As the death toll caused by the infectious Coronavirus continues to rise, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning that “trolls and conspiracy theories” are jeopardizing the response to the new virus. WHO said misinformation and fake news around the new strain, 2019-nCoV, causes “confusion and spreads fear” to the general public.
Indeed, there have been many stories in the Internet related to the virus, jaw-dropping claims made by either religious teachers, scientists or news media. There were also dubious secret recipe going viral – ranging from drinking a bowl of freshly boiled garlic water to eating kimchi, consuming onions, chicken soup, green bean soup, gargling salt water and even applying cow dung to one’s body.
In Singapore, a racist Islamic religious teacher, Abdul Halim Abdul Karim, said that the Coronavirus was retribution from Allah against the Chinese for their oppressive treatment of Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province. After reports that the virus could potentially be transmitted through faeces, he then said Chinese people do not wash properly and are not as hygienic as Muslims.
When a popular vlogger, Wang Mengyun, uploaded a video clip of her devouring a bowl of bat soup and said it tastes “like chicken meat”, it triggered global outrage. People blamed the Chinese eating habits for the outbreak. However, the video was not shot in Wuhan, let alone China. Originally filmed in 2016 in Palau, an archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean, it turned out to be a local delicacy there.
Even Microsoft founder Bill Gates was accused in one of the conspiracy theories. Jordan Sather, a conspiracy theorist and YouTuber, told his 100,000 Twitter followers and 200,000 YouTube followers that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was involved – calling the crisis a pre-planned outbreak. He pointed to a 2015 patent filed by the Pirbright Institute in Surrey, England, where the Gates foundation is a donor.
Apparently, the patent covers the development of a weakened form of a Coronavirus that could potentially be used as a vaccine to prevent respiratory diseases in birds and other animals. To attract funding, Sather suggested that the current Coronavirus was deliberately manufactured and released. However, Pirbright argued that the patent involves IBV (infectious bronchitis virus) on chickens only.
There were also claims that the latest Coronavirus contains HIV “insertions”based on an unpublished manuscript by scientists in India. Using the same HIV theory, ZeroHedge, a financial markets website, claimed that Eric Ding, a visiting scientist at Harvard, has similarly suggested that the virus “might have been genetically engineered for the purposes of a weapon.”
ZeroHedge has also claimed that the new Coronavirus was stolen from a laboratory in Canada before being weaponized by the Chinese communist government. The website, which had about 670,000 Twitter followers, was eventually banned permanently after it shared publicly the identity and personal information of a Chinese researcher it claimed might know about the source of the virus.
As usual, any conspiracy theories are incomplete without pointing fingers at the United States. Channel One, one of Russian national TV networks, has been splashing Coronavirus conspiracy theories on its prime time news programmes. The TV channel claimed that the virus didn’t originate in Wuhan, China, but was actually manufactured in an American laboratory on Trump’s orders.
Linking U.S. president to the epidemic, the Russian TV network even had an idea how the virus got its name. Donald Trump, who owned the Miss Universe Organization and Miss Teen USA from 1996 to 2015, handed out crowns at his famous beauty contest. Therefore, the word “corona”, which means crown in both Latin and Russian, originated from Trump’s previous business.
Agreeing with other conspiracy theorists that Coronavirus was man-made or artificially created, Channel One has claimed that U.S. intelligence agencies or American pharmaceutical companies are behind the outbreak. Adding fuel to the crisis, the Kremlin media said that the U.S. possessed a lab in Georgia, where biological weapons were tested on humans.
The objective of spreading the virus, according to the Russian TV, was to kill two birds with a stone. The U.S. Big Pharma will profit from creating a vaccine from the virus they had secretly created. At the same time, Trump administration can hit the Chinese economy in an evil plan to weaken Beijing as a geopolitical competitor. The U.S. somehow fails to pressure China to surrender in the trade war.
The Arab media has upped the ante – accusing not only America, but also Israel in their own version of conspiracy theories. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, some Arab writers were convinced that the Coronavirus is part of a biological warfare designed by the United States to cripple and weaken China, the world’s second largest economy.
Saudi Arabia daily newspaper Al-Watan published that it was no coincidence that the Coronavirus was absent from the U.S. and Israel (the U.S. has 13 confirmed cases so far). Sa’ud Al-Shehry wrote – “A ‘wonder’ virus was discovered yesterday in China; tomorrow it will be discovered in Egypt, but it will not be discovered either today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow in the U.S. or Israel, nor in poor countries.”
Al-Watan said – “The Coronavirus is a known virus, and we know that it was discovered in 1960 and that it causes ordinary respiratory diseases. Its symptoms are like those of any other virus: coughing, congestion, and perhaps also diarrhea and fever. Hence, it is strange to hear that the World Health Organization is saying that ‘this is a virus first discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, in a camel.”
The Saudi media continued its theory – “As soon as Egypt announced, a few years ago, that it would rely on poultry raised domestically, meaning that the country will no longer needed poultry from the US, France, and so on, suddenly the avian flu virus appeared … with the aim of nipping Egypt’s economic awakening in the bud. Out of the blue, like a miracle, Merck Sharp appeared (with the medicine).”
“Even before this, the same thing was done in China … when (China) announced in 2003 that it had the world’s largest dollar reserves they (the U.S.) introduced Coronavirus’ cousin, SARS – (along with) the (vaccine) serum, saying ‘We are the only ones who have this and you’ll pay for it.‘ There was also the anthrax experiment, with the same company, Merck Sharp,” – argued Al-Watan.
Syrian daily Al-Thawra made a similar claim in a February 3, 2020 column, saying that the latest virus was part of a commercial-biological-psychological war waged by the U.S. against China. It said – “From Ebola, Zika, SARS, avian flu and swine flu, through anthrax and mad cow disease to the Coronavirus – all these deadly viruses were manufactured by the U.S. to annihilate the peoples of the world.”
Al-Thawra believes that manufacturing virus was US’ strategy to reduce the population of the world by two-thirds. The plan was designed in such way that not only will it not harm Americans, it would actually earn billions after forcing the World Health Organization to designate those diseases as deadly plagues so that the vaccine would be obligatory rather than voluntary.
Vetogate, an Egyptian news website, explained why the Chinese City of Wuhan was chosen as the epicenter of the current outbreak – “American factories are the first to manufacture every kind of virus and bacteria, from the virulent smallpox virus and the bubonic plague virus to all the viruses we saw in the recent years, such as mad cow disease and swine flu”.
“Wuhan is an industrial town, but it is nevertheless the eighth-richest city in China after Shanghai. The country’s major cities are Guangzhou, Beijing, Tianjin and Hong Kong. Wuhan, at the bottom of the major cities list, becomes a suitable target for an American crime … for it is not a focus of attention, and the level of health-care is obviously lower,” – explained Vetogate.
The Egyptian Vetogate also raised suspicions that hundreds of Americans in Wuhan, including CNN international correspondent David Culver and his team, suddenly decided to leave or scrambled to exit the city, even though at that time, none of them contracted the disease (the first American had died over the weekend in Wuhan).
More importantly, the biological warfare was orchestrated by the U.S. and Israel to not only create trouble and chaos, but also to humiliate China. Besides forcing the Chinese to spend billions of dollars on medicines and emergency measures, the U.S. wants to send a message to the world that China is still an incompetent backward country whose citizens consume bat soup.