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COVID-19 pandemic

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Also see the related article COVID-19 denialism
Helpful advice on social media stories about COVID-19 from Douglas Adams… and from professional epidemiologists.[1]
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Put your hand on that television set. Hallelujah. Thank you, Lord Jesus. He received your healing. Now say it: "I take it. I have it. It's mine. I thank you and praise you for it. [...] I consider not symptoms in my own body, but only that which God has promised. Only that what the Word has said. And by His stripes, I was healed. And by His stripes, I am healed now. I am not the sick trying to get healed. I am the healed, and the Devil is trying to give me the flu!
Kenneth Copeland[2]

The COVID-19 pandemic was a pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (formerly 2019-nCoV) coronavirus,Wikipedia which causes the disease called COVID-19.[3]
It lasted from January 2020 until May 2023, when the World Health Organization declared that COVID was no longer a health emergency.[4][note 1]

The virus was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, ChinaWikipedia in December 2019 by most official accounts, but a leaked Chinese government document indicates that the first known patient was as early as November based on retrospective analyses.[5][6] The first cluster of cases, of what was initially thought to be a mysterious case of pneumonia,Wikipedia were reported to the China National Health Commission on December 30, 2019.[7][8] Chaolin Wang et al. were the first to report on the clinical features of the first 41 patients admitted to Wuhan’s Jin Yin-Tan Hospital,Wikipedia who were later confirmed on Jan 2, 2020 as being infected with COVID-19.[9] It was quickly identified as a new disease in January 2020.[10]

Since then, SARS-CoV-2 has spread from a relatively small initial-infection to over 691,770,965 cases (and 6,901,646 deaths) as of July 21, 2023.[11] On May 15, 2021, The Economist unveiled a model to estimate excess deaths worldwide during the pandemic. As of September 2021, this model estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic caused an estimated 9.5 to 18.6 million excess deaths in total (compared with the official death count on Sep 14, 2021 of 4.6 million deaths).[12][13] The World Health OrganizationWikipedia (WHO) stated that some studies put the mortality rate at 0.6%,[14] (there is substantial uncertainty about this estimate)[15] which is higher than influenza but significantly lower than other coronavirus[note 2] infections such as SARS.Wikipedia[16]

Mortality is not the sole cause of concern with COVID-19, as there is also the possibility of lasting health-effects following infection.[17] However, scientists have not researched these “lasting health-effects” in depth, as the vast majority of people who test positive (up to 80%)[18] experienced no symptoms whatsoever, leading scientists to prioritise the more severe cases that require hospitalization. There have been isolated reports of reinfection, which raise questions regarding long-term immunity.[19]

Deaths from COVID-19 mostly occur among older people — the median age of COVID-19 death ranges between 79 (USA) and 86 years old (Canada).[20] In Sweden, which adopted a "herd immunity" strategy, out of 5837 deaths, only 73 were of people younger than 50 years old.[21] COVID-19’s infection rate, somewhat paradoxically, makes it far more dangerous to society at large. More lethal diseases tend to burn out: they kill their hosts too quickly and too effectively to spread, and consequently the virus dies out in the absence of any hosts. Nevertheless, COVID-19 has been declared a public health emergency of international concernWikipedia by the World Health Organization.[22] The pandemic started out as an epidemic in China where it caused severe disruptions and lockdowns[23] before spreading to multiple nations around the globe and becoming a pandemic in the process; at one point a third of the global population were in lockdown.[24] On 6 May, 2023, the WHO announced COVID emergency is over but the coronavirus is still affecting thousands of lives every week.[25][26]

Social media, unfortunately, has promulgated: panic, misinformation, racism, and quackery related to COVID-19 far faster than the virus itself. To add insult to injury, the actions of the 45th president of the United States — Donald Trump — during the pandemic, have led to what University of Chicago economics professor Austan Goolsbee called the "pathological irony of crisis":[27]

If you lose credibility, your statements begin to mean the opposite of what you say. In other words: entreaties to "remain calm" instead get interpreted as reasons to panic, even when calm might be justified.
—Catherine Rampell[28]


Symptoms[edit]

Stay home if you have a dry cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue and fever.

COVID-19 presents symptoms similar to influenza.[29][note 3] The most common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms with varying frequency include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure, but it's important to note that many infections are completely asymptomatic. The CDC now estimates that up to 35% of cases present no symptoms. Symptoms are highly variable.

Complications[edit]

Severe complications known to be caused by COVID-19 infection include pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), multiple organ failure, and strokes (to name a few).[30][31] People in higher-risk categories are more likely to experience these problems. Children who contract COVID-19 can also experience multisystem inflammatory syndromeWikipedia.

Long COVID[edit]

Evidence is emerging that people who have had COVID can go on to develop a variety of health problems. This includes cardiovascular and lung issues, acute kidney injuries, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, depression, and anxiety.[32][33]

What science says[edit]

How self-isolation can slow the spread of the virus.

In 2020, due to COVID-19’s novelty and its rapid spread in China, COVID-19 was dubbed “a health emergency” and evaluated by all major health organizations around the world.[34] SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the disease is a betacoronavirus,Wikipedia which mostly infects batsWikipedia. Although the details are still unclear, it is suspected that this virus underwent zoonosisWikipedia — that is, it crossed over from an animal—a natural reservoir—(almost certainly a bat) to humans.[35]

SARS-CoV-2 spreads via respiratory droplets or aerosols (like suspensions of said droplets in the air) produced when an infected person coughs, talks or sneezes.[36] Airborne transmission can occur indoors, particularly in more crowded and less ventilated settings. In 2019 a Chinese CDC study demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 is more contagious than some coronaviruses like SARSWikipedia and MERS,Wikipedia, and they found that under certain conditions SARS-CoV-2 behaves more like influenza[note 4] viruses.[37][38] Unfortunately, once someone is infected, the full clinical picture of COVID-19 was not fully understood yet at the time.[34] While many people have had only mild symptoms, the disease has been deadly for some. Thus, the potential public health threats posed by COVID-19 are high, in part because of the uncertainty in 2020. COVID-19 is more lethal among the elderly, smokers, and people with chronic health conditions (like heart disease, diabetesWikipedia or COPDWikipedia).[39]

Antiviral medications have been used on COVID-19 patients, but it's not yet clear whether, or how much, they help. Antibiotics can treat secondary infections such as pneumonia.[40] Coagulase negative staphylococci (CoNS), like Staphylococcus aureus, are notable causes of acute infective endocarditis (acute IE) after Cardiac surgery,[41] and according to one study—of secondary infections in patients hospitalised with COVID-19–the majority of bloodstream infections are caused by CoNS.[42]:452 S. epidermis and S. aureus—both CoNs—are common causes of acute IE in prosthetic heart valves and in native valves.[43]:356 Fortunately patients with native valve IE can be treated with antibiotics: a combination of gentamicin with either β-lactams or vancomycin, and this has been shown in most studies to be superior to treatment with monoclonal antibodies.[43]:ibid. On the other hand, the CoNS that infect patients with prosthetic valve endocarditis tend to be resistant to β-lactams, but respond better to other antibiotics such as gentamicin.[43]:ibid.

Prevention[edit]

Disinfection vehicles in Taipei, Taiwan

Preventing COVID-19 has been a challenge because infected people may not realize they are infected, and thus unwittingly spread the disease instead of staying home or calling a doctor.[44] The CDC has tested patients with flu-like symptoms for the virus in order to help contain it.[45]

Because the transmission method is similar, prevention methods are also similar to the flu (and other respiratory viruses).[46][47][48]

  • Wash your hands regularly using soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Never spit in public
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay at least 2 meters (6 feet) away from people who are sick
  • Call a doctor if you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing
  • Stay home and avoid other people if you're sick
  • Wear a mask or other face-covering when you leave home

Due to the frequency of asymptomatic infections and mild COVID-19 cases being mistaken for cold or flu, you must assume that everyone is potentially infected, including yourself, and treat them as such in order to effectively mitigate the virus. Hence the need for masks and social distancing in any public space.

