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Michael Majchrowicz
By Michael Majchrowicz August 26, 2022

Video falsely claims monkeypox is a governmental hoax

If Your Time is short

  • The virus has infected nearly 48,000 people worldwide and killed at least 13. 

  • It is not life-threatening in most cases, but in rare cases the virus can be fatal, especially if contracted by children younger than eight, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those with weakened immune systems as well as eczema, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Most documented cases so far have been among men who have sex with men. But monkeypox is transmitted through close contact with people who are infected, meaning anyone who has close contact with others could be at risk.

Monkeypox has infected nearly 48,000 people globally, but a video spreading online suggests it’s all a hoax.

"MonkeyPox power-grabbing sham! Fake ‘outbreak’ designed to force lockdowns, mandates, and shots," read the caption on a Facebook video posted Aug. 17.

The video features a clip of conservative radio personality Stew Peters saying, "Monkeypox is a complete fake sham, just like COVID-19."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

First, we find no evidence that any lockdown measures similar to those implemented during the early days of COVID-19 pandemic have been put in place in response to monkeypox. Nor have we seen any laws mandating monkeypox vaccines. Unlike with COVID-19, monkeypox is not new — it was first detected in humans in 1970 — and there is already a vaccine for it.

Peters has a history of using inflammatory rhetoric, including making a film earlier this year that promoted the baseless theory that COVID-19 is a synthetic version of snake venom. The clip in this Facebook post comes from a 12-minute segment of Peters’ July 25 podcast "The Stew Peters Show."

As evidence that monkeypox is a "complete sham," Peters appeared to be pointing to the low number of fatalities resulting from the virus. "Even the worst countries have only a few thousand cases," Peters said in the video. "And that’s nationwide. In the United States there have been zero monkeypox deaths."

The World Health Organization on July 23 declared the ongoing monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

Invoking homophobic rhetoric before referring to monkeypox as "bogus" and "fake," Peters also implied that because gay and bisexual men comprise the majority of the virus’ patient population, nobody else is at risk of contracting it. That contradicts what we know about how monkeypox spreads.

Featured Fact-check

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 47,652 documented monkeypox cases worldwide. Thirteen of these were fatal infections, according to data compiled by  CDC, World Health Organization, European CDC and Ministries of Health.

To date, 17,431 cases have been confirmed in the United States, though none of them have been fatal. Despite the low odds of succumbing to monkeypox, public health officials have urged the general population to take the threat of the virus seriously since it can cause serious, and extremely painful, illness.

According to the CDC, monkeypox "is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, (which is) the virus that causes smallpox."

Unlike COVID-19, monkeypox is not primarily spread through airborne transmission. It is typically spread through close, often intimate, skin-to-skin contact. According to the CDC, the spread of the virus includes most often involves sexual contact, hugging, kissing, massaging or prolonged face-to-face contact with an individual who has the virus.

"At this time, data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up the majority of cases in the current monkeypox outbreak," according to guidance from the CDC. "However, anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, who has been in close, personal contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk." 

Our ruling

A video shared on Facebook carried the caption, "Monkeypox power-grabbing sham! Fake ‘outbreak’ designed to force lockdowns, mandates, and shots."

It showed a clip of Peters asserting the monkeypox outbreak was a "fake sham" and pointed to low death counts from the virus as proof.

The disease has infected nearly 48,000 people globally and killed 13. There have been no government lockdowns or vaccine mandates issued in response. It is not a sham. 

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Facebook post, Aug. 17, 2022 (archived)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "2022 Outbreak Cases and Data | Monkeypox | Poxvirus," accessed Aug. 25, 2022

The New York Times, "As Monkeypox Spreads, U.S. Declares a Health Emergency," Aug. 4, 2022 

The New York Times, "How Serious is Monkeypox?," Aug. 4, 2022

Remarks from July 23, 2022 press conference via transcript by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, accessed Aug. 25, 2022

World Health Organization, "Monkeypox" landing webpage, accessed Aug. 25, 2022

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Video falsely claims monkeypox is a governmental hoax

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