In October, Dr. Francis Collins announced he would be stepping down as director of the National Institutes of Health. Collins is the longest-serving director of the NIH, having served for 12 years under three different presidents.
On Dec. 14, a video was shared across social media showing a clip of Collins singing his own cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but his version was titled, “Somewhere Past the Pandemic.” The video appears to be taken during an official town hall hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
On Twitter, users were sharing the video and some wondered if it was real or a “deepfake.” A deepfake is when an image or recording of a person has been sophisticatedly altered to appear real.
One video shared along with the claim had more than 320,000 views as of Dec. 15.
Was NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins actually filmed singing a song called “Somewhere Past the Pandemic” at a town hall?
Yes, Dr. Francis Collins did sing his own cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” at a town hall on Dec. 14, hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
WHAT WE FOUND
Dr. Francis Collins, the outgoing director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was featured in an unlisted YouTube video shared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). When a video is unlisted on YouTube, only those with the link can view or share, and it’s not publicly searchable.
In the video from an official town hall meeting, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra thanked Collins for his service at the NIH.
At the 6-minute mark, after Becerra thanked him, Collins picked up a guitar and sang a cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” changing the lyrics to “Somewhere Past the Pandemic.”
This wasn’t the first time Collins sang this song. On Nov. 4, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences posted a video to YouTube of him crooning his cover.
Collins has also performed other covers in order to promote health during the pandemic - his cover of “Puff the Magic Dragon” had more than 24,000 views on the NIH YouTube channel.
Dr. Larry Tabak will take on the role of NIH interim director on Dec. 20.