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(Screenshot from “Plandemic: Indoctornation") (Screenshot from “Plandemic: Indoctornation")

(Screenshot from “Plandemic: Indoctornation")

Daniel Funke
By Daniel Funke August 18, 2020

If Your Time is short

  • “Plandemic: Indoctornation” is a 75-minute pseudo-documentary that spins an elaborate conspiracy theory about the spread of COVID-19.

  • The video is a follow-up to a shorter version that went viral in May. It repeats several inaccurate and misleading claims about the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have taken steps to slow the spread of “Plandemic: Indoctornation.”

The sequel to a video filled with conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic is so far not the viral hit that the original was.

On Aug. 18, a website that hosts videos removed by YouTube aired "Plandemic: Indoctornation." The video is a pseudo-documentary that spins a conspiracy theory about the spread of COVID-19 over 75 minutes. Among its targets are Bill Gates, technology companies, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the pharmaceutical industry, and fact-checkers like PolitiFact and Snopes.

The video follows up on the shorter "Plandemic" that went viral in May (and was removed by tech companies for violating misinformation policies). It starts where its predecessor left off — a defense of false and misleading claims made by Judy Mikovits, a discredited former scientist at the National Cancer Institute — and ends with aphorisms about humanity and heroism.

Tens of millions of people saw the shorter video before social media platforms removed it for violating their policies against harmful COVID-19 misinformation. This version hasn’t received as many views, because the tech platforms were expecting it.

RELATED: Fact-checking ‘Plandemic’: A documentary full of false conspiracy theories about the coronavirus

Soon after the live feed started, Facebook blocked its users from sharing the link in posts and private messages. TikTok appeared to block searches for the term "Plandemic." Twitter added a warning message saying the link is "potentially spammy or unsafe."

Still, according to CrowdTangle, a social media insights tool, Facebook and Instagram posts with the term "Plandemic" have received tens of thousands of combined interactions since Aug. 17. Most of that engagement appears to have been driven by Brian Rose and his organization London Real, which is behind the website that hosted "Plandemic 2" and has a history of airing falsehoods about COVID-19.

Given the potential harm caused by misinformation about the severity of COVID-19 and how to prevent the virus, we fact-checked some of the documentary’s most misleading claims.

One of the key tenets of PolitiFact is that the burden of proof is on the speaker. Like its predecessor, "Plandemic 2" falls woefully short.

Have a question about "Plandemic 2" that we didn’t answer? Send it to [email protected].

"In 2003, the Center for Disease Control saw the possibility of a gold strike. And that was the coronavirus outbreak that happened in Asia … they sought to patent it, and they made sure that they controlled the proprietary rights to the disease, to the virus, and to its detection and all of the measurement of it."

— David Martin, founding CEO of M∙CAM Inc.

This is misleading. It’s similar to misinformation that has spread since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2003 — during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak in China — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention applied for a patent covering the genetic material of and ways to detect the human coronavirus. Other government agencies, nonprofits and companies also filed for patents

The CDC won its application in 2007. However, the agency does not "control the proprietary rights to" SARS, as Martin claimed in "Plandemic 2."

RELATED: Coronavirus was not a US invention

The CDC said during a 2003 media briefing the goal of the patent was to "make the virus and the products from the virus available in the public domain." 

"A number of public research organisations … were compelled to file patents in respect of the genetic coding of the SARS virus," wrote Matthew Rimmer, an intellectual property law professor at the Queensland University of Technology, in the Melbourne Journal of International Law in 2004. "Such measures were promoted as ‘defensive patenting’ — a means to ensure that public research and communication were not jeopardised by commercial parties seeking exclusive private control."

Entities other than the CDC have tried developing vaccines and treatments for SARS. We reached out to the CDC for a comment, but we haven’t heard back.

"I feel quite convinced that this was a laboratory designed organism."