Vaccines[edit]

US airman receives a vaccine at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.
See the main article on this topic: COVID-19 vaccine

On December 2, 2020, Tozinameran, an mRNAWikipedia vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, was approved for usage starting in the United Kingdom, followed by the United States on December 11.

Moderna's mRNA-1273 vaccine received emergency use authorization in the US on December 18, 2020.[49]

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford developed AZD1222b (an adenovirus vaccine), and the UK and Argentina approved AZD1222b on December 30, 2020.[50][51] The vaccine, which was almost entirely publicly funded, was supposed to be available to any manufacturer without the need of paying royalties until the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation intervened and gave pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca an exclusive license, which had huge implications on the accessibility of the vaccine in poorer countries.[52]

Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceutical—in collaboration with the Beth Deaconess Israel Medical Center—developed the Ad26.COV2.S (an adenovirus vaccine) in Feb 2021 (WHO Background document Janssen Ad26. COV2. S, see §.“Context” p. 3).[53] On February 4, 2021 Janssen Biotech, Inc. (the Sponsor) submitted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) [cf. this addendum] request to the FDA for an “investigational vaccine intended to prevent COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2”, and clinical trials of Ad26.COV2.S began (Phase III).[54] Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which require two doses over a period of several weeks, the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine requires only one dose.

The Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology developed the Sputnik V[note 5] (a double adenovirus vector vaccine) and Russia approved Sputnik V in August 2020. However, data was not made publicly available (in the Lancet) until February 2, 2021. Trial results of Sputnik V showed a 91.6% efficacy rate, and many countries subsequently approved it for emergency use, including the UAE, Turkey, Israel, India, and Mexico. The application by the EMA is currently pending.

Summary of vaccine candidates

Efficacy against
Name Technology Doses Manufacturer Symptoms Severe disease
Comirnaty (tozinameran) mRNA 2 (3-12 weeks apart depending on country)[55][56][57] with boosters approved for the immunocompromised[58] Pfizer/BioNtech
United States Germany
66% (against delta)[59] 88% (against delta)[citation needed]
Spikevax (elasomeran) mRNA 2 (4 weeks apart)[55] with boosters approved for the immunocompromised[58] Moderna
United States
93%[60]
Covishield, Vaxzevria (ChAdOx1-S [recombinant]) Viral vector 2 (4 weeks-12 weeks apart) Oxford-AstraZeneca
United Kingdom Sweden
60% (against delta)[61] 93% (against delta)[61]
Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Viral vector 1[55] with no booster suggested yet[58] Johnson & Johnson
United States
64% (against mutations)[61] 82% (against mutations)[61]
Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) Viral vector 2 (3 weeks apart)[62] Gamaleya Research Institute
Russia
83% against delta[63] (previously reported as ~90%)[64]
Covaxin Inactivated virus 2 (4 weeks apart)[65] Bharat Biotech
India
77.8%[66] 93.4%[66]
BBIBP-CorV[67] Inactivated virus 2 (3-4 weeks apart)[67] Sinopharm
China
79%[68] 79%[68]
CoronaVac (PiCoVacc)[69] Inactivated virus 2 (2-4 weeks apart)[69] with a booster possible/required[70] Sinovac Biotech
China
51%[69] 100%[69]
Covovax[71] Protein 2 (4 weeks apart)[55] Novavax
United States
91-93%[61]

Which vaccine should you take?[edit]

The simple answer is whatever vaccine is available. While it's easy to get caught up with the headlining efficacy numbers, the fact is that it's virtually impossible to compare the vaccines in an apples-to-apples sense, given that the clinical trials were not identical. For example, the definition of "mild" vs "severe" disease can vary, and some trials required regular blood draws to test for asymptomatic infections, while others only looked for symptoms. Furthermore, some vaccines were tested against emerging variants of the virus, while others were tested only against the "classic" version. Demographics varied wildly as well, with South African testing having to deal with the country's high HIV+ rate. While all the approved vaccines are effective, don't get too hung up on the efficacy numbers.

Given all that, however, there is one comparison that can be made. In all cases, the vaccines were 100% effective against death, and anywhere from 85%-100% effective against disease requiring hospitalization. All these vaccines meet established standards for efficacy against infection, and all of them virtually eliminate the chance of hospitalization or death. Even if you do get infected, you will be protected from the worst outcomes. If nothing else, that alone can turn COVID-19 from a public health crisis into just another bug. Do not hesitate to get any vaccine available to you, as soon as it is available.

Mortality risk[edit]

Confirmed cases by country

Most people whom SARS-CoV-2 infects survive. On Aug 4, 2020, the WHO epidemiologist Maria Van KerkhoveWikipedia said that several studies estimate COVID-19’s mortality rate at 0.6%,[14] with other estimates ranging from 0.16% to 4.9%.[72] The variability in death rates has been attributed to the availability of care facilities, which in Wuhan, with a death rate of 4.9%, were particularly overtaxed.[72] This compares with the seasonal-flu death-rate of 0.1%.[73] Whilst the mortality rates of COVID-19 are less than those of the 14th-century Black Death and the 1918 influenza, they may still make COVID-19 the most devastating pandemic of the 21st century.[citation needed] Because the virus is highly infectious, the total number of deaths is likely to be quite high[74]

The fatality risk is higher in senior citizens, people who don’t have access to quality healthcare, and amongst people with certain comorbidities (e.g. cardiovascular disease, immunocompromised conditions like AIDS; diabetes, respiratory illnesses, hypertension, and cancer).[75] While these people still have at least a 75% chance of survival if infected,[76] they and their loved ones should take extra care to reduce the risk of infection. Hospital systems become overwhelmed when certain groups don't take the virus seriously. Access for other medical emergencies and quality of care suffer. Despite the disease SARS (c. 2002)—caused by the virus SARS-CoV-1–having a much higher mortality rate, COVID-19 has killed significantly more people, and since it does not kill as many of its (sometimes asymptomatic) hosts enables it to spread further.[77]

Those who do die undergo a bleak journey, where the virus eats away one's ability to breathe in stages that care staff are increasingly powerless to treat—if one does get to a hospital.[citation needed] The vaccinated who are hospitalised tend to only reach the first stage. Beyond that stage, one's prospects grow ever dimmer.[78]

Causation myths[edit]

Big brain time in London: "Mainstream Media LiERS[sic] 5G = Covid".

Unscientific 5G fears[edit]

See the main article on this topic: 5G
Harmless radiation has a large wavelength, too gentle to harm your molecular structure. (Think of it like the difference between gently rocking a baby to sleep versus shaking a baby at high speeds: one is safe and the other is definitely not.)
—Luna Rose at wikiHow[79]

Some people, like conspiracy nutcase Kerry Cassidy, believe that 5G radiation causes coronavirus. These people understand neither radiation nor viruses.

