Coronavirus outbreak has led to serious concerns all over the world; so naturally the topic becomes a febrile ground for misinformation.
While FIT has successfully debunked fake news which offered scientifically unproven alternative remedies to the coronavirus, this particular post it received is different from the others. While they were factually wrong, this one takes different, unrelated truths to allege that the coronavirus outbreak is a conspiracy to get more profits and get people to be vaccinated.
Versions of these lies have been shared in the form of multiple Facebook posts, tweets, articles and YouTube videos, and are being shared in anti-vaccine groups in US and other places.
Since this lie is so long, complicated and tedious to break because of its narrative, we are breaking it line by line for you.
This is true. Two earlier known strains of the coronavirus: the Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) were first reported in China in 2003 and Saudi Arabia in 2012 respectively. However, the strain found in Wuhan is Novel, meaning it have never been encountered in humans before.
You can read FIT's detailed explanation on the different strains of coronaviruses here.
While the two coronaviruses (MERS and SARS) emerged in humans in the beginning of the 21st century, the Wuhan coronavirus is a novel strain of the same coronavirus, meaning that this particular strain of coronavirus has not been encountered in humans before and was identified only in December 2019.
The origin of the coronavirus has been located to a now-shut seafood market in Wuhan, where previous footage shows live animals such as snakes and porcupines were also being sold. There were some reports the origins of this virus could be snakes, but this is still being debated.
While it is true that CDC, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a US federal agency filed a patent in 2004 about the nucleic acid sequencing of the SARS coronavirus genome, it was to "provide methods and compositions useful in detecting the presence of a SARS-CoV nucleic acid in a sample and/or diagnosing a SARS-CoV infection in a subject."
Put simply, it was about combating the virus by getting to know its DNA, and certainly not to spread it further!
Also, this post slyly makes the assumption that all coronaviruses are the same, and that the expiry of patent of ONE coronavirus is somehow linked to the 'origin' of another. However, an AFP fact check mentions that the new coronavirus differs from the previously known one by about 25%.
The fact that two unrelated events are put together in this post is just a tactic to evoke suspicion in the minds of the reader, nothing else, especially when little similarity exists
The patent that this post refers to is for a coronavirus that infects ANIMALS, not humans. A Fact check by The Annenberg Public Policy Center reveals that the patent No. 10,130,701, which can be seen by anyone here, and was filed by the Pirbright Institute, works only to prevent viral diseases in poultry and birds.
On its website, The Pirbright Institute has stated categorically that it “does not currently work with human coronaviruses.”
And while Pirbright has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it is not unusual as the Foundation routinely gives money to research institutions that are involved in vaccine development.
At the outset, Inovio has not been directly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The company has received a grant of up to $9 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or the CEPI, a "public-private coalition" which "aims to derail epidemics by speeding up the development of vaccines."
Besides Inovio, other organisations including the National Institute of Health, a US federal institute are making coronavirus vaccines, all racing against each other to develop the quickest and most effective vaccine that can be marketed easily. You can read more about the stage of vaccine for this novel strain here.
It is true that the company developed the Zika vaccine in a record breaking seven months. But only for the Phase 1 trials (trials on humans). The tests are still underway. However, the company's DNA medicine approach, along with its Zika virus achievement, makes it a good contender for developing the coronavirus vaccine.
Wistar, a biomedical research and training facility in Philadelphia, too, is part of the CEPI team that is developing a vaccine against the deadly Wuhan coronavirus.
And its WI-38 cell line, although contentious, actually saved the lives of millions of kids by using the aborted foetus, instead of the monkey kidney cells which were being used at the time and had caused cancer in laboratory hamsters, ensured that vaccines were much cleaner and safer.
So yes, while the scientist, Leonard Hayflick, who invented this did use an aborted foetus, it actually saved the lives of millions of kids.
The pandemic simulation exercise was a hypothetical exercise done in October 2019 which was meant to test the preparedness of health agencies in case of a pandemic and the fact that a coronavirus was used in the simulation is simply because of its virtue of spreading fast and wide.
It has nothing to do with the coronavirus seen in Wuhan.
The whole para somehow seems to suggest that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation not only 'predicted', but are also 'profiting' from the coronavirus outbreak.
Many of these allegations are being made in anti-vaccine and conspiracy theory groups, as also in QAnon, a far right conspiracy theory group. However, what needs to be understood is that though these claims have some facts and figures, the narrative in which they are being presented is highly incorrect.
Whoever wrote this certainly has an imaginative mind, as they are linking a mere documentary to a health epidemic, indicating it could all be a Netflix publicity stunt!
And about the matter of Dr. Tedros Adhanon, besides being the first African to lead the World Health Organization (WHO), he also built a strong community health system in Ethiopia when he was the health minister. However, he has served as a top Executive and Central Committee member of the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF), which before being voted to power, was blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Homeland Security’s Global Terrorism Database.
However, that has nothing to do with the WHO, or the organisation's efforts in tackling the big health problems surrounding the planet, including the Wuhan coronavirus!
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