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In this Sept. 16, 2021, file photo, a Pre-K teacher  instructs her students in a Palisades Park, New Jersey classroom. (AP) In this Sept. 16, 2021, file photo, a Pre-K teacher  instructs her students in a Palisades Park, New Jersey classroom. (AP)

In this Sept. 16, 2021, file photo, a Pre-K teacher instructs her students in a Palisades Park, New Jersey classroom. (AP)

Gabrielle Settles
By Gabrielle Settles May 12, 2022

The adenovirus was not developed to kill kids, nor is it a combination of viruses including COVID-19

If Your Time is short

  • Adenoviruses are not new, nor have they been “developed.” They are a group of viruses that cause common infections, ranging from mild colds to more serious illnesses like pneumonia.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked it as a possible cause for the recent outbreak of hepatitis cases in children, and is investigating the growing number of cases.

A video posted on Facebook raised the alarm about a virus that may have caused severe illness in children.

The video, which originated on TikTok, showed a CNBC headline about recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "CDC says adenovirus may have caused Alabama outbreak of severe hepatitis in children." Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. 

A woman in the video pointed to the headline and said, "So while y’all are getting distracted, they’ve developed this … An adenovirus is a combination of viruses — gastrointestinal virus, ok, pneumonia, and COVID-19, mixed together to create a very deadly virus to kill our children." 

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 claim misconstrues what adenovirus really is —, and the notion that it was created to kill children is false. 

Her explanation of adenoviruses is misleading and seems to suggest it has been "developed" with the purpose of killing children. That’s not the case.


Adenoviruses are common and aren’t new. Medical organizations such as the CDC and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles describe them this way: They’re a group of viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms or a variety of common infections, such as the common cold. Pink eye is also classified as an adenovirus. 

Adenovirus can also result in more serious cases, like pneumonia or bronchitis. The CDC has linked it as a possible cause for the cases of sick children in Alabama. In a recent report, the agency noted that nine children admitted to a hospital between October-November 2021 had severe cases of "hepatitis and adenovirus viremia." 

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"Adenovirus was detected in whole blood specimens from all patients by real-time PCR testing," the CDC said in its report. 

Public health officials have said that the Alabama cases bear similarity to cases of hepatitis that have been reported in other countries. The CDC said during a May 5 media briefing that it was investigating 109 cases of hepatitis of unknown cause in 25 states over the course of seven months  — out of those, five children had died. 

While this is serious, none of this proves that the adenovirus was created.

We fact-checked a similar claim in April that said hepatitis outbreaks were tied to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which is a viral vector vaccine that uses an adenovirus. Officials from the World Health Organization and the UK Health Security Agency debunked that claim, reporting that the vast majority of children who were infected did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, the J&J shot is not authorized for anyone under 18. 

Our ruling

In light of the recent hepatitis cases in children that may be tied to adenoviruses, a Facebook video claims that the outbreak was developed by mixing gastrointestinal virus, pneumonia, and COVID-19 in order to kill children.

Adenoviruses are not new, nor have they been developed to kill children. They are a group of viruses that cause common infections, ranging from mild colds to pneumonia.

We rate this claim False.

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More by Gabrielle Settles

The adenovirus was not developed to kill kids, nor is it a combination of viruses including COVID-19

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