Only some forms of radiation are dangerous. "Ionizing" radiation (which is dangerous) is high-energy with a wavelength so short it can disrupt electrons and break molecular bonds. Exposure to this radiation is dangerous because it can break apart molecules and DNA. "Non-ionizing" radiation has a long wavelength, and unlike base-station radios or microwave ovens, cell phones have a very low transmission power of less than a watt, so it can't disrupt anything. 5G is also non-ionizing, with a wavelength comparable to microwaves and radio stations.[80]

Needless to say, there's no scientific backing for such 5G hysteria. Areas with high infection rates aren't clustered in areas that have 5G,[81] and people on cruises without 5G have also fallen ill.[80] Germs are the problem here, not invisible waves. Germs don't propagate via radiation. In fact, with certain forms of radiation — intense UVC-spectrum ultraviolet light, a form of ionizing radiation — you actually can destroy all viruses exposed to the radiation and achieve sterility.[note 6][82]

Setting fire to 5G towers (as apparently has happened in at least 50 cases as of April 21, 2020)[83] will cure nothing. However, it might get you arrested for arson and sent to prison where you could breathe the same air as infected inmates.[84] Harassing poor telecom technicians won't help stop COVID-19 either.[85] Celebrities spreading anti-5G nonsense don't know what they're talking about, either.[86]

Eating bats[edit]

In January 2020, a viral video showing a young Chinese woman eating a whole bat with chopsticks quickly spread across social media. In reporting on this video, the Daily Mail (naturally) called it "revolting footage" while winking and nudging that "scientists link the deadly coronavirus to the flying mammals".[87] The problem is, the video in question (filmed in 2016, several years before the virus outbreak even began) was regarding travel blogger Wang Mengyun eating a bat in Palau,Wikipedia a Pacific Island nation where bat-oriented cuisine is common.[88][89] Sadly, Wang received racist hate mail and even death threats.[90] Yet the Daily Mail and their culinarily stunted audience pays no attention to their own abusive and filthy food industry that requires pumping drugs to treat animals sickened by the industry.

Scientists haven't yet produced sufficient evidence that eating bats caused the virus' bat-to-human jump.[91] There are many ways for zoonotic transmission to occur – transmission is complex with many variables. The virus may have an intermediate host between bat and human, but scientists aren't too sure.[91]

Claims that the virus was engineered[edit]

The scientific consensus "overwhelmingly conclude(s) that this coronavirus originated in wildlife."[92] Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 shows that it shares about 96% of its RNA with an RaTG13 coronavirus strain found in a bat,[note 7] and has mutations that are less likely to have been the byproduct of artificial selection; the scientific consensus continues to be that an animal is the most likely source of SARS-CoV-2.[94][95][96][97][98][99] The death rate of SARS-CoV-2 is 2%, and it's estimated that an average infected human can infect two and a half humans,[100] this reality runs contrary to the conspiracy as the whole point of a bioweapon is to kill people. Why the hell would the Chinese government want to piss off other governments by infecting their citizens and government officials?[101][102][103] At least with this conspiracy, it is somewhat realistic and would operate within the laws of physics, unlike the other conspiracies.

Naturally, when conspiracy theorists are confronted about these contradictions, they say that yes, these government officials are being assassinated in the most attention-grabbing way possible, that would attract the imagination and alarm of the panicking public. It didn't help that Nobel-Prize-winner-turned-nutcase Luc Montagnier‎‎ claimed that the virus was semi-synthetic based on genetic data analysis of the study.[104] The claim was quickly refuted by another analysis.[105][106] One study explicitly refuted the plausibility of laboratory origin due to similarities to recently evolved zoological versions of coronavirus.[107]

Yet a minority view is that of taking an accidental lab leak seriously. In this view, the virus was not a terrifying weapon, likely not engineered at all but just stored, though it could possibly have been of interest to the research and development of weapons. For example, one author of the "Proximal Origins" paper, Kristian Andersen, has claimed that a lab leak origin is "highly likely."[108] While "highly likely" is at odds with the general consensus, it's also true that the evidence does not allow conclusively ruling out a lab origin. However, as other researchers behind the paper point out, neither is there evidence anywhere near strong enough to base accusations on.[109] But that hasn't stopped conspiracy theorists from making wilder claims and pointing fingers in a variety of directions.

Blaming Chinese scientists[edit]

Early indications during the pandemic showed that the first cluster of viruses may have originated from a "wet marketWikipedia" in Wuhan.[110] In a pre-print paper that was quickly withdrawn after appearing on ResearchGateWikipedia, Chinese scientists Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao proposed that the virus might have actually come from either the Wuhan Center for Disease Control & Prevention, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, both of which are near the wet market in question.[111] Always willing to spread bullshit on anything health related, the "story" was picked up by the Daily Mail with the usual alarmist headline.[112] Even the Daily Mirror,Wikipedia couldn't help JAQing off on the subject as well.[113] On US shores, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) repeated this bullshit on Fox News and subsequently accused the Chinese government of lying about COVID-19.[114]

Zero Hedge went even further. Claiming that the virus was spreading because it was a "weaponized version of the coronavirus" originally from Canada, Zero Hedge sought to seek out who was responsible for this coronavirus. So they cobbled together some criteria for narrowing down who "created" the virus from a job posting on the Wuhan Institution of Virology's website. Using these random criteria, they focused on one Chinese scientist in particular who was focused on bat virus infections and immunity and claimed that he created SARS-CoV-2. At that point, they decided to doxx the scientist, because of fucking course they would.[115] This was enough to get them permanently suspended from Twitter.[116]

Why did Zero Hedge think the virus came from Canada? Because of yet another bullshit rumor: in July 2019, virologist Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, her husband, and some of her students from China were removed from Canada's National Microbiology LaboratoryWikipedia in Winnipeg over a "policy breach". Not only did social media rumors link COVID-19 to these individuals, but baseless claims were made that Dr. Qiu and her husband were part of a "spy team" that had sent "pathogens to the Wuhan facility", and that her husband "specialised in coronavirus research".[117]

Memes spread online on how the Wuhan Institute of Virology's logo is similar to that of "Umbrella Corporation", a shady agency responsible for making the virus that starts the zombie apocalypse in the Resident EvilWikipedia video game series. But the logo that inspired the meme belongs to a different company altogether (namely Shanghai Ruilan Bao Hu San Biotech Limited, located in Shanghai, 500 miles from Wuhan).[118]

On February 24, 2020, Rush Limbaugh repeated the bullshit that COVID-19 was a weaponized "ChiCom[note 8] laboratory experiment" on his radio program. Unusually for a crank, he actually downplayed the risks, actually reporting the correct approximate survival rate right of 98% (the mortality rate of COVID-19 on February 24, 2020 was around 2.3%).[119] However, he mistakenly said that this was "a far lower death statistic than any form of influenza" (the mortality rate of influenza in the United States is usually 0.1%).[120] More to his style, he declared that "the coronavirus is the common cold" for some reason, and politicized COVID-19 media coverage by complaining that the "Drive-By Media" was "weaponizing" COVID-19 "as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump".[121][note 9]

Limbaugh's bullshit was repeated by Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, both accusing the media and the Democratic party of "weaponizing fear".[123] This is ironic coming from a cable news network notorious for exploiting fear.[124]

In fact, FOX news has spread so much bullshit from its relatively prominent media position downplaying the virus to the point where network insiders privately worry that should a strong connection be made between Fox News disinformation and deaths, they could be sued and held liable.[125][note 10]

Blaming Bill Gates[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Bill Gates
That's supposed to be Bill Gates, but Ben Garrison is a bit too used to drawing Soros. Also, the unironic 666 is hilarious.
BillGatesChip.jpeg

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a charity dedicated to global philanthropy, using Bill Gates' massive wealth earned during his days as CEO of Microsoft. Much of this philanthropy is dedicated to concerns about world health. As such, the foundation has plenty of experience with past epidemics and pandemics, ranging from long-lasting historical pandemics such as HIV/AIDS to epidemics caused by novel viruses such as the Ebola virus outbreak in AfricaWikipedia. Based on their experience fighting these diseases, the foundation has been warning about the risk of a pandemic disease for years — correctly predicting for instance in a 2015 TED talkWikipedia (after the Ebola outbreak) that the world would not be ready should a large-scale pandemic occur.[127]

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has actively led efforts to fight COVID-19, and spending$100 million $250 million $300 million in funding to do this.[128][129][130] Unfortunately, it became a major target of the conspiracy industrial complex over the months that the disease progressed. Gates' strong links with world health programs, as well as his vocal opposition to Trump's policies (like Trump's slowass response to the virus and cutting funding for the World Health OrganizationWikipedia in the middle of the pandemic) have triggered the conspiracy industrial complex to actually accuse Bill Gates of creating the virus that fueled COVID-19. In the past, Gates, due to remarks about vaccines reducing child mortality and therefore naturally reducing the number of children that couples wish to have, had been a target of those who embrace depopulation conspiracy theories, particularly among those who embrace the anti-vaccination movement.[131] Conspiracy theorists have naturally combined the two into the notion that Bill Gates created the virus to cull or survey the global population.[132]

