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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Conspiracy Theories & Claims


Killjoy Boffin
Apr 21, 2015
Seen a few conspiracy theories sprouting up about this new virus. Mostly about underreported numbers of infected/dead, but also the expected "It was made in a government lab!", e.g.

Yes indeed my friends this is a conspiracy. Either

a) it is a deliberate attack by China on the rest of the world


b) it is an American created virus to destabilise China and also to profit from the vaccine that Bill Gates has patented.

I can't be arsed to post links because you can all Google. But I'm guessing we will need a topic for the purpose. So pile on :)
Apparently he predicted it (or a similar flu outbreak) . I'm sorry, my internet connection is so slow - slower in fact than it was 20 years ago, thank you BT - that the primary page dealing with the theory is a wall of text that times out before I can load it.

This link (I can't open it) is debunking it, apparently. But of course to debunk something the theory already has to exist.

Okay, I'll play. :) I have had a look through my go-to conspiracy forum, and unearthed this:

What will happen when an unexpectedly virulent flu, or SARS, or Disease X—any other rapidly spreading viral infections—spreads globally causing a pandemic? How prepared are we? What do we need to do to be ready?

These are some of the questions faced by global leaders in public health, industry, and government in a pandemic preparedness exercise called Event 201. The program was a collaboration between the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the World Economic Forum, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The experts ran through a carefully designed, detailed simulation of a new (fictional) viral illness called CAPS or coronavirus acute pulmonary syndrome. This was modeled after previous epidemics like SARS and MERS.

Well no:

The experts ran through a carefully designed, detailed simulation of a new (fictional) viral illness called CAPS or coronavirus acute pulmonary syndrome. This was modeled after previous epidemics like SARS and MERS.

Zeb's emphasis. I am sure you already know but in case others don't know MERS and SARS are also coronaviruses. The reason the above mentioned scenario used a fictional coronavirus as its hypothetical epidemic is because SARS and MERS were previous serious outbreaks that threatened to become epidemics. It isn't evidence of a conspiracy, it's just a realistic scenario is unsurprisingly similar to reality.
Apparently he predicted it (or a similar flu outbreak) . I'm sorry, my internet connection is so slow - slower in fact than it was 20 years ago, thank you BT - that the primary page dealing with the theory is a wall of text that times out before I can load it.
This link (I can't open it) is debunking it, apparently. But of course to debunk something the theory already has to exist. ...

Here's the relevant excerpt from the Rolling Stone article you cited (indirectly linked through Google) ...

... Here are the most common rumors and hoaxes that have spread as a result of reports of novel coronavirus, and why such misinformation tends to spread in the midst of a public health crisis.

1) The government introduced the coronavirus in 2018, and Bill Gates was also somehow responsible.

On January 21st, QAnon YouTuber and professional shit-strirrer Jordan Sather tweeted a link to a patent for coronavirus filed by the U.K.-based Pirbright Institute in 2015. “Was the release of this disease planned?” Sather tweeted. “Is the media being used to incite fear around it? Is the Cabal desperate for money, so they’re tapping their Big Pharma reserves?” This theory quickly gained traction in many conspiracy theorist circles, with QAnon and anti-vaccine Facebook groups posting links to the patent suggesting that the government had introduced coronavirus, presumably to make money off a potential vaccine.

Adding fuel to the fire, Sather followed up by linking the Pirbright Foundation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, based on a 2019 press release announcing that the foundation would be helping to fund an unrelated project to study livestock disease and immunology. (Along with other so-called “elites,” Bill Gates is a frequent target of QAnon conspiracy theories.) His inclusion was not particularly surprising, says Renee DiResta, research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory. “Any time there is an outbreak story with a vaccine conspiracy angle, Gates is worked into it. This type of content was very similar to Zika conspiracies,” she tells Rolling Stone.

