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April 10, 2020

Conspiring Fear: why COVID-19 is not a patented virus or a biological weapon

Conspiracy theories: they’re just fairy tales adults tell each other on YouTube” — John Oliver.

As if there wasn’t enough fear and uncertainty in the world right now, there are a growing number of erroneous, scare-mongering theories about COVID-19 floating around social media, linking the virus to everything from Fifth Generation (5G) wireless technology to biomedical warfare.

This blog aims to dispel those misinformed and misleading claims. One such claim is that coronavirus is patented by the USA and is thus being used as a biological weapon against China. “CORONAVIRUS US-Patent 10130701” does indeed exist. It is a patent application from 2015 by the Pirbright Institute for one type of coronavirus, which is not COVID-19. You can see the patent here:

As the website makes transparent, this is a patent for ‘avian infectious bronchitis virus and porcine delta-coronavirus’. This is clearly not a patent for the COVID-19 strain, which has the designation ‘19’ precisely because the strain was discovered in the year 2019. Some conspiracy theorists fail to recognise that coronavirus is a broad category of viruses that includes SARS, MERS, and even the common cold. Since 2019, COVID-19 has been added to this family of viruses. So yes, coronavirus was around in 2015, but it was not the COVID-19 strain. Based on this fact alone, the wild imaginings of conspiracy theorists are on shaky ground.

Let’s be clear: viruses are not, and cannot, be patented; however, potential cures or vaccines specific to a virus can be, and are, patented.

If you see that a virus has a patent then the virus per se is not patented: it is the potential vaccine that is patented. This means that the United States government did not manufacture the virus; rather it applied for the patent so it can enable companies to use the virus to create vaccines — vaccines that save lives — and also to prevent private companies from restricting research around it.

The patent number mentioned above refers to a ‘live attenuated’ version of the avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) which is essentially a weakened version of the virus, patented with the aim of eventually developing it into a vaccine for animals. IBV is in the same family of coronaviruses as COVID-19, but it is not COVID-19 itself.

And to dispel claims that Bill Gates is out to make money on COVID-19 by inventing both the virus and the vaccine, this patent for the weakened IBV was granted to the Pirbright Institute — based in the UK — which does notcurrently work with COVID-19. The Institute does indeed receive funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — namely $5.5 million to establish a Livestock Antibody Hub for improving animal and human health — although not for this patented work. Moreover, the Institute was not founded by them, as has been claimed. So even when Mr Gates, who has donated millions of dollars in advancing the science of vaccination, makes huge philanthropic gestures and uses his wealth for good, he is still subject to outlandish claims. His generous investments could potentially save millions of lives, and yet seemingly he can’t do right for doing wrong. That’s gratitude for you.

Finally, let’s inject a bit of pragmatism and realism into these claims. If the USA had patented a virus to be used for biological warfare, then would the most powerful country in the world, which also has the most high-tech information security systems in the world, be so flagrantly foolish to make that patent publicly available for all to see, including the purported ‘enemy’? No. It would not. Let’s give the United States government some credit.

Does belief in this theory (or any other) require accepting inherently contradictory premises, namely that the conspiring entities — in this case the United States government — are incredibly resourceful, downright stupid, organised, intelligent, and yet hopelessly incompetent all at the same time? A notorious example is chemtrails. If the United States government wished to use chemicals to have effects at ground level, then high-altitude dispersion would be the most expensive and ineffective approach imaginable, as well as readily detected by spectrographs and air sampling. And so this theory would require believing in an entity (again, the United States government) that is at once well resourced, competent, clever, well advised, and at the same time hopelessly stupid.

Like MARS, SERS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu and others before it, COVID-19 is a virus that originated in animals. It was not manufactured in a lab to be used in biological warfare. So what motivates conspiracy theorists to invent such ludicrous claims? Are they inherently mistrusting, or do they feel powerless in their lives meaning they have issues with authority figures? Do they harbour some sort of persecution complex, as if the world is out to get them? Or do they seek to reveal what they perceive to be the ‘truth’, albeit a version of the truth shrouded in hearsay, inference, and imagination? Why do these people seek to invent an alternative reality rooted in suspicion and paranoia? They claim to seek the ‘truth’; but at what point does their search for ‘truth’ serve only to obfuscate the truth? Are they so bored, so dissatisfied with their ‘reality’, that they seek to fabricate an alternative one? Conspiracy theorists oppose what is colloquially known as ‘fake news’. How? By inventing their own falsities. They do not encourage the light of wisdom and truth; rather they obfuscate it and perpetuate a mindset of fear; for what are suspicion and paranoia, other than manifestations of fear?

Conspiracy theories are rooted in an innate suspicion of human beings. They are born out of fear and serve to perpetuate fear: in the case of UFOs, it is the fear of an alien invasion; in the case of 9/11 it is the fear of terrorism; and in more recent times, in the case of the biochemical or 5G ‘conspiracy’, it is the fear of a global pandemic: coronavirus. Oftentimes, if a rational and empirically minded person does not believe the conspiracy theorist’s claims, then they are deemed to be ‘ignorant’ of the truth, or blinded to the truth out of fear. But the fact is, if we choose not to believe the unfounded claims of the conspiracy theorist then it is because the voice of reason — not ignorance — tells us that something doesn’t sit right. We are all grown up enough to trust our beliefs, intuitively, and so if something doesn’t feel right then we should not force ourselves into believing something, especially out of fear of being branded ‘ignorant’. Often, conspiracy theories themselves are born out of ignorance of reality itself: they are invented to obfuscate or evade reality out of fear; so if there is a killer virus spreading across our planet, then rather than face that reality, the conspiracy theorist will invent all sorts of fanciful claims linking the virus to some surreptitious government plot whether it’s 5G, mass control, biomedical warfare, or whatever. But they can’t all be ‘true’, so which one is it? Conspiracy theories are nothing but the bypassing of the real, for what better way to bypass the real than to invent an alternative ‘reality’.