An example of the strange thought process involved here came early during the outbreak from, as always, the depths of QAnon. Prominent QAnut YouTuber Jordan Sather mistakenly thought a patent for an avian IBVWikipedia vaccine,[133] created by farm animal infectious disease research institution Pirbright Institute,Wikipedia was actually a patent for a COVID-19 vaccine. Because the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded some of the institute's other research, Sather connected the two, leading to the rumor that Gates created the virus, a theory which soon spread like wildfire across conspiracy blogs.[134]

Naturally, the conspiracy metamorphosed to the point where Bill Gates completely owned the "patent on coronavirus". In a Natural News article, the chicken coronavirus vaccine patent strangely proved to them that COVID-19 was "just another weaponized viral strain designed to sell more useless, deadly vaccines, while at the same time killing off a few thousand, or perhaps a few million, people." (Naturally, this is just another article from Natural News designed to happily sell paranoid useless dietary supplements).[135]

Another example came due to Gates' participation in a high-level pandemic exercise called Event 201, which was sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health SecurityWikipedia in October 2019.[136] Players in the exercise were presented with a scenario where a fictional coronavirus (i.e., not SARS-CoV-2) started in pig farms in Brazil and then spread around the world, leading to a (fictional) 65 million deaths.

Naturally, this morphed into sites like Infowars putting up alarmist headlines like "BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION & OTHERS PREDICTED UP TO 65 MILLION DEATHS VIA CORONAVIRUS — IN SIMULATION RAN 3 MONTHS AGO!". This naturally means, according to Infowars, that Gates is one of the "globalists who own the patent to the virus and predicted its rise". These "globalists", according to Infowars, are intentionally spreading the disease "so groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation can step in and become saviors". Naturally, Infowars is "wise to the activities of the Gates' and the global elite's depopulation agenda!" (Like Natural News, their article is also designed to sell useless dietary supplements; it is uncertain how wise Infowars readers are to this.)[137][138]

Since then, Bill Gates-oriented conspiracy theories have frequently appeared on Infowars.[139] Infowars' unhinged conspiratorial rants include comparing the (false) population control theory to Nazi eugenics[140] and describing a (bogus) initiative from Gates to "vaccinate and microchip every human being on Earth in the name of combating the coronavirus pandemic". (Naturally, Infowars is happy to remind you in the midst of this doom and gloom that they are now accepting pre-orders for their healthy and delicious storable food!)[141]

As a result of all of this disinformation, in a Yahoo News / YouGov survey conducted between May 20 and 21, 2020, 44 percent of Republicans believed that Bill Gates was plotting to use a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign to implant microchips in billions of people and monitor their movements. Only 26 percent of Republicans were able to identify this story as false.[142] There is concern that this widespread belief in conspiracies over science will make any vaccination effort difficult in the United States, and thus hamper abilities to combat the pandemic once a vaccine is available.

The impact of the disinformation is not just limited to the United States. On May 14, Sara Cunial, a politician from the Five Star Movement who had been suspended from the party for likening vaccines to "free genocide", in both an online speech made in the Italian Parliament (much to other members' chagrin) and a Facebook post,[143] called for Gates to be arrested by the International Criminal Court for "crimes against humanity", and claimed that "the real goal of all of (the search for a COVID-19 vaccine) is total control... absolute domination of human beings, transformed into guinea pigs and slaves, violating sovereignty and free will."[note 11] A small protest against Gates happened in Melbourne, Australia in early May. Anti-Gates signs appeared in England, and Gates was the focus of anti-lockdown protests in Germany that occurred in mid-May.[147][148]

Conservapedia's take[edit]

As a curious subtext of its germ theory denialism, Conservapedia has blamed a combination of not following Kosher (Mosaic) dietary laws, and rampant atheism (naturally) and Communism in China:[149]

The Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is an example of a deadly disease arising in animals deemed to be "unclean" by the Mosaic Law for human consumption, such as bats, snakes, cats and camels. In addition, developing countries in which basic needs — including hygiene — is poor, income is scarce, or are run by corrupt and/or atheistic cultures and governments there is often a history of poverty and famine; their societies in turn would develop a culture reflecting a wider variety of foods eaten (see: Atheism and economics). Where people consume such animals in poorly regulated food markets with poor health systems (see: Atheist hospitals in China and Atheism and medicine and Atheist hospitals) — especially if the food item is improperly prepared and cooked - a coronavirus can take hold in the human population and then spread rapidly to other people.

The article on Conservapedia was written mainly by Conservapedia:RobSmith.[150] The section on Mosaic law and atheophobia was apparently approved by Andrew Schlafly.[151]

In a nutshell[edit]

Depending on whichever conspiracy you want to believe in, the bullshit theories are...

  • Coronavirus is an American biological weapon
  • Coronavirus is a Chinese chemical weapon
  • COVID-19 is caused by 5G towers
  • It's all planned by Bill Gates to sell you vaccines
  • The vaccines are designed by Bill Gates to put microchips in your bloodstream
  • The virus isn’t real
  • It's just the flu
  • The virus is designed to make the masses obey the government
  • The virus is actually good for you – that's why governments try to stop it!
  • The virus was made to kill off the elderly and/or the poor
  • The virus was made to make the rich richer and the poor poorer
  • Doctors have been silenced when trying to tell people that the virus is fake
  • There is a New World Order as a result of COVID-19
  • It's all a plandemic

Conspiracy theories, paranoia and the blame game[edit]

See the main articles on this topic: Conspiracy theories and Paranoia

When a new pandemic arises, it's easy for people to collectively start searching for anyone, anything to blame. Sometimes the blame game extends into batshit insane conspiracy theory territory.

Empty shelves in a Virginia supermarket due to panic buying.Wikipedia

In the world of social media, disinformation about the virus proliferated as fast as the virus itself. The disinformation from the usual sources got so bad that stupid stuff like obvious shitpost-style "jokes" about EminemWikipedia being the first celebrity with COVID-19 (parodying Eminem lyrics in the process),[152] satirical warnings not to pop bubble wrap,[153] and "realistic" conspiracy-oriented horror fiction about COVID-19 cover-ups posted on Reddit[154] got misrepresented as factual. YouTube, despite ostensibly removing posts with medical misinformation, has seen COVID-19 conspiracy-oriented media flourish and thrive.[155]

Perhaps the most notable piece of COVID-19 misinformation in social media was a video called Plandemic: The Hidden Agenda Behind COVID-19. Produced by Mikki Willis and his production company Elevate (a company whose general aim is to produce "socially conscious media"[156] but has promoted conspiracy-oriented material in the past)[157], the film focuses on former researcher Judy Mikovits.Wikipedia Very similar to the story of the bullshit that happened with autism and vaccines, Mikovits attempted to link a newly discovered retrovirus to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, only to have the paper fully retracted when nobody could replicate the results. Like Andrew Wakefield (who tried and failed to link autism and vaccines), instead of accepting the results and moving on, after some legal shenanigans (such as getting arrested for stealing research from a lab she was terminated from) she hopped on board the profitable conspiracy crank circuit by feeding those susceptible to anti-vaccination bullshit exactly what they want to hear. (It's no surprise that Plandemic doubles as a promotion for a book Mikovits is publishing soon.)[158][159] Fortunately, the film is literally full of bullshit point after bullshit point, making it easy for publications to thoroughly debunk every claim it attempts to make. (Major debunkings include articles at NPR[160] and The AtlanticWikipedia[161] among many others.)

