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6                       Eight Persistent COVID-19 Myths

          Eight Persistent COVID-

         19 Myths and Why People
                    Believe Them

           From a human-made virus to

          vaccine conspiracy theories, we
           rounded up the most insidious

         false claims about the pandemic

                      by Tanya Lewis

        #1: The virus was engineered in a
        laboratory in China.

        Because the pathogen first emerged in Wuhan,
        China, President Donald Trump and others have
        claimed, without evidence, that it started in a lab percent, compared with 0.1 percent for Why People Believe It: Early guidance on
        there, and some conspiracy theorists believe it influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and masks from the CDC and the  WHO was
        was engineered as a bioweapon.                   Prevention estimates that the latter causes confusing and inconsistent, suggesting that
                                                         roughly 12,000 to 61,000 deaths per year in the members of the general public did not need to
        Why It’s False: U.S. intelligence agencies have U.S. In contrast, COVID-19 had caused 200,000 wear masks unless they had symptoms of an
        categorically denied the possibility that the virus deaths in the country as of mid-September. infection. The guidance was in part driven by a
        was engineered in a lab, stating that “the Many people also have partial immunity to the shortage of high-quality surgical and N95
        Intelligence Community ... concurs with the flu because of vaccination or prior infection, masks, which the agencies said should be
        wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 whereas most of the world has not yet reserved for health care workers. Even though
        virus was not man-made or genetically encountered COVID-19. So no, coronavirus is face coverings are now mandated or
        modified.” Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli— not “just the flu.”                                    recommended in many states, some people
        who studies bat coronaviruses and whose lab                                                       refuse to wear one because they consider it
        Trump and others have suggested was the source Why People Believe  It:  Their leaders keep emasculating or a violation of their civil
        of COVID-19—compared the pathogen’s saying it. In addition to his repeated false claims liberties.
        sequence with those of other coronaviruses her that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu, Trump
        team had sampled from bat caves and found that has also said—falsely—that the numbers of          #4: Wealthy elites are using the
        it did not match any of them. In response to calls deaths from COVID-19 are exaggerated. In fact,  virus to profit from vaccines.
        for an independent, international investigation reported deaths from COVID-19 are likely an
        into how the virus originated, China has invited undercount.
                                                                                                          In a book and in the conspiracy theory film
        researchers from the World Health Organization
                                                                                                          Plandemic, Judy Mikovits, who once published
        to discuss the scope of such a mission.          #3:  You don’t need to wear a
                                                                                                          a high-profile but eventually retracted study on
                                                         mask.                                            chronic fatigue syndrome, makes the
        Why People Believe It: People want a
                                                                                                          unsubstantiated claim that National Institute of
        scapegoat for the immense suffering and
                                                         Despite a strong consensus among public health Allergy and Infectious Diseases director
        economic fallout caused by COVID-19, and
                                                         authorities that masks limit transmission of Anthony Fauci and Microsoft co-founder Bill
        China—a foreign country and a competitor of
                                                         coronavirus, many people (the president Gates could be using their power to profit from
        the U.S.—is an easy target.  Accidental lab
                                                         included) have refused to wear one. Georgia’s a COVID-19 vaccine. She also asserts without
        releases of pathogens do sometimes occur, and
                                                         governor Brian Kemp went so far as to sign an evidence that the virus came from a lab and that
        although many scientists say this possibility is
                                                         executive order banning city governments from wearing masks “activates your own virus.” An
        unlikely, it provides just enough legitimacy to
                                                         implementing mask mandates. He even sued excerpt from the film was widely shared by anti-
        support a narrative in which China intentionally
                                                         Atlanta’s mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms when vaxxers and the conspiracy theory group
        engineered the virus to unleash it on the world.
                                                         she instituted one, although he has since QAnon. The video was viewed more than eight
                                                         dropped the lawsuit. Nevertheless, as million times on  YouTube, Facebook,  Twitter
        #2: COVID-19 is no worse than
                                                         coronavirus cases spiked around the U.S. during and Instagram before it was taken down.
        the flu.                                         the summer, even states that were once staunch
                                                         holdouts implemented mask orders.                Why It’s False: There is no evidence that Fauci
        Since the beginning of the pandemic, Trump has                                                    or Gates has benefited from the pandemic or
        lied about the disease’s severity, saying it is no Why It’s False: Masks have long been known profited from a vaccine. In fact, Fauci has
        more dangerous than seasonal influenza. Trump to be an effective means of what epidemiologists sounded alarms throughout the pandemic about
        himself admitted to journalist and author Bob call source control (preventing a sick patient the risks of the virus, and Gates has a long
        Woodward in recorded interviews in early from spreading a disease to others).  A recent history of philanthropy geared toward
        February and late March that he knew COVID- analysis published in the Lancet looked at more eliminating communicable diseases. Mikovits’s
        19 was more deadly than the flu and that he than 170 studies and found that face masks can claims about the virus’s origin and the efficacy
        wanted to play down its severity.                prevent COVID-19 infection. It has also been of masks also have no scientific support.
                                                         widely established that people can be infected
        Why It’s False: The precise infection fatality with and spread COVID-19 without ever
        rate of COVID-19 is hard to measure, but         developing symptoms, which is why everyone                               (Continued on Page 7)
        epidemiologists suspect that it is far higher than should wear a mask to prevent asymptomatic
        that of the flu—somewhere between 0.5 and 1 people from spreading the virus.
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