FEATURE: ALL THE COVID-19 CONSPIRACY THEORIES (AND THOSE THAT ARE YET TO COME)

By: Napoleon Ato Kittoe/ www.africanakua.com, Ghana

There are many Covid-19 conspiracy theories circulating online. Some of them contradict each other because one group claims that the virus was created by China while the other group claims that it was created by the USA. Others claim that it is a grand scheme by China, the USA, and other superpowers to depopulate the earth. The virus has killed less than 4000 people in China in 4 months. How can this virus, at this rate, significantly reduce a population of about 1.4 billion in China? The world’s population is 7.7 billion.  In 4 months, this virus has killed less than 36,000 people. That’s 0.0005% of the world’s population (in 4 months).

Another conspiracy theory is that the coronavirus does not exist. Instead, people are being injected with a radioactive substance or are getting radioactive substances through 5G cell towers.  More than 100 countries have the capacity to test for SARS-COV-2. There have been more than 700,000 positive test results. By the logic of these conspiracy theorists, these 700,000 confirmed cases of SARS-COV-2  are all false results. And lab technicians/scientists all over the world have colluded (including those who developed the test kits and sequenced the genome of SARS-COV-2) to lie to the world. Does this make sense? In fact, Iran, one of the worst hotspots for COVID-19, does not have a 5G network, alongside other countries like Japan and Malaysia, also hit hard by the pandemic.

Yet another theory is that China caused stock markets to fall in order buy the stocks of Western companies at very low prices and thereby dominate the world. When the price of a firm’s stock is very low, it is cheap! If a Chinese investor can buy a cheap stock, an American, Japanese, or European investor can also buy the same cheap stock. It is cheap. Donkomi price. Americans and Chinese can buy stocks in the Shanghai stock market, London Stock market, New York stock market, etc. See this  February 27, 2020 CNN article titled “Now’s the right time for investors to buy Chinese stocks” https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/investing/china-stocks-coronavirus/index.html …

 A related theory is that the fall in the price of commodities (including oil) as a result of the pandemic gives  China an economic advantage because it can buy oil at a very cheap price. Is China the only importer of oil? If it’s cheap for China, it is only cheap for all other importers of oil.

There are reports of China exporting medical supplies (gowns, gloves, masks, thermometers, ventilators, etc) to the USA and other countries. The conspiracy theorists claim that China created this pandemic to profit from it. But China is not the only country that is exporting medical supplies during this pandemic. In  a March 2020 article in the New York Times, Lizzie Litzow, an official of the USA’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, was reported to have said that: “Not all the supplies will come from China. … the United States was working with manufacturers from Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, Honduras and Mexico.” In any case, the purveyors of this conspiracy theory have to argue that there is a net gain to China because it created a pandemic that significantly reduced the world’s demand for its non-medical products but significantly increased the world’s demand for its medical supplies needed in a pandemic. Whoever finds this argument convincing does not appreciate the composition or magnitude of China’s exports. In 2006, China was the world’s leading exporter of 985 products.  The small town of Qiaotou in southeastern China produces more than 65% of all buttons on earth. By 2008, Qiatotou sold about 10,000 varieties of buttons and 5 billion buttons annually. This button capital of the world also produces 80% of the world’s zippers. Most of their products are exported. Some of these buttons and zippers are exported to businesses in Italy’s fashion industry. What does China gain by creating a pandemic that brings economic activity in Italy to a standstill?  China is an export-driven economy. Its firms and factories are not operating at pre-pandemic levels because orders from Europe, Canada, America, etc have dropped or have been cancelled. In 2019, China exported $2.8 trillion worth of goods. A global recession is not in China’s interest. See Bloomberg article below. 

If China created the virus, had a vaccine/cure for it, and wanted to spread it, why didn’t it infect some of its intelligence agents with the virus and then send them to US and Europe to infect people there? No one would have known. After a few days, they would have returned to China or would have self-medicated in their hotel rooms in Europe, America, etc. China did not have to impose so much economic cost on itself to destroy USA. And why would China target Iran, one of USA’s staunch enemies? Iran is one of the most infected countries. Biowarfare is precise and targeted at specific countries. It is not done in a non-targeted or across-the-board manner to target all countries.