Of course, Vladimir Putin's government played a significant role in spreading misinformation (as if the Russians weren't satisfied with simply interfering with politics and funding terrorists in order to carve out pieces of land for itself). In the United States, officials said thousands of Russian-backed social media accounts were coordinating a misinformation campaign to spread coronavirus conspiracy theories. Of course, the Russian government responded to these reports as "fake."[162] This behavior is unsurprising, as Russian bots were previously identified as spreading vaccine hysteria in the United States, and KGB coordinated a misinformation campaign in the 1980s that American scientists were responsible for creating the AIDS virus.[163][164]

The disinformation was not limited to just social media. For instance, early in February, the World Population Project at the University of SouthamptonWikipedia published research predicting where people from Wuhan had traveled to in the two weeks prior to Wuhan being locked down under quarantine. The researchers on this project posted a series of messages about their work on Twitter. One of these messages included a side point, with a map illustrating global air travel traffic (basically, all the flight paths in the world, nothing more) just to show the extent of the global air network. Somehow, tabloids such as the Sun took the global air traffic map to be an actual "HORRIFYING" map showing "the unstoppable spread of the deadly coronavirus across the globe".[165]

Ben Garrison weighs in. Can you count the conspiracy theories? Bigger challenge: can you count the labels?

Misinformation about the state of China[edit]

  • In February 2020, a viral video supposedly showing a chaotic scene in Wuhan circulated, where posters claimed that people were "shooting down all the people with the virus in China". This in fact was a mixture of several mislabeled videos, such as a video where firework explosions were being heard in the background, and a scene from a fatal motorcycle accident.[166]
  • In late February 2020, Mark Richards (as reported by his admirer Kerry Cassidy) said that 30,000 Chinese had already died, and 40,000 had been "taken off-world by Reptilians assisting China in their drive to eliminate approx. 500 million people."[167] He added that "other governments are using it to facilitate eliminating some of their populations as well." Richards is a convicted murderer serving life without parole in a California prison and has very limited access to sources.
  • Hal Turner, of course, also contributed to the misinformation by maintaining a webpage with "news" on the "Coronavirus in China"[168]. The page headline ups the ante on the pandemic numbers that cranks are pulling out of their asses, reporting for instance on February 13, 2020 that "2.8 Million (are) Infected" and "112,000 (are) DEAD" from COVID-19 (far exceeding official statistics, which were 60,416 cases and 1,370 deaths at that time.)[169] Other bullshit statements include claims that the dead are "being taken directly to incinerators" to be burned, that the virus is different than SARSWikipedia because it "causes rapid kidney failure", and an absolute certain prediction that the pandemic will cause Chinese society to collapse and "set in motion a global economic shockwave from which the planet will be unable to recover for decades." For believers of this nonsense, Hal is happy to direct you to vendors for surgical masks and MREsWikipedia.
  • Steve Bannon's front group, the Rule of Law Foundation, shared a bogus study claiming that COVID-19 was created in a lab, which was immediately busted by actual biologists.[170]

Vaccine misinformation[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Anti-vaccination movement

Naturally, the worldwide rollout of vaccines have sparked the ire of one of the most common of conspiracy theories: the anti-vaxxers. Arguments put forward against the safety of the vaccines include:

  • The overblown increased risk of heart inflammation (or myocarditis) as a side effect. For example, a US DoD study of vaccinated male military service members found 23 cases of myocarditis unattributable to infectious, ischemic, or autoimmune causes, whereas only 8 or less were anticipated.[171][172] While this may initially seem alarming, the study mentions that this is against the background of roughly 436,000 male service members who have received their second vaccine, meaning the difference in odds of having heart inflammation is 0.0018% to 0.0046%. The study also mentions that for most diagnosed with myocarditis, symptoms generally resolved within a week.

Snake oil[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Snake oil
I believe in getting immunity the old-fashioned way: By letting a bat virus take control of my lungs and turn my face into a disgusting plague fountain while my immune system desperately Googles 'how to make spike protein antibodies'.
xkcd[173]

When a new disease emerges, scammers are guaranteed to offer you bullshit cures that will "protect" you from COVID-19, and, in fact, every disease known to man. The only thing these treatments cure is your wallet of pecunitis (money disease).

Colloidal silver[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Colloidal silver
Colloidal silver

Colloidal silver has long been promoted as a cure for every known disease (despite the fact that the only proven effect of ingesting silver is argyriaWikipedia, e.g. you may look like a SmurfWikipedia) or Na'vi.[174] Naturally, many people started hawking colloidal silver as a bullshit cure for COVID-19 shortly after the pandemic began, despite it being as effective as repairing Hiroshima with Band-Aids.[175]

Disgraced evangelical preacher Jim Bakker has pushed "Optivida Silver Solution", a colloidal silver formulation,[176] for some time as a cure for every known disease.[177] In February 2020, he started pushing his silver solution as something that "totally eliminated, deactivated" "the coronavirus".[178] In March 2020, Bakker was sued by the state of Missouri for peddling fake Coronavirus cures on his TV show.[179] The New York Attorney General followed suit, ordering Bakker to cease peddling this bullshit,[180] and the United States Food and Drug Administration followed up with warnings to Bakker for selling these unapproved cures.[181]

Shortly after Bakker got his warning to cease and desist making unproven claims about colloidal silver, Alex Jones and his website Infowars also received cease-and-desist letters, for they were also selling colloidal silver.[182][183]

Chlorine dioxide bleach[edit]

Chlorine dioxide chemical diagram

In recent years, chloride dioxide bleach Miracle Mineral Supplement has emerged (largely thanks to the efforts of quack doctor Jim Humble) as yet another substance that cures every known disease. Naturally, some people decided that these quack "cures" also extended to COVID-19. (It is true that if you die from bleach poisoning, there will be nothing to worry about from SARS-CoV-2. Of course, you won't be capable of worrying about anything.)

The first major MMS promotion came from the bowels of QAnon. After Jordan Sather blamed Bill Gates for COVID-19, he then said that he was going to "MMS the whole shit out of everything". This led to MMS being touted as a "cure" for COVID-19, with this snake oil spreading among those receptive to the conspiracy theory that Gates created SARS-CoV-2. Other prominent QAnuts also tweeted in support.[184]

Tragically, Bolivia's Senate fully embraced MMS in July 2020, officially endorsing it as a "treatment" for COVID-19, despite medical warnings from Bolivia's own goddamn health ministry.[185] Bolivia's lower house of parliament followed up by approving the "solution" in August 2020.[186] The Senate majority leader threatened to leave the World Health OrganizationWikipedia if the WHO continued to warn people that drinking bleach is a really, really bad idea.[187] Meanwhile, in neighboring Ecuador, ten Catholic bishops became so pissed off at the country's health minister, Juan Carlos Zevallos, for actually being reasonable and insisting that drinking bleach is bad for one's health, that they sent a public letter to President Lenin MorenoWikipedia demanding his resignation.[188][189]

Pitching supplements with paranoia[edit]

Hucksters who scam money from their marks by frightening people into purchasing their supplements and survivalism products naturally saw dollar signs when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

Natural News, never one to miss the opportunity to direct the paranoid and conspiratorial towards the arms of the profitable supplements businesses that support them, launched a separate site called "Pandemic News"[190] dedicated to spreading bullshit about the virus. Their home page has been changed to add a counter with the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths, with one line for the (allegedly) "rigged" official infected and death counts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and another for the (allegedly) "realistic" infected and death counts of the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring numbers that they pulled out of their anuses.[191] Among their bullshit suggestions are articles that COVID-19 can be treated by "intravenous vitamin C"[192] and "all-natural oxygen therapy".[193]

Infowars, as usual looking to direct the paranoid and conspiratorial into the arms of their profitable supplements businesses, have also increased their marketing efforts to hawk their expensive bulk freeze-dried food packages, while simultaneously spreading wild conspiracy theories about COVID-19... even evoking cannibalism in their sales pitches that evoke total societal collapse.[194]

Naturally, scams that exploited the paranoid also abounded. One example was a site selling a "Pandemic Survival" book. The book naturally mixed conspiracy theories and paranoia with a promotion of a supplement called "BioDefend" (or "BioImmune", depending on whether you looked at the text or the product photograph). Reportedly this supplement was "chocked full of Vitamin C and other essential herbs and vitamins" and would "support your body to help fight off harmful germs and viruses".[195] While the PDF file is available for free, the people behind "Pandemic Survival" set up several spamWikipedia emails and malvertisingWikipedia campaigns that all point to scam websites (in many cases, faked to look like mainstream news sources). On these sites, you could pay $37 for the privilege of downloading this free conspiracy theory PDF.[196]

Herbal and traditional medicine[edit]

During the pandemic, several countries turned to herbal and traditional medicine to try to cure COVID-19... despite there not being any evidence that the products do any good. Some of these medicines have even earned official endorsements from government agencies.