According to a Pirbright spokesperson who spoke with BuzzFeed News, the 2015 coronavirus patent was intended to facilitate the development of a vaccine for a specific type of avian coronavirus found in chickens, which have not been implicated as a potential cause of 2019-nCoV. Further, the spokesperson said that the Gates foundation did not fund the 2015 patent, thus ostensibly negating any potential connection between the billionaire and coronavirus. But that hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorists from continuing to widely speculate about his involvement, especially following the wide circulation of a 2018 Business Insider article about a presentation Gates gave at a 2018 Massachusetts Medical Society and New England Journal of Medicine event. During the discussion, Gates presented a simulation suggesting that a flu similar to the 1918 flu pandemic could kill 50 million people within six months, adding that the global public health community was unequipped to deal with the fallout of such an event.

Gates’s presentation was in the context of a wider argument that governments need to work better with the private sector to develop the technology to fight a potential pandemic. “The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war,” Gates said. To a rational person, this would clearly indicate that he was arguing for better preparedness in fighting pandemics, not gleefully anticipating a potential future one — yet on social media, the article was widely cited by conspiracy theorists as a globalist billionaire ominously predicting the engineering of a global catastrophe, for no reason other than personal profit.

SOURCE: https://www.rollingstone.com/cultur...us-china-bat-patent-conspiracy-theory-942416/

Here are the two related articles hot-linked within the excerpt:

QAnon Supporters And Anti-Vaxxers Are Spreading A Hoax That Bill Gates Created The Coronavirus

Business Insider article from 2018 about Bill Gates and a presentation on possible future panedemic:
I'm wondering how the Corona brand beer is going to fare.
It is odd that the similation experiment named the simulated flu Corona. The article is only dated December 2019

Just for the record ...

The name "coronavirus" is derived from the Latin corona and the Greek κορώνη (korṓnē, "garland, wreath"), meaning crown or halo. This refers to the characteristic appearance of virions (the infective form of the virus) by electron microscopy, which have a fringe of large, bulbous surface projections creating an image reminiscent of a royal crown or of the solar corona. This morphology is created by the viral spike (S) peplomers, which are proteins that populate the surface of the virus and determine host tropism.

I'm wondering how the Corona brand beer is going to fare.

It is odd that the similation experiment named the simulated flu Corona. The article is only dated December 2019
Because 'coronavirus' is a group of viruses that might be problematic. They just used 'Corona' as a working title.
Because 'coronavirus' is a group of viruses that might be problematic. They just used 'Corona' as a working title.
Thanks. My comment was partly tongue in cheek, but I didn't know that corona is a family of virises. I worked in a hospital accounts office when SARS occurred, but had never heard of MERS. I just thought they gave that virus a specific name like they do flues, though flues usually are called by the area in which they first started .

Agh! My stupid tablet randomly inserts words and joins words I'm typing to come up with new words. I have got to figure out how to turn off"prediction".
You'd think, if it was a biowarfare lab creation, it would be a lot more potent.
(By coincidence, just last month I was reading the Judge Dredd "chaos virus" storyline, in which a bio-engineered plague is unleashed on the city and wipes out most of the population)
Designed to cull, not kill the entire population.
Yeah, about that. Nobody in biological warfare is really of the opinion that you can properly judge how much damage a bioweapon is going to do. "Bugs" mutate. They are a two edged weapon. While they are largely untraceable, they are also far too dangerous to use.
Coronavirus due to rhino horn: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1233666/coronavirus-outbreak-latest-news-coronavirus-conspiracy-kevin-pietersen-twitter If the theory causes people to utterly condemn - no, better, painfully execute - those who hunt rhino for their horns or consume the resulting product it could be a good thing. Unintended consequences and all that.
Even if it isn't true, this is one conspiracy theory I fully support as it might end up saving a species.
I've transplanted the more mainstream commentary/updates/speculation to the (freshly renamed) 'main' thread here:

Update: This thread (your current location) is now the main thread on the COVID-19 disease.

If we could reserve this thread for the more... surprising and conspiratorial speculation, then that would be lovely.
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No. The CCP haven't been transparent at all, they have only been slightly more transparent than during their SARS debacle. The situation is far worse than they have been letting on. There are hundreds of thousands of sick people in Heibei and Wuhan, not the 2000 cases they claim, and now there are outbreaks in Beijing and it is spreading fast. Why? Because the coronavirus is most infectious during its incubation stage. That means that when you are sick with it, but not yet showing symptoms, you are at your most infectious. If I were a terrorist designing a bio-weapon, this is the first trait I would select for, as it allows the disease to breach all quarantine with ease. I certainly don't want anyone to die, but I can tell you that the CCP's handling of this is just awful, and many more people will die as a result. This might well be the CCP's Chernobyl moment.