— Dr. Meryl Nass, internal medicine specialist

Research shows that the virus could not have been created in a lab. An article published March 17 says the genetic makeup of the coronavirus, documented by researchers from several public health organizations, does not indicate it was altered.

SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the virus that causes COVID-19, is a betacoronavirus, like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. All three viruses have their origins in bats, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

RELATED: What we know about the source of the coronavirus pandemic

Specifically, scientists have linked the genetic structure of the novel coronavirus to the horseshoe bat, which is common in southern and central China. The virus is "zoonotic," meaning it sprSubheadlineead from animals to humans, according to a report from 25 international experts, including some from China and the U.S., convened by the World Health Organization.

Scientists still aren’t sure how the novel coronavirus made the jump from its intermediate host to humans. But there’s no evidence that a lab created or manipulated the virus.

"Anthony Fauci knew early as January of 2017 that we would see an outbreak before the end of 2020. Even Bill Gates, a man with no medical training, knew it was coming."

— Mikki Willis, filmmaker

This is misleading. Willis made this claim in reference to Event 201, a simulation designed to help plan for a global pandemic by bringing together business, government, and public health leaders. The event took place in October 2019 and was organized by the John Hopkins Center for Health Security World Economic Forum and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to Event 201’s website, the event "simulated a novel zoonotic coronavirus transmitted from bats to pigs to people that eventually becomes efficiently transmissible from person to person, leading to a severe pandemic." The fictionalized scenario was planned in part because there have been two worldwide outbreaks of coronaviruses in the last 20 years.

On Jan. 24, 2020, the John Hopkins Center for Health Security released a statement clarifying that they had not been predicting the current coronavirus outbreak:

"To be clear, the Center for Health Security and partners did not make a prediction during our tabletop exercise. For the scenario, we modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction."

RELATED: No, Amazon’s Alexa doesn’t say 'the government' planned the coronavirus pandemic

Johns Hopkins has hosted other simulations with evocative names in recent years — including Dark Winter in 2001, Atlantic Storm in 2005, and Clade X in 2018. The World Economic Forum has said such simulations are important for preparing for the average of 200 epidemics that take place annually.

What about 2017, the year that Willis mentioned in his claim?

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a 2017 event at Georgetown University that there would be "a surprise outbreak" facing the Trump administration. But that doesn’t mean he predicted the coronavirus pandemic. Fauci talked about a wide range of diseases that emerged or intensified during his tenure at the institute, including HIV/AIDS and West Nile virus.

"A 2018 scientific study released in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that over 490,000 children in India developed paralysis as a result of the Gates-supported oral polio vaccine that was administered between the years of 2000 and 2017."

— Willis

We rated a similar claim False, as have several other fact-checkers.

The study that Willis cited is real, and it’s hosted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It found a correlation between non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and polio vaccinations given between 2000 and 2017.

However, the study has received criticism for its methodology, namely for including symptoms shown by children ages five to 15 when the oral polio vaccine campaign focused on children under the age of five. And polio is just one reason children could be paralyzed — Guillain-Barre Syndrome is also a leading cause.

In a reply to some of that criticism, the authors of the 2018 paper wrote that "non-polio AFP, by its very definition, excludes polio vaccine-induced paralysis."

RELATED: Anti-vaxxers spread conspiracy about Bill Gates and India’s polio vaccination

The Gates Foundation has long funded groups in India and elsewhere that seek to expand access to polio immunization. In March 2014, the World Health Organization declared that its Southeast Asia region was polio-free, in part because of the kinds of mass vaccination campaigns supported by the Gates Foundation. However, the virus remains a threat in South Asian countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to the WHO, it is possible to contract polio from vaccines — but it’s extremely rare. The agency estimates that 1 in 2.7 million oral doses results in vaccine-associated paralytic polio.

Since the eradication of polio in India, there have been some scares of tainted vaccines. But data from the WHO show that, between 2000 and 2017, there were 17 cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus.

"In partnership with MIT, Bill Gates has developed a new technology that allows vaccines to be injected under your skin, along with your medical records."