In China, fans of traditional Chinese medicine used a formula called "shuanghuanglian" (invented, as traditionally as you'd expect, in the '60s) to combat the virus. Made of honeysuckle, Chinese skullcap, and forsythia, the formula quickly sold out across the country, despite the fact that (in keeping with how most traditional Chinese medicine doesn't really work that well) there's no evidence that this formula does anything for COVID-19.[197] A drug called Kaletra (a.k.a., lopinavir/ritonavir,Wikipedia used to treat HIV/AIDS) was also in high demand, despite the fact that there is no evidence that this could help treat COVID-19 either.[198]

India actually issued a government notice[199] detailing approved ayurvedic and homeopathic methods for "prevention of coronavirus infections". There is no evidence that any of this did a thing for COVID-19 beyond being a placebo.[200]

Meanwhile, President of {{wpl|Madagascar} Andry RajoelinaWikipedia has promoted an herbal tea based on sweet wormwood (Artemisia annuaWikipedia) as a cure for COVID-19; there is no evidence that this plant does anything of the sort.[201] However, that hasn't stopped other leaders, like TanzaniaWikipedia's president John MagufuliWikipedia, from touting this snake oil. [202]

In Iran, prominent clerics promoted bullshit quack "cures", like cotton wool drenched in violet oil and inserted into one's anus, or the "Prophet's Perfume" — which in a social media video, one cleric named Morteza Kohansal went around dabbing on COVID-19 patients, without protective gear, in a hospital he was not authorized to be in. None of this cures COVID-19 either; in fact, some top clerics who relied on herbal remedies have succumbed to the disease, and one patient in Kohansal's "Prophet's Perfume" video also died from the disease.[203][204]

Cannabis and CBD[edit]

Various companies and people have been promoting cannabis and CBD for COVID cures and/or symptoms. The claims are sketchy at best and if based on anything at all, would be based on very weak evidence of in vitro tests of individual cannabis chemicals. Among the many examples are:

  • "Finest Herbalist", a company that manufactures a CBD product called "Pure Herbal Total Defense Immunity Blend" was ordered by New York Attorney General Letitia James on April 2 to cease marketing its products as effective COVID-19 treatments.[205]
  • Peter Jonathan Hanna, a member of a Unification Church sect called ("World Peace and Unification Sanctuary Church") and a QAnut/survivalist,[206] has promoted cannabis as a cure for COVID.[207] Hanna also claims that his family has had the coronavirus.[208][209]
  • Kyle Turley, ex-football player and cannabis company owner, has claimed that "cannabis will prevent and cure" COVID-19.[210][209]

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Online, other miscellaneous bullshit prevention methods spread across social media, such as one purported to be sent by "NWLLAB" telling you to "keep your throat moist", "avoid fried or spicy food", and "load up on vitamin C".[211]
  • Chiropractors pretend that if you pay them lots of money, they can then manipulate your spine and give you supplements to both prevent and cure COVID-19.[212]
  • In New Zealand, the Destiny Church, a fundamentalist religious cult built around its leader, self-styled Bishop Brian Tamaki, has made a number of irresponsible statements and claims. At a Sunday service he claimed, "Satan has control of atmospheres unless you are born-again Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, Holy Ghost-filled, tithe-paying believer".[213] He has also claimed that he can ignore the New Zealand government's ban on gatherings of more than 500 people and remain open because prayer will protect his congregation, so long as they pay their tithes, naturally.

Calling Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine… Doctor Trump[edit]

A 2023 study of conservative vs. moderate and liberal physician behavior published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that conservative doctors were more likely to reject standard medical care for COVID and also more likely to recommend discredited treatments like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.[214]

Chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine[edit]

President Trump at the CDC, more concerned about winning re-election than the ongoing crisis.

"Doctor" Trump[215] himself recommended taking experimental drugs (specifically hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin)[216] because, in his own words:

—Donald Trump[217][218][219]

Trump's own handpicked expert on COVID, Dr. Anthony Fauci, strongly disagreed with Trump that these drugs should be used by the general public.[217] When asked by a reporter, Fauci replied:

The information that you're referring to specifically is anecdotal. It was not done in a controlled clinical trial, so you really can't make any definitive statement about it.
—Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases[217]

Obviously, taking pharmaceuticals for off-label uses, as Trump recommended, can be lethal. In the case of hydroxychloroquine, the toxic dose is as low as 20 mg/kg body weight, and the lethal dose as low as 30 mg/kg.[220] Hydroxychloroquine also suppresses the immune system,[221] potentially making a COVID infection worse. "What do you have to lose?", said Trump.[222]

The question should actually be, 'What does Trump have to gain?' This is because Trump as well as several of Trump's ASSociates, including Wilbur Ross and Ken Fisher, are directly or indirectly invested in companies that manufacture hydroxychloroquine.[223] In the big scheme of Trump's finances, his own personal investment in hydroxychloroquine manufacture is miniscule,[224] but would it surprise you if a billionaire helped out a crony or that a billionaire would try to chisel a nickel from the pavement of a busy street sidewalk?

Yes, this is a real image from the U.S. Navy.

There is an association — although causation has not been established — between both hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine[225] and azithromycin[226][227] with adverse cardiac events. This is another reason not to self-medicate with these drugs.

Only a day after Trump's stupid recommendation, two cases of chloroquine poisonings from self-medication were reported in Nigeria; health workers in Nigeria (and elsewhere) had to warn Nigerians against self-medication.[228] On March 23, 2020, it was announced that an American man died and that his wife was in critical condition after both ingested "chloroquine phosphate,[note 12] an additive commonly used in aquariums to clean fish tanks."[229]

Chloroquine, one of the first synthetic anti-malarial drugs, is not as effective at malaria prevention and treatment as it used to be due to parasite resistance. However, it's effective in the treatment of a few diseases, including lupus, amebiasis and rheumatic disease.[230] Due to Trump's shitty promotion of chloroquine, US stocks of chloroquine were nearly exhausted in under a week, likely causing severe medical consequences for patients who relied on it.[231] It is a drug which is falling out of use for any treatment, as hydroxychloroquine is generally much better tolerated and more effective. HCQ is generally well-tolerated enough that it can be taken daily for the treatment of diseases such as RA and lupus, and is widely prescribed for said diseases.

Quack Doctor Mehmet Oz announced on Fox News that he was testing this drug cocktail, and was immediately repudiated on Fox by US Surgeon General Jerome Adams (a Trump appointee no less).[232]

The researcher behind this shitshow was Didier RaoultWikipedia (1952–), who besides publishing a shitty paper on hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (non-randomized, no true control group, bad ethical practice, confounding factors, missing patients from the analysis, as well as dubious peer review) in the publication International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA), has also been caught falsifying data in the past.[233][234][235][236][237] Raoult has cast doubt on randomized trials generally, as well as on the value of scientific consensus.[234][237] Incidentally, Raoult has also broadened his 'research' by denying climate change[238] and Darwinian evolution (and its Modern Synthesis).[234][239]

Two of the IJAA article's co-authors are Raoult and Jean Marc Rolain.[235] Rolain is the editor-in-chief of IJAA[240] and Rolain is a subordinate of Raoult at the Institut hospitalo-universitaire.Wikipedia Due to the editor-in-chief being a co-editor, the peer review process was passed on to an unnamed associate editor,[241] which actually adhered to peer review rules, though the 1-day turnaround time was still suspicious.[233][234] On April 3, the International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, which publishes IJAA, took the unusual step of issuing a non-retraction notice regarding the paper:[241][242]

ISAC shared the concerns regarding this article being published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA). The ISAC Board believed the article does not meet the Society’s expected standard, especially relating to the lack of better explanations of the inclusion criteria and the triage of patients to ensure patient safety.