I have been reliably informed that China's main research institute for research into infectious diseases is based in ... Wuhan.

Which is either an unfortunate co-incidence or more like the source of the outbreak.

Here's a compilation of debunked rumors and claims about the Wuhan virus outbreak, including a number of conspiracy angles ...
These Lies And Conspiracies About The Wuhan Coronavirus Are Totally False

A deadly novel coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 4,500 people and spread to 15 countries since emerging in China, has also spawned many false claims on social media.

Here's a selection of misinformation debunked by AFP's Fact Check service. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s...ple-are-spreading-about-the-wuhan-coronavirus
Israeli Analyst Says One Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory Is Less Crazy Than You Think

Unconfirmed reports suggest the Wuhan Coronavirus may be a bioweapon developed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Source: CNN
Date: 27 January, 2020

Is Coronavirus A Biological Weapon?

The Wuhan Coronavirus is believed to have originated in a wet market located in Wuhan, Hubei province. Scientists are confident that the virus originated in Wuhan because the city is the epicenter of the outbreak and has the largest number of cases. There is some controversy about how, exactly, the outbreak started.

This is were things get weird.

Wuhan is home to several major Chinese biological research labs. In particular, the city is known for the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China’s most advanced biological research lab. The Washington Times suggests that this site may be linked to a covert Chinese biological warfare program. The outlet features Danny Shoham, who claims to be a former Israeli military intelligence officer.

Shoham believes the Wuhan Institute of Virology may be helping the Chinese military with its biological warfare program. He states the following:

"Certain laboratories in the institute have probably been engaged, in terms of research and development, in Chinese (biological weapons), at least collaterally, yet not as a principal facility of the Chinese biowarfare alignment".

Shoham stops short of claiming the coronavirus leaked from the institute. Although he admits it’s possible:

"In principle, outward virus infiltration might take place either as leakage or as an indoor unnoticed infection of a person that normally went out of the concerned facility. This could have been the case with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But so far there isn’t evidence or indication for such an incident".

https://www-ccn-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.ccn.com/israeli-analyst-one-coronavirus-conspiracy-theory-less-crazy-than-you-think/?amp_js_v=a2&amp_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQCKAE=#aoh=15801942044249&referrer=https://www.google.com&amp_tf=From %1$s&ampshare=https://www.ccn.com/israeli-analyst-one-coronavirus-conspiracy-theory-less-crazy-than-you-think/
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This article is from Zerohedge a website that I find to be reasonably dodgy, at east when they write about where I live but it is nevertheless an interesting read.

In light of growing speculation, most of it within less than official circles, that the official theory for the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic, namely because someone ate bat soup at a Wuhan seafood and animal market...

... is a fabricated farce, and that the real reason behind the viral spread is because a weaponized version of the coronavirus (one which may have originally been obtained from Canada), was released by Wuhan's Institute of Virology (accidentally or not), a top, level-4 biohazard lab which was studying "the world's most dangerous pathogens", perhaps it would be a good idea for the same Wuhan Institute of Virology to remove the following "help wanted" notice, posted on November 18, 2019, according to which the institute is seeking to hire one or two post-doc fellows, who will use "bats to research the molecular mechanism that allows Ebola and SARS-associated coronaviruses to lie dormant for a long time without causing diseases."
The right candidate will:

wuhan food market.jpg

  • Have obtained or is about to obtain a PhD in life science/biomedical related fields;
  • Have a reliable and rigorous work style, with strong independent scientific research ability and teamwork spirit;
  • Have strong English communication and writing skills, have research papers published in the international mainstream academic journals
  • Have a cell biology, immunology, genomics and other relevant background experience is preferred;
The full job posting, which can still be found on the Wuhan Institute of Virology website can be found here (and screengrabbed below as it will be gone within a few hours).

