FACT CHECK: 3 Claims From The ‘Plandemic: Indoctornation’ Video
The “Plandemic: Indoctornation” video premiered on Aug. 18 as a sequel to the coronavirus conspiracy theory-laden “Plandemic” video that went viral in May. Like its predecessor, the sequel makes misleading and false claims about a variety of topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are three checks on the video’s claims.
Claim 1: “I feel quite convinced that this was a laboratory-designed organism,” said Dr. Meryl Nass, an internal medicine specialist.
While the exact origins of the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, remain unknown, there is a scientific consensus that it came from nature. More than two dozen public health researchers in February published a statement in the journal The Lancet “strongly condemning” the theory the virus “does not have a natural origin.”
In March, the journal Nature published an article by public health researchers that found, based on the new coronavirus’ genome, there is no indication it was a “laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.” The Office of the Director of National Intelligence also issued a statement in April saying that the U.S. intelligence community “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”
As Check Your Fact has previously reported, SARS-CoV-2 comes from the same family of betacoronaviruses as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, both of which have origins in bats. Researchers suggest the new coronavirus may also have originated in bats and transferred to humans through an intermediary species, according to Nature.
“There’s absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered,” Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University, told the Washington Post.
Claim 2: “On April the 25th, 2003, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention filed a patent on the coronavirus transmitted to humans. Under 35 U.S.C. 101, nature is prohibited from being patented. Either SARS coronavirus was manufactured, therefore making a patent on it legal, or it was natural, therefore making the patent illegal,” said David Martin, founding CEO of M∙CAM Inc.
Per the Wall Street Journal, the CDC applied for a patent covering both the coronavirus that causes SARS and its genome in 2003. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, as well as researchers in Canada and Hong Kong, also filed SARS-related patent applications, NBC News reported. The CDC was granted its patent in 2007 but, contrary to what Martin suggests, the CDC holding the patent isn’t evidence SARS is “manufactured.”
While patents on genetic material have been granted in the past, current law no longer allows DNA in its natural form to be patented, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 held that a “naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.” The CDC applied and received its SARS-related patent prior to that ruling.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, the then-CDC director, said in a 2003 media briefing that the public health organization pursued the patent to “get information about SARS and the SARS genome and the SARS coronavirus into the public domain as quickly as we possibly can.”
“The concern that the federal government is looking at right now is that we could be locked out of this opportunity to work with this virus if it’s patented by someone else,” Gerberding said. “By initiating steps to secure patent rights, we assure that we will be able to continue to make the virus and the products from the virus available in the public domain, and that we can continue to promote the rapid technological transfer of this biomedical information into tools and products that are useful to patients.”
“The CDC does hold some patents on life forms, but it generally does this for the common good, so a commercial company can’t come along and patent it,” David Sanders, an associate professor of biological sciences at Purdue University, told Newsmax Health in 2014 regarding an Ebola virus strain patent held by the CDC. “The CDC lets researchers work with the strain without fees.”
Claim 3: “The Parliament of India created a task force and they studied it and they kicked out the Gates Foundation,” said Mary Holland, the general counsel for the Children’s Health Defense.
The Indian Parliament investigated a 2010 human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine study conducted by the U.S. nonprofit Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), according to Science Magazine. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the study.
After local media outlets reported the deaths of seven girls taking part in the trial, the study was canceled. Five of the deaths were unrelated to the vaccine, while the other two were less certain, though government investigators concluded the links between their deaths and the vaccine were “unlikely,” Science Magazine reported.
The Indian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare in 2013 found that the vaccine trial had committed a “gross violation of consent and legal requirement of consent,” according to the committee’s report. After the report came out, PATH issued a statement saying they “disagree with the findings, conclusions, and tone of the released report and its disregard of the evidence and facts.”
The Indian government in 2017 refuted reports that work with the Gates Foundation in the country had ceased as “inaccurate and misleading,” adding that the foundation “continues to collaborate and support the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.” At the time of publication, both the Gates Foundation and PATH continue to work in India.