— Willis

We rated a similar claim Mostly False.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are seeking to address vaccine tracking challenges in developing countries by creating an invisible ink that could be injected into children along with vaccines. The idea behind the research is that the dye would provide a quick, affordable way of helping health providers keep track of a child’s vaccinations.

The Gates Foundation has contributed funds for this research, and Gates has said he supports the idea of a national tracking system to monitor the virus that causes COVID-19. But Willis’ claim lacks two pieces of context.

RELATED: Post about Bill Gates’ work on vaccine tracking distorts research, timeline

First, the MIT study began in July 2016 — more than three years before the first novel coronavirus cases emerged. It was not inspired by the current outbreak. Second, there is no evidence that it has anything to do with monitoring Americans specifically. 

We reached out to Willis and Rose, who founded the platform that hosted "Plandemic 2," but we haven’t heard back.

Now more than ever, it’s important to sort fact from fiction. Please donate to support our mission.

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Our Sources

Agence France-Presse, "Gates Foundation targeted with misleading claims about India polio vaccine campaign," July 22, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC SARS Response Timeline

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "CDC Update on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)," May 6, 2003

Chicago Tribune, "Covering the stunning fall of Judy Mikovits, researcher of XMRV and chronic fatigue," Nov. 22, 2011, accessed Aug. 18, 2020

CrowdTangle, accessed Aug. 18, 2020

Digital Freedom Platform, "Plandemic INDOCTORNATION WORLD PREMIERE," Aug. 18, 2020, "Social Media Posts Spread Bogus Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory," Jan. 24, 2020

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, "Correlation between Non-Polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis Rates with Pulse Polio Frequency in India," August 2018

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, "Comment on Dhiman, R. et al. Correlation of Non-Polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis Rate with Pulse Polio Frequency in India. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 1755"

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, "Reply to Comment on Dhiman, R. et al. Correlation of Non-Polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis Rate with Pulse Polio Frequency in India. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 1755"

The Logical Indian, "Fact Check: Were 496,000 Children In India Paralyzed Between 2000 & 2017 From ‘Bill Gates Polio Vaccine’?" May 24, 2020

MedScape, "SARS vaccines: where are we?" 2009

Melbourne Journal of International Law, "The Race to Patent the Sars Virus: The Trips Agreement and Access to Essential Medicines," Oct. 14, 2004

NBC News, "Scientists race to patent SARS virus," Nov. 4, 2003

The New York Times, "How the ‘Plandemic’ Movie and Its Falsehoods Spread Widely Online," May 20, 2020

PolitiFact, "Anti-vaxxers spread conspiracy about Bill Gates and India’s polio vaccination," April 23, 2020

PolitiFact, "Coronavirus was not a US invention," March 10, 2020

PolitiFact, "Fact-checking ‘Plandemic’: A documentary full of false conspiracy theories about the coronavirus," May 8, 2020

PolitiFact, "Post about Bill Gates’ work on vaccine tracking distorts research, timeline," April 9, 2020

PolitiFact, "These plushies do not ‘commemorate’ the 2019 Novel coronavirus strain," Feb. 3, 2020

PolitiFact, "What we know about the source of the coronavirus pandemic," April 17, 2020

Snopes, "Was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Kicked Out of India?" Oct. 24, 2019

The Verge, "Facebook blocks users from linking to new Plandemic hoax video," Aug. 18, 2020

Vice, "The YouTuber Accused of Using Coronavirus to Scam His Followers," May 21, 2020

The Wall Street Journal, "CDC Seeks Patent on SARS To Keep Discovery Public," May 7, 2003

WUSA, "VERIFY: 'Coronavirus patents' are from older viruses, not current strain," Jan. 24, 2020

WUSA, "VERIFY: In 2017 Fauci said Trump would face a surprise outbreak, but he didn't predict COVID-19," May 19, 2020

YouTube channel, London Real

YouTube video from Global Georgetown, Feb. 14, 2017

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