FACT CHECK: Did Imperial College London Send This Memo About An Upcoming ‘Permanent Lockdown’?
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a memo from Imperial College London about a plan to permanently lock down the United Kingdom.
There is no evidence that Imperial College London sent such a memo. The college released a statement labeling the memo as “an obvious fake.”
The image shows what appears to be a lengthy memorandum allegedly sent by Imperial College London professor and epidemiologist Neil Ferguson to eight of his colleagues. “Next Steps – Permanent Lockdown of the UK (Private & Confidential),” reads the memo’s subject line. The memo goes on to outline a plan to trick the British people, with the help of the media and the government, into accepting a permanent lockdown due to a “spike in the new Indian and Nepal ‘variants’ of the ‘virus,’” which the memo calls a “re-branding of Hay Fever.”
A mutated version of the COVID-19 virus known as the Delta variant was first identified in India and is “well on its way to becoming the dominant variant globally,” according to a statement made by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, during a June 18 press conference. The so-called Nepal variant mentioned in the alleged memo appears to be the Delta variant with an additional mutation, according to Quartz India. Neither variant is the same as Hay Fever, which is an allergic reaction to outdoor or indoor allergens that produces cold-like symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The memo does not appear to be real. Had Imperial College London sent out a memo detailing a plan to instate a permanent lockdown in the U.K., British media outlets would have reported on it, yet a search of news outlets, including The Sun, BBC News, Metro and The Sunday Times turned up no such report. Check Your Fact searched the U.K. Department of Health and Social Care’s website, but found no mention of an impending permanent lockdown.
Furthermore, Imperial College London released a statement on June 18 on its website calling the memo “an obvious fake” and denying that it originated with the school or Ferguson. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims To Show UK Government Letter About Proposed Mandatory Microchips)
“This fake memo entitled ‘Next Steps – Permanent Lockdown of the UK (Private & Confidential)’ was not written by Neil Ferguson,” reads the statement. “This totally untrue piece of disinformation was constructed and spread by extremists and has no association with Imperial College London, the UK government, or its scientific advisors.”
The U.K. has lifted several COVID-19 restrictions, though many remain in place as the country’s health officials are concerned about the emergence of the Delta variant, according to BBC News. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed optimism that all restrictions could be lifted as early as July 19, the outlet reported.