Conspiracy theorists purport to unveil truths that are hidden from us by the powerful. They argue that the powerful in society hide the truth to keep us in a state of fear and control. But conspiracy theorists are conspirers of alternative ‘truths’ that do not serve enlightened thought: far from it, for whilst they seek to subvert authority they instead perpetuate a mindset of suspicion and fear, which is precisely what they accuse the powerful of doing. It is hypocrisy par excellence. As the brilliant Carl Sagan once said, ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof’. Conspiracy theorists have extraordinary imaginations and make outlandish claims; but they fall short when it comes to providing robust evidence: suspicion, hearsay, and paranoia are not the bases for empirical proofs but rather the mechanisms for disseminating falsity, fabrication and fear. Many conspiracy theorists urge their readers and listeners to conduct their own research into their claims without actually providing any reliable sources of empirical evidence; rather, they provide links to YouTube videos, underground websites and blogs hosted by other conspirers.

And of course, if YouTube removes any unfounded information, then surely it is in league with the oppressive and powerful corporations that are out to get us, right? Let’s not forget that YouTube has always provided caveats to videos that purport to be ‘factual’ when in reality they have no empirical grounding: for example, YouTube is host to many Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) talks on the so-called Law of Attraction (LOA); but those videos come with a caution; that neither YouTube or TED endorses the ‘scientific’ claims espoused by proponents of the LOA, for they have no empirical merit and, furthermore, are not endorsed by the scientific community. YouTube has a responsibility as a provider of information not to advocate anything that is misleading or potentially dangerous: if the information espoused by conspiracy theorists such as David Icke and others contravenes scientifically verifiable, medically sound, and empirically proven guidance, or does not sit within World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines that are in place to protect public health, then it is removed — and rightly so, in order to protect the public from false, misleading, and potentially dangerous information. But the conspiracy theorist would claim that the medical establishment and the WHO are part of the cover-up along with YouTube, Facebook (all media outlets for that matter), the government, 5G technology providers, and pretty much anyone who doesn’t buy into their bullshit. Where does the paranoia end? Because from a conspiracy theorist’s point of view it would seem the whole world really is out to get them.

Let’s look at some of David Icke’s claims in his recent and controversial interview with the broadcaster London Real which, incidentally, has generated a lot of publicity and money simply from the interview being censored by YouTube. Icke questions why all people admitted to hospital were tested for COVID-19, as if there were some sinister reasoning for this. The reality is, all vulnerable patients admitted to hospital are tested for the virus as a precautionary measure to protect the patient, the healthcare staff, and other patients. There is no conspiracy behind this standard medical practice. He goes on to say that patients were admitted to hospital with other co-morbidities, such as cancer, and yet if they were to die from coronavirus, then that would be stated as the cause of death on their death certificate. Why not cancer, he asks. Why? Because the patient is admitted to hospital with coronavirus, which caused their death, regardless of whether they had cancer or any other co-morbidity. The same would be true if a patient who had cancer was admitted to hospital with pneumonia: if they then died of pneumonia, then that would be stated as the cause of death. Once again, there is no underlying conspiracy, just routine medical practice. Let’s not forget that David Icke is a former footballer and sports broadcaster: he has no experience of the medical profession. And let’s also not forget that he believes that prominent figureheads are descended from an inter-dimensional race of shape-shifting reptilians known as ‘Archons’. Is this man to be championed as the voice of truth and reason? Notwithstanding the shortfall of intensive care beds and ventilators at the present time, I suspect there will be a shortage of padded cells and straightjackets once this crisis is over.

Facetiousness aside, I get it that everyone deals with uncertainty and anxiety in their own way: we each have our own coping mechanisms during times of crisis; but fighting fear by inventing and perpetuating more fear in the name of ‘truth’ and ‘enlightenment’ is not helpful. I hope those individuals who call themselves ‘light workers’ will be responsible enough not to spread misinformation at a time in our human history when we need clarity and assurance. Surely that is the mission of the ‘light worker’ — that is, to spread light and not to shroud facts in imagined conspiracies that only serve to perpetuate falsity and exacerbate feelings of fear and uncertainty. What they claim is not the truth: it is an alternative, fabricated version of an imagined ‘truth’ that is rooted in fear. Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, many ‘light workers’ have criticised the government, medical institutions, the WHO, and other authorities for espousing false claims and misinformation, yet there is far more bullshit being spewed out by the so-called ‘spiritual’ community in the form of fear-mongering conspiracy theories.

*Disclaimer: in view of the fact that I do not agree with David Icke et al, I can confirm that I am not in league with the Archons or any other inter-dimensional species of anthropic reptiles.

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