That said, there is in vitro (that is, in a petri dish) evidence that chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine is effective at inhibiting SARS-CoV-2,[243] and there are several plausible mechanisms of action that have been discovered. It's believed that HCQ could potentially alter the PH of cells, thereby preventing SARS-CoV-2 from binding, and it could also allow more zinc into the cell, which would change the composition of the cell to an extent it becomes lethal to any SARS-CoV-2 viruses that enter. This was the primary rationale for using it along with azithromycin. The anti-inflammatory and immunomodulation effects are another possibility, as this virus generally kills by cytokine storm, or an overactive immune system. In vivo testing has, however, been mostly negative, but the rationale for testing did exist. Raoult, however, despite having a perfect opportunity to do so, did not carry out anything resembling a real test, then declared victory, saying he had cured COVID-19.

Under what was likely intense pressure from the White House, the FDA issued an approval letter for emergency use of chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate (but not azithromycin) on March 28, 2020.[244] Notably, the FDA letter "did not cite specific studies or evidence the FDA used to support the decision."[244][245]

On the very same day that Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, started touting hydroxychloroquine,[246] Sweden terminated a medical trial for the drug due to severe side effects (like seizures and visual impairment).[247][248]

Trump's fixation on chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine reportedly diverted already scarce expertise into what was likely a wild goose chase.[249] Trump's fixation was apparently initiated after a phone call with major campaign donor and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.[249]

In April 2020, a (pre-peer reviewed) randomized clinical trial of 368 COVID patients was divided into three groups: hydroxychloroquine (HC), HC+azithromycin (HC+AZ) and control group of no HC or AZ.[250] The study found no evidence that HC with or without AZ reduced the risk of need for mechanical ventilation, and the study further found that HC alone increased the risk of death.[250] However, many other tests are still ongoing in various stages all around the world.

On May 19, 2020, Trump surprisingly revealed that due to recent potential exposure to the virus in the White House, he was taking hydroxychloroquine (along with a zinc supplement) in an attempt to ward off the virus (in spite of the above noted health concerns).[251][252] Even Fox News host (Neil CavutoWikipedia) was stunned by this decision, warning Fox News viewers that there is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine can ward off Covid-19, and "if you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment … it will kill you. I cannot stress enough. This will kill you."[253]

In 2022, Dr. Jennings Ryan Staley of California was convicted of, among other things, promoting a hydroxychloroquine 'miracle cure' during the height of the pandemic before vaccines were available.[254]

Naturally, hydroxychloroquine did not prevent people from being infected with COVID-19.[255][256] Does that mean that the hydroxychloroquine didn't have any effects on the pandemic? Well, no. A study found that HCQ use was associated with an 11% increase in the mortality rate in a meta-analysis of randomized trials and that 17 thousand deaths in six countries were related to hydroxychloroquine.[257]

Disinfectants and ultraviolet[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Ultraviolet
Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it.

And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you're going to test that, too. Sounds interesting.

I see disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it'd be interesting to check that. So you're going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we'll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that's pretty powerful.
—Trump[258] — Would you run away from this man if you heard this on the street?

Meanwhile, on April 23, 2020, during a presentation, after learning that surface cleaners like sodium hypochloriteWikipedia bleach or isopropyl alcoholWikipedia might be effective at killing the virus, Trump shared the depths of his medical expertise by wondering if COVID-19 could be killed by injecting said disinfectants into the body (most surface disinfectants, including these two, are highly toxic to ingest), or whether you could kill the virus by shining "tremendous" amounts of ultraviolet "light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way."[259][260] Medical doctors reacted by calling Trump's statements "irresponsible", "extremely dangerous", and "frightening". Major manufacturers of disinfectants, like Reckitt BenckiserWikipedia (manufacturers of LysolWikipedia and DettolWikipedia)[261] and ZofloraWikipedia[262] rushed to put out press releases and social media posts, reminding everyone that following Trump's advice would be unwise.

Fringe fans of Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS), rejoiced, feeling that the president provided all the evidence they needed that ingesting bleach would cure everything. (As chlorine dioxide bleach also is toxic to ingest, following the advice of MMSers is unwise as well.)[263] Trump got the dangerously stupid idea of promoting bleach after receiving a letter from Mark Grenon, the leader of the largest group promoting MMS (a "church"/manufacturer called Genesis II); the letter told Trump that MMS is "a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body".[264] (The same group had been ordered by the FDA to stop selling the "unproven and potentially harmful treatment for Covid-19" just a few days earlier.)[265]

Oleandrin[edit]

Oleandrin chemical diagram

In August 2020, a few prominent Republicans (like Housing and Urban Development Secretary and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force Ben Carson, and Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow, a company that has engaged in illegal business practices,[266] and in 2020 was known for providing heavy advertising support for far-right Fox News hosts, like Fucker Carlson[267] and Laura Ingraham,[268] that have become too toxic for mainstream companies to advertise with) started pitching oleandrin,Wikipedia a toxic chemical found in the oleanderWikipedia plant (Nerium oleander), to Trump as a cure for COVID-19. (Naturally, the pitch has an element of self-interest involved, as Lindell has a stake in a company developing oleandrin extracts called Phoenix Biotechnology.)[269] Oleandrin is a cardiac glycoside, with similar properties and structure to digoxin, which is derived from Foxglove.

There is no solid evidence that oleandrin works to treat COVID-19 in humans.[269] Although there is a preliminary, preprint (non-peer reviewed) study that oleandrin may display some in vitroWikipedia inhibition of SARS-CoV-2,[270] it's a giant leap to go from saying that a compound may inhibit a virus in isolation, to saying that not only does this compound cure COVID-19, but it is also safe to use on humans. In addition, two authors of the study are employed by Phoenix Biotechnology, suggesting a potential conflict of interest.[271] In the meantime, because oleander is a common ornamental plant that is also known to be highly toxic,[272] some in the medical field worried that there would be a chance that people would get the dumb idea to "self-medicate" with this plant.[273] The American Botanical Council (an alternative medicine organization that promotes herbal medicine) rushed out a press release urging consumers "not to ingest any parts of the plant, or capsules, tablets, teas, or extract preparations made from leaves or other parts of the oleander plant because it contains chemicals that can cause serious effects to the human heart, including death."[274]

Urine[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Urine therapy

"Vaccine Police" leader Christopher Key[275] actually suggested that urine could be a cure for COVID-19, "The antidote that we have seen now, and we have tons and tons of research, is urine therapy". This is despite the fact that urine is actually unhealthy to drink, as it contains bacteria and waste products that the body was trying to get rid of. Key called people who got the vaccine "foolish".[276] To date, there is no actual peer-reviewed study that shows that urine is an effective treatment for COVID-19 — or anything else.

