The Craziest COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories

Not everyone has a firm grasp of the scientific method.
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    Engineers understand and work by the scientific method every day, and hopefully we can rationally follow a chain of events without involving any magical thinking.

    However, the internet continues to be a breeding ground for silly conspiracy theories, with the COVID-19 pandemic now the latest topic of interest for these theorists who may be less familiar with the scientific method. 

    While the origins and solutions of COVID-19 are solidly understood and follow the expectations epidemiologists have been explaining for years, the seemingly abrupt rise of the virus has unsettled people, so they are looking for answers that make sense to them, even if these answers don’t make sense to anyone else because they are irrational and/or demonstrably untrue or physically impossible.

    Some of our favorites in the current COVID-19 conspiracy hall of shame include the following:

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    5G Data Networks Did It

    YouTube and Facebook have had to remove posts claiming that there is no COVID-19 virus and the symptoms are caused by the radiation from 5G cellular data networks. Enraged believers have set fire to cellular network facilities in Britain and Europe in an apparent bid to stop the pandemic at its source. Alas, non-ionizing radio broadcasts are harmless and are not able to cause the symptoms victims are experiencing.

  • Melinda and Bill Gates visit Bihar, India. Image source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Prashant Panjiar

    Bill Gates Did It

    Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has toiled relentlessly through the  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce disease and has especially targeted HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and polio in developing nations. These places are also frequent hotspots of new epidemics, and with that background, Gates spoke to the Massachusetts Medical Society and New England Journal of Medicine. He described a simulation suggesting that a flu similar to the 1918 flu pandemic could kill 50 million people within six months in a bid to spur preparation. Instead, now that speech is seen as foretelling of his plans to launch such a pandemic himself.

    Rolling Stone magazine reported that Renee DiResta, research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory explained the conspiracy community’s fixation on Gates. “Any time there is an outbreak story with a vaccine conspiracy angle, Gates is worked into it,” she said. “This type of content was very similar to Zika conspiracies.”

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    A Chinese Biological Weapons Lab Did It

    The Chinese government maintains its virus research lab in Wuhan because of its proximity to likely hotspots for viral outbreaks. This proximity has led people, including Senator Tom Cotton to speculate that the COVID-19 virus originated in that lab. While the Chinese government has been consistently opaque on this issue, like so many others, the mechanism for zoonotic diseases to jump from animals to humans is well understood by epidemiologists, if not U.S. Senators. 

    “Absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered,” said, Rutgers University professor of chemical biology, Richard Ebright, told The Washington Post. “The possibility this was a deliberately released bioweapon can be firmly excluded,” he stated.

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    A Meteor Did It

    Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of the Buckingham Centre in Britain hypothesized that an October 11, 2019 meteor that burned up over China carried an alien virus that has subsequently spread via the prevailing winds.

    He says that most of the cases are within similar latitudes, where the wind would have naturally carried the virus from the meteor. However, as with the bioweapon theory, the makeup of the COVID-19 virus is very familiar to epidemiologists and is not something that appears to have any exotic origins.

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    The Government Is Withholding a Vaccine

    A January Facebook post of a patent filed by the Centers for Disease Control for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which is a coronavirus like COVID-19, mislabeled this application as for the current pandemic virus. While there was a patent application, so far there is no vaccine for any coronavirus, including the COVID-19 virus.

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    The Covid-19 Vaccine Will Contain A Microchip

    YouTube conspiracy theorist David Icke is a main proponent of the 5G fallacy, and he’s extended that with the idea that the vaccine ultimately offered will actually contain “nanotechnology microchips” that can subsequently be used to control people. Icke’s YouTube and Facebook accounts were subsequently deleted.

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    Eating Garlic Prevents Coronavirus

    Garlic’s reputation for warding off vampires, its history in homeopathic medicine and recent research showing potential benefits fighting various diseases including some specific cancers has apparently led to the wishful thinking that it also beneficial for fighting COVID-19.

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