Updated: 29 Mar 2020, 10:54 AM IST
The Biggest Humanitarian Crisis
The coronavirus outbreak has brought the world to a halt. With over 471,794 positive cases and 21,297 deaths, COVID-19 outbreak has caused global panic. Italy, Iran, US happen to be the worst hit countries in addition to China, which is the epicentre of the outbreak.
As the phrase goes, the ‘streets are talking’ and rumour mills are running overtime. Several sceptics and tin foil hat bearers have been speculating and there are plenty of coronavirus conspiracy theories doing the rounds on the Internet.
Here are some of the most spine-chilling, eerie and scary conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19.
Ever since the news about the coronavirus was picked up by global media, speculations about the communist government of China trying to ‘cover-up’ the outbreak and hide the official figures were rife.
The fact that the Chinese Government tried to suppress the attempts of the whistleblowers (the insiders as well as eight doctors), who tried to warn the public of the pandemic, is rather alarming and didn’t help their cause.
While the rumours of the Chinese cover-up are unsubstantiated, once can only think about the popular proverb, ‘there’s no smoke, without fire’.
Coronavirus Predicted In A Novel
This theory, in all probability, is the scariest one and will send chills down your spine. Soon after the news of the outbreak broke, several users started pointing out that a passage from the 1981 book ‘The Eyes of Darkness’ by Dean Koontz eerily predicts the Coronavirus outbreak.
The photograph of the passage from the book went viral in no time and netizens couldn’t help but freak out because the resemblance was uncanny and the evidence was hard to dismiss.
To give you some background, the plot is based around a mother who attempts to find out what happened to her son after he mysteriously disappeared on a camping trip. It turns out that the boy is held in China – more specifically in Wuhan – the site of a deadly virus outbreak.
In the passage, a character named Dombey narrates an account of a virus called ‘Wuhan-400’ which was developed at the RDNA lab outside the city of Wuhan, and ‘ it was the four-hundredth viable strain of man-made microorganisms created at that research centre’.
The passage then gives intricate details about how the virus affects the human body. The chilling accuracy with which this 1981 book predicts the outbreak and the resemblance between ‘Wuhan-400’ and Coronavirus is eerie to say the least.
Is Coronavirus A Bioweapon?
The Internet was brimming with conspiracies about the coronavirus, and, perhaps, one of the most prominent ones was that the virus could be a bioweapon. According to an ET Prime report, a group of Chinese scientists in Canada were accused of spying and were stripped of their access to Canada’s National Microbiology Lab (NML) which is known to work on some of the most deadly pathogens.
The alleged ‘policy breach’, highlighted the bioweapon program of other countries including China. Dr Francis Boyle, the creator of Bio Weapons Act, also claims that ‘the coronavirus is an offensive biological warfare weapon with DNA-genetic engineering’.
Again, the claims about coronavirus being a biological weapon are unsubstantiated.
Origins in the seafood market?
Scientists haven’t been able to determine the origin of COVID-19 but speculations are rife that the virus originated in the seafood market. This was substantiated by reports from Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organization which said that “most” cases had links to the seafood market, which was closed on 1 January.
Sceptics on the online forums, however, have been sharing suspicions that the virus could have originated from Wuhan, Institute of Virology, which houses China’s only level- four biosafety laboratory (the highest-level classification of labs that study the deadliest viruses).
The first prominent personality to come out publicly and support the theory was the US senator Tom Cotton who appeared on Fox News to allege that the virus could indeed have originated from the lab.
Several netizens have also been alleging that this was an attempt to control the Chinese population. However, the claims are unsubstantiated.
As conspiracy theories started spreading like wildfire on the Internet, several misguided rumours about the connection between 5G and coronavirus surfaced online. COVID-19, is believed to have originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China, in November. Coincidentally, China also turned on some of its 5G networks in November.
Rumours gained steam when Keri Hilson, popular American singer, with 4.2 million followers on Twitter, sent out tweets last week about the alleged connection between 5G and COVID-19, writing, “People have been trying to warn us about 5G for YEARS. Petitions, organizations, studies… what we’re going through is the affects [sic] of radiation. 5G launched in CHINA. Nov 1, 2019. People dropped dead.”
Several conspiracy theorists also alleged that the viral videos of people ‘dropping on the ground and fainting’ in China, were a result of 5G radio waves messing with the oxygen levels in blood of the general public.
Soon, a UK based fact checking website, FullFact, debunked the claims and argued that there is ‘no evidence that 5G is harmful to people’s health’.
Not As Dangerous As SARS
Sceptics are almost everywhere. When the news about coronavirus spread, several skeptics on social media started accusing the global media of creating unnecessary panic around the novel coronavirus.
Netizens all over the world started comparing the outbreak to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak which happened in 2003. Scientists argued that more contagious the virus, lesser is the mortality rate, which simply means that viruses which are highly contagious are less deadly.
The mortality rate for coronavirus as per a CIDRAP report is 2.3% while for SARS, it was a whopping 9.6%.
Is the media unnecessarily hyping up the pandemic? Or is the ‘2% mortality rate’ argument baseless?
Did Simpsons Predict The Outbreak?
‘The Simpsons’ is popular for various reasons. It is, of course, the longest running primetime scripted series and has won several accolades too. But, the animated show is also known for predicting several major events around the world before they happened.
From allegedly predicting the 9/11 attacks to Donald Trump announcing his presidency, the show is almost like an embodiment of Nostradamus. However, soon after the coronavirus outbreak, allegations of the show predicting the pandemic surfaced.
A February 20 Facebook post appeared and showed stills from a 1993 episode of the show in which both Homer Simpson and Principal Skinner are sick; another image shows a broadcaster reading off a piece of paper while the words “corona virus” and a cat appears on a screen behind him.
However, it turns out that the images were altered. Three images were from an episode called ‘Osaka flu’ where a factory worker coughs into a package for Homer and he falls sick. The text behind the broadcaster in the fourth image however, does not say ‘corona virus’ but ‘apocalypse meow’.
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