FACT CHECK: Does This Chart Show An Authentic Schedule Of ‘Release’ Dates For COVID-19 Variants?

Mecca Fowler | Contributor

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a chart of planned variants of COVID-19 and when they will be allegedly “released” to the media.

Verdict: False

The chart appears to have been fabricated. Some of the variants scheduled to be “released” in the future have already been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO), while others do not yet exist as of publication.

Fact Check:

The Delta variant of the novel coronavirus is currently the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S., according to CNBC. The variant is extremely contagious and has a larger transmission window than the original COVID-19 strain, the outlet reported.

A July 27 Facebook post shows a chart in Spanish with the Greek alphabet in the first two columns, and a month and year in the third column. Next to the chart are the logos of organizations such as Johns Hopkins University, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the WHO.

“These are the PLANNED VARIANTS with the dates when they will be “released” to the media,” text accompanying the chart reads. “The last ‘Covid variant’ is scheduled for February 2023, meaning by the end of 2023, 7 Billion people are scheduled to die.”

Viruses often change through mutation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the different variants of COVID-19 contain mutations of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (RELATED: No, The COVID-19 Delta Variant Is Not Fake)

While it’s unclear from where the chart originated, the chart is not authentic or accurate. Check Your Fact searched the websites of Johns Hopkins University, the WEF and the WHO, but found no instances of the schedule shown in the Facebook post. Had such a chart been released by any of the listed organizations, media outlets certainly would have reported on it, yet none have.

Furthermore, the chart in the Facebook post misrepresents when some of the variants were discovered. The WHO is currently monitoring several variants of COVID-19, which the organization named using letters of the Greek alphabet. For instance, the chart states the Delta variant of COVID-19 was “released” in June 2021, but the earliest documented sample of the variant is from India in October 2020, according to the WHO. The first case of the Delta variant in the U.S. was identified in March 2021, The New York Times reported.

The Facebook post also asserts the Kappa and Lambda variants will be “released” in December 2021 and January 2022 respectively. The Kappa variant was first documented in India in October 2020, while the Lambda variant was first documented in Peru in December 2020, the WHO reported.

Other variants in the Facebook chart, such as the Epsilon, Zeta and Theta variants were likewise documented before their respective “release” dates in the chart, according to the WHO, and some, like the Sigma and Tau variants, have not yet been discovered.

Mecca Fowler