And people say Russia is free of Covid-19? Russia has 1,462 cases and counting: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Outside Wuhan (Hubei province), other places/provinces in China had/have  cases of Covid-19.  They include Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Shanxi, Yunnan, Fujian, Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Anhui, Hunan, and Chongqing. China’s ability to flatten the curve is not rocket science. Being an authoritarian country, China can do things that other countries cannot do. If a virus is primarily transmitted from person to person (coughing, sneezing, etc) and from viruses (left on surfaces by people) to other people, you can stop the spread of the virus by preventing people from seeing each  other or from being within a certain radius of each other. It is not  rocket science. Add testing too. It boils down to how effectively you can implement social distancing and lockdowns. In Wuhan, people were not allowed to leave their homes at all. Food was delivered to people in their homes. Being an autocratic state, China can implement lockdowns in a manner that other countries can’t. For example, China’s hukou system was introduced in 1958 as a modern  tool for geographic, economic, political and social control. Each citizen must be registered at birth, similar to a census. Individuals who will stay more than three days in a location that is not their residence will need to acquire a temporary residence permit.

According to an article dated March 29, 2020 in Science: “… the very low case numbers (in China) may be deceptive. In its tally, China’s National Health Commission does not include people who test positive for the virus but have no symptoms, and local authorities are reportedly suppressing information on new infections to meet the target of zero local cases.” In addition, “Primary and secondary schools in several provinces have reopened, but only in communities free of the disease, and schools must check students’ temperatures and watch for symptoms. Universities, where students from around the country mix, remain closed, with classes given online. Events that draw crowds are still banned or discouraged. Live music venues and gyms in many cities remain closed. There are temperature checks at subway entrances and factory gates.”: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/can-china-return-normalcy-while-keeping-coronavirus-check

A different conspiracy theory claims that 300 athletes of the US army who participated in the 7th Military World Games in Wuhan in October last year were already infected with the virus when they landed in China. Those US military athletes were behind the spread of the deadly affliction in China. Note that the 2019 Military World Games were held from October 18 – 27, 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei, China. There were 9,308 athletes from 110 countries who competed in 27 sports: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Military_World_Games

China had 553 athletes at the games. Therefore, other than China, there were 8,755 athletes from 109 countries. After the games, these athletes (or almost all of them) returned to their countries of origin: they were in the military. Yet, between November 2019 and early January 2020, there was no outbreak of Covid-19 in any of the 110 countries except China. For this conspiracy theory to be consistent with this outcome, the following conditions must hold: (1) the infected USA athletes interacted with and/or competed against only Chinese athletes and officials, and (2) the subsequently infected Chinese athletes and officials did not compete against or interact with any athletes or officials from the other 108 countries. These conditions make no sense! Note that the virus has a high transmission rate.

Furthermore, the outbreak or the initial set of cases was only in Wuhan. It was not in other parts of China. Were the 553 members of the Chinese team and Chinese officials, some of whom were supposedly infected, all residents of Wuhan? Of course, not. Again, the conspiracy theory falls apart.

Scientists in the USA, Australia, UK, etc, who have studied the genome of this new coronavirus have concluded that “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.” This was published in March 2020 in one of the world’s top science journals (see Kristian G. Andersen, Andrew Rambaut, W. Ian Lipkin, Edward C. Holmes, Robert F. Garry. The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nature: Medicine, 2020). Other scientists agree with them. These conspiracy theorists have not investigated the properties of the virus.

Appendix:

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2020-03-26/the-second-virus-shockwave-is-hitting-china-s-factories-already

Chinese “firms are saying that canceled orders, uncertain logistics and delayed payment have become their latest headaches.”

“Manufacturers are seeing many cases where overseas clients regretted their orders or where goods can’t be delivered due to customs closures in other countries,” said Dong Liu, vice president of Fujian Strait Textile Technology Co. in southeastern China. His factory was about to resume full capacity, after the return of workers who had been stranded in Hubei province, the center of the original outbreak. “The dent on export orders is rather serious. ..

The cancellation or postponement of big sporting events, from the National Basketball Association season to the Summer Olympics, has also hit Chinese factories.

”A week or two after returning from Chinese New Year — starting from mid February — we started to feel our orders began to disappear one after another,” said Alice Zeng, whose company AQ Pins and Gifts Co. sells metal souvenirs. “First it was some marathons in Japan that were pulled. And then orders in Europe, and then the U.S.”

The firm exports 100% of its products and had been expecting a contract to supply Euro 2020, the now-canceled European football tournament. Her suppliers’ factories in Dongguan, near Hong Kong, are still busy now, but there’s not likely to be many new orders from April, Zeng said.

Napoleon Ato Kittoe is a senior journalist with the GBC and a columnist at www.africanakua.com, Ghana

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