As the world fights the pandemic, we’re also grappling with an “infodemic”.
At the time of publication, there has been over 27 million cases of the coronavirus worldwide and nearly 900,000 deaths. Yet, there are portions of the population who question whether the pandemic is even real.
In late March, when the world was frantically reconciling with the early stages of the once-in-a-century public health crisis, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus referred to the “infodemic” to explain how fake news “spreads faster and more easily than this virus.”
Whilst conspiracy theorists have largely become an inevitable part of any major event, you can’t leave them to go unquestioned. Even the leader of the free world, President Donald Trump, has disseminated false information, including suggesting the injection of disinfectant might cure coronavirus, amongst other bizarre claims.
Here are four of the biggest conspiracy theories about coronavirus. And why they're bullshit.
Pandemic or plandemic?
In May, filmmaker Mikki Willis published a 26 minute video titled ‘Plandemic: The Hidden Agenda Behind COVID-19’ which claimed the world’s elites - Bill Gates chief among them - were leveraging coronavirus to gain profit and power.
Within a week of being published on Facebook, Youtube and Vimeo, it had attracted over eight million views.
The video championed Judy Mikovits, who was fired from her job as the head of a research institute and whose research paper on chronic fatigue syndrome was discredited. In the film, Mikovits asserts that those who claim to be protecting the global population are instead plotting to gain political control by enforcing globally mandated vaccinations.
"The game is to prevent the therapies until everyone is infected and push the vaccine, knowing that the flu vaccines increase the odds by 36 per cent of getting COVID-19," she states in the documentary.
There is no evidence to suggest that the flu vaccine increases your chances of getting the coronavirus.
Mikovits' claim completely misrepresents the findings of a study by the US Department of Defence in 2017, which looked into whether the flu vaccine could increase the chances of contracting other viruses. The study ultimately found that there was "little to no evidence supporting the association of virus interference and influenza vaccination".
The study was also conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning any claims linking COVID-19 to the study are entirely false and unfounded.