive result, his conclusion about the tests isn’t supported, Dialab said, because his method was wrong. Had the test been conducted properly, the result would have been negative, Dialab said in a Facebook post, according to Facebook’s German to English translation.

Featured Fact-check

One error Schnedlitz made is that he did not add a buffer to the Coke "sample" before testing it. "In a properly executed test, the sample is always swirled first in a liquid (buffer) that keeps the pH constant," the company wrote.

COVID-19 tests should also be conducted by hospital staff or people trained to administer them, Dialab said. Dialab’s Facebook post included a video of a test on a sample of Coke — treated first with a buffer — and it yielded a negative result.

Dialab on its website lists its COVID-19 testing products, including the type used by Schnedlitz. That type of test seeks to detect COVID-19 IgG and IgM antibodies in serum, plasma or whole blood samples.

PolitiFact reviewed instructions for some COVID-19 IgG and IgM rapid tests that have been given emergency use authorization by the FDA in the United States. Those instructions call for the use of a buffer in the testing procedure. That aligns with Dialab’s explanation of how its test works.

Our ruling

An Instagram post said, "Austrian parliamentary member Michael Schnedlitz just exposed the defectiveness of the government’s Covid-19 tests by demonstrating how even a glass of Coca Cola will test positive for Covid-19."

Schnedlitz did place a sample of Coke on a rapid test for COVID-19 antibodies and said it tested positive. But the company that makes the test said that isn’t surprising — because Schnedlitz didn’t do the test correctly. He left out a key step that would have yielded a negative result.

Schnedlitz proved not that the testing device is defective, but rather that he did the test incorrectly.

We rate the Instagram post False.

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Austrian politician goofed in testing Coca-Cola sample for COVID-19

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