And google translated:

Why is this notable? Because as it turns out, this is a job posting for the lab of Dr. Peng Zhou (周鹏), Ph.D., a researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and Leader of the Bat Virus Infection and Immunization Group. Some more on Zhou's background from the Institute (google translated):
He received his PhD in Wuhan Virus Research Institute in 2010 and has worked on bat virus and immunology in Australia and Singapore. In 2009 , he took the lead in starting the research on the immune mechanism of bat long-term carrying and transmitting virus in the world. So far, he has published more than 30 SCI articles, including the first and corresponding author's Nature , Cell Host Microbe and PNAS . At present, research on bat virus and immunology is continuing, and it has received support from the National "You Qing" Fund, the pilot project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the major project of the Ministry of Science and Technology.​
Below is a list of several recent papers published by Dr. Zhou
Which brings us to the punchline: courtesy of the Wuhan institute of virology, here is a press release from Dr. Zhou's lab titled "How bats carry viruses without getting sick":
Bats are known to harbor highly pathogenic viruses like Ebola, Marburg, Hendra, Nipah, and SARS-CoV, and yet they do not show clinical signs of disease. In a paper published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe on February 22, scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China find that in bats, an antiviral immune pathway called the STING-interferon pathway is dampened, and bats can maintain just enough defense against illness without triggering a heightened immune reaction.
"We believe there is a balance between bats and the pathogens they carry," says senior author Peng Zhou. "This work demonstrated that in order to maintain a balance with viruses, bats may have evolved to dampen certain pathways."​
In humans and other mammals, an immune-based over-response to one of these and other pathogenic viruses can trigger severe illness. For example, in humans, an activated STING pathway is linked with severe autoimmune diseases.
"In human history, we have been chasing infectious diseases one after another," says Zhou, "but bats appear to be a 'super-mammal' to these deadly viruses." By identifying a weakened but not defunct STING pathway, researchers have some new insight into how bats fine-tune antiviral defenses to balance an effective, but not an overt, response against viruses.​
The authors hypothesize that this defense strategy evolved as part of three interconnected features of bat biology: they are flying mammals, have a long lifespan, and host a large viral reservoir.
"Adaptation to flight likely caused positive selection of multiple bat innate immune and DNA damage repair genes," Zhou says. These adaptations may have shaped certain antiviral pathways (STING, interferon, and others) to make them good viral reservoir hosts and achieve a tolerable balance."​
And just in case, here is a google-translated press release from Jan 18, 2019 describing the achievements of Dr. Peng Zhou:
Wuhan has the first person in the global bat immunity research: "I rushed forward with a sword"
Changjiang Daily Financial Media May 4 hearing last month as they tied for first author made a "natural", in recent years, the Chinese Academy of Sciences Wuhan virus after 80 young researchers Zhou Peng has been in the "natural", "American Academy of Sciences ”And other international authoritative magazines published 28 papers, becoming academic stars. In an interview with reporters recently, he introduced that young scientists do not rely on genius to hold, but rely on "super confident".​
It is understood that Zhou Peng is the pioneer of global bat immune system research. "Bats carry viruses but do not get sick. They have not been researched by scientists before, and certainly have specificity different from other species, but this is like you know the beginning and Ending without knowing how the story happened. " After more than 10 years of research, Zhou Peng discovered that an antiviral immune channel called "interferon gene-stimulating protein-interferon" in the bat's body was inhibited, so that the bat could just resist the disease without triggering a strong immune response. The results were published in Cells, Hosts and Microorganisms, which aroused the attention of the academic community.
Zhou Peng, a student of undergraduate bioengineering, experienced SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in his junior year, which made him interested in the virus: "A small virus makes the world mess." He was admitted to the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences at the postgraduate level, and studied under Shi Zhengli, a bat expert. Focusing on the virus carried by the bat, then I was wondering if the bat's immune system is special. "​
After graduating from the PhD, he entered the Australian Animal Health Laboratory and became the first person in the global bat immunity research. "I went through 4 years of trial and error, groped in the dark, and hit the South Wall numerous times. I still remember a 'darkest moment' 'In the local cold winter, I was holding the frostbite knee, sitting at the beach, and asking myself why this was the case.'​