Ivermectin[edit]

Ivermectin, seized by Austrian customs

In April 2020, researchers at Monash UniversityWikipedia discovered in a pre-print paper that a common anti-parasitic drug called ivermectinWikipedia could kill the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 within 48 hours in a petri dish (in vitro).[277] The press release cautioned that a successful in vitro experiment said nothing about its suitability for treating COVID-19 in humans. As this drug is commonly used to treat animal diseases such as heartworm,Wikipedia the FDA rushed out a letter expressing concern that desperate people would take ivermectin regardless of whether or not it actually worked, and were particularly concerned that they would take ivermectin intended for animals, which had not been tested in humans, and thus pose additional dangers.[278] Similar to hydroxychloroquine, by mid 2021, the evidence was not very strong that ivermectin was very effective, with only a few smaller studies showing positive effects and larger, more solid trials tending to produce equivocal evidence at best.[279]

Similarly to hydroxychloroquine, however, this hasn't stopped many people from trying, including political world leaders, from promoting the drug as a cure for COVID-19 to various degrees. Latin American politicians embraced the drug, with it being recommended by governments in Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil (albeit with Peru and Bolivia acknowledging that the evidence that the drug worked against COVID-19 was slim).[280] Far from helping out the situation, however, there is evidence that Peru's use of ivermectin (along with chlorine dioxide or bleach, anticoagulants, and other forms of snake oil) may have actually increased pandemic deaths.[281] The Indian states of Goa and Uttarakhand, against the advice of the World Health Organization,Wikipedia gave the drug to many of its residents in May 2021, despite a lack of scientific evidence.[282][283] Ivermectin was part of a cocktail of unproven drugs promoted by Jair Bolsonaro to fight COVID-19; his promotion of pseudoscience and disdain for proven pandemic methods (like lockdowns and facial mask use) led to Brazil having among the highest death rates from COVID-19 in the world in early- to mid-2021.[284]

In the United States, Senator Ron Johnson led the charge to promote ivermectin as a cure for COVID-19, calling for a hearing in December 2020 to promote the drug.[285] Johnson continued to promote the drug in 2021, appearing at the Milwaukee Press ClubWikipedia on June 3 to, among other things, promote ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. After uploading the video from the press club event to YouTube, YouTube responded by suspending Johnson's account for 7 days for promoting medical bullshit.[286] Bullshit claims regarding ivermectin were echoed throughout June and July 2021 by some of the more noted anti-vaccination and anti-face mask Fox News personalities (like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham), as well as explored in noted broscience promoter Joe Rogan's podcasts.[287][288][289] Carlson even went as far to promote a former evolutionary biology professor named Bret WeinsteinWikipedia (brother of Eric Weinstein on his show, and who was also more noteworthy at that time for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 than any accomplishments in academia), who strangely claimed that ivermectin actually mooted the Emergency Authorization Use for the COVID-19 vaccine for some reason.[290] On social media, Facebook in particular allowed groups dedicated to spreading false bullshit about ivermectin to proliferate, and even allowed ad buyers to directly target the social network's users who bought into this snake oil.[291][292]

Because of this, experimental usage of livestock formulations of ivermectin (which, being formulated for a large animal like a horse or a cow, consisted of a much higher dose than pharmaceutical formulations of ivermectin to treat human worm diseases) increased during the summer of 2021, particularly those among the anti-vaccination movement who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine (which at the time was widely available in the United States, but was disproportionately being rejected by conservative Donald Trump voters/supporters).[293][294] Consequently, in late August 2021, there was a noted spike in calls to the poison control centers of multiple states concerning overdoses of ivermectin.[295][296] According to the FDA, this even included multiple hospitalizations.[297] Feed stores all across the United States were struggling to keep ivermectin in stock.[293][298]

This led to an unusually blunt tweet from the FDA on August 21, 2021 reminding people to not partake in this reckless experimentation, which simply stated: "You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it."[299] Despite this, the misuse continued. On September 1st 2021 in rural Oklahoma, a doctor reported that the emergency rooms were backed up so badly with ivermectin overdose cases that gunshot victims were "having a hard time getting to facilities" and ambulance systems were "stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to open".[300]

At this point we'd like to note that the folks who overdose on this stuff usually wind up SHITTING OUT THEIR STOMACH LINING, and we humbly beseech you to ask yourself if you seriously think the Vaccine can do anything nearly as awful to you.

A group of quack doctors formed the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance in 2020 to tout ivermectin as a treatment for COVID. By February 2023, the group started touting ivermectin for treating influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). As of February 2023, there was no clinical data to support such a recommendation.[301]

You don't have to believe RationalWiki; just ask Danny Lemoi, one of ivermectin's biggest promoters (he himself took a daily dose of ivermectin) — oh wait, you can't! He's fucking dead! His final message to his followers on Telegram — intended as sarcastic, but turning out to be ironic — was "HAPPY FRIDAY ALL YOU POISONOUS HORSE PASTE EATING SURVIVORS !!!", hours before he died from ivermectin-induced heart disease.[302]

Hydrogen peroxide[edit]

During the early days of the pandemic, notorious "alternative medicine" promoter Joseph Mercola (who, according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate,Wikipedia was the worst promoter of COVID disinformation)[303] advocated treating those infected with COVID-19 with diluted nebulized hydrogen peroxide (that is, using a nebulizer to inhale hydrogen peroxide mist).[304][305] By September 2021, this bullshit was circulating in misinformation groups with enough energy that the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of AmericaWikipedia issued a statement warning people that inhaling hydrogen peroxide won't do anything to help COVID-19, but may irritate one's lungs and nose, with severe pulmonary irritation possible if one breathes concentrated peroxide mist that one forgot to dilute.[306] Like bleach, hydrogen peroxide is an effective cleaning disinfectant against COVID-19 viruses,[307] but also like bleach, you really don't want to put this inside your body.

Facial masks, an assault on mah freedom![edit]

"I don' wanna wear mask" by Jon McNaughton.
See the main article on this topic: Face masks

Initially, the advice from health officials on whether or not to wear a mask was confusing and contradictory, due to the thought that mask priority should be reserved for medical professionals, and confusion on how effective masks were at containing COVID-19 transmission.[308] But by May 2020, the evidence was compelling that masks were actually pretty damn effective — even simple masks made from cloth reduced the possibility of COVID-19 transmission by a significant amount. As a result, the scientific consensus by the middle of 2020 was firmly in agreement: it was advisable to wear a mask as much as possible (particularly in crowds and indoor locations), in order to offer some protection against getting COVID-19 (and even more protection against asymptomatic cases unknowingly infecting other people).[309] In America, this resulted in some states and towns passing laws to make mask-wearing mandatory, at least in indoor locations.

Naturally, conspiracy theories about masks popped up almost immediately online. In Plandemic, Judy Mikovits claimed that masking up "literally activates your own virus", a claim so asinine to scientists that one wonders exactly what Mikovits actually learned while obtaining her biochemistry degree.[310] Donald Trump made a point of refusing to wear a mask in public[311] and only begrudgingly started to wear masks sometimes in July 2020.[312] Polls showed that the more conservative media one watched, the more one refused to embrace social distancing and mask-wearing.[313] Many conservative news sources likeFox News seemed more interested in mocking mask laws and using masks as a conservative "talking point" that related to generic "freedom" oriented rhetoric and attacks on Democrat politicians.[314] In the worst-case scenarios, this led to many maskless freedom fighters fuckernongs getting into shouting matches, and even physical fights, with grocery store clerks, servers, and other service employees who merely asked for facial masks to be worn indoors in their store location. This resulted in a large number of viral videos documenting these facial mask meltdowns.[315]

In June 2020, a group calling itself the "Freedom To Breathe Agency", a private, non-governmental organization, ran both a website and a Facebook page, encouraging people to print out their own "Face Mask Exemption Card", threatening steep financial penalties for forcing the card's bearer to wear a face mask. The card listed a claim that the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) did not require the bearer to disclose their condition.[316] The Department of Justice issued a warning that the cards were not issued by any Government agency.[317] As of June 29, 2020, both the website and the Facebook page have vanished.

By 2021, the delta variant of COVID was overtaking America, and was overwhelming hospitals again (particularly in states that voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 U.S. presidential election).[318] Opposition to facial masks at this point had practically become a key tenet of far-right American conservative identity, leading to continued incidents of anti-mask hysteria. In particular, formerly