He began to learn Australian jokes and inspired himself. In 2016, during postdoctoral studies at Duke University-National University of Singapore Medical School, he was concerned that a certain interferon in bats is always maintained at a high level. This paper became the cover article of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, "Bat Immunity "This door was opened, and more and more people in the world are paying attention to this field." Our generation, when we were in college, watched "The Forrest Gump" and "Redemption of Shawshank" and taught us stupidity and perseverance. I I feel like I am carrying a sword and rushing forward. "​
After returning to China in 2016, Zhou Peng returned to his alma mater to become a little-known young researcher. "In the long run, bats carry the virus without getting sick. It is hoped that humans can learn how to fight the virus, but this is still far from industrialization. Far, the road ahead is long, and we must remain 'super confident' and continue to move forward. "(Reporter Li Jia correspondent Chen teased Li Li intern Luo Yameng)​
And here is the man, the myth, the bat-god himself: Peng Zhou.
Peng Zhou
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His bio (source):
Peng Zhou, Ph.D., researcher, team leader of bat virus infection and immunity. He successively obtained bachelor's and doctoral degrees from Henan University (2004) and Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2010). During his doctorate, he was sent to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory for study. He then carried out research work at Duke-Nus Medical College in Australia and Singapore. He has long been engaged in the research of new virus epidemiology and bat antiviral immunity, revealing that bats carry SARS, MERS, and Ebola for a long time but do not have their own immune mechanisms.​
Currently he is hosting and undertaking 3 projects of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences Special project and a major national science and technology project - a major project for the prevention and control of infectious diseases. Currently published 28 SCI papers, including Nature, Cell Host Microbe, PNAS and other articles SCI papers, including Nature, Cell Host Microbe, PNAS and other articles published by the first or corresponding author. It is at the forefront of the world in the field of bat and virus research.​
So to summarize:
  1. One of China's top virology and immunology experts was and still works at China's top-rated biohazard lab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which some have affectionately called the real Umbrella Corp.
  2. Since 2009, Peng has been the leading Chinese scientist researching the immune mechanism of bats carrying and transmitting lethal viruses in the world.
  3. His primary field of study is researching how and why bats can be infected with some of the most nightmarish viruses in the world including Ebola, SARS and Coronavirus, and not get sick.
  4. He was genetically engineering various immune pathways (such as the STING pathway in bats) to make the bats more or less susceptible to infection, in the process potentially creating a super-resistant bug.
  5. As part of his studies, Peng also researched mutant Coronavirus strains that overcame the natural immunity of some bats; these are "superbug" Coronavirus strains, which are not resistant to any natural immune pathway, and now appear to be out in the world.
  6. As of mid-November, his lab was actively hiring inexperienced post-docs to help conduct his research into super-Coronaviruses and bat infections.
  7. Peng's work on virology and bat immunology has received support from the National "You Qing" Fund, the pilot project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the major project of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
* * *
Something tells us, if anyone wants to find out what really caused the coronavirus pandemic that has infected thousands of people in China and around the globe, they should probably pay Dr. Peng a visit.
Or at least start with an email: Dr Peng can be reached at [email protected], and his phone# is 87197311.
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I dunno, there's some desperate scare-mongering going on there.
One of China's top virology and immunology experts was and still works at China's top-rated biohazard lab
Well, who do you want working in your biohazard labs, experts or trainees? But wait! What's this?
his lab was actively hiring inexperienced post-docs
Oh, they did hire trainees. Well, post-docs, anyway. Inexperienced post-docs, though. Hmm, Schroedinger's scientist: simultaneously post-doc and inexperienced.

So, yes, I grant that the existence of a Virology Institute at the epicentre of the outbreak is somewhat suspicious. Having said that, though, it might be still more unlikely if a city of 11 million people didn't have a number of research establishments - after all, Bradford only has 600 000 or so, and yet the University offers research degrees in a number of disciplines. But 2+2 doesn't necessarily = 5, even at Zerohedge's top-rated maths labs.

ETA: I just noticed they published Zhou's phone number and email. That changes my opinion of ZeroHedge - I'd simply written them off as standard tabloid sensationalists. But encouraging harassment in that way is downright despicable.
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Bergmann: Interesting stuff regarding the lab, even though it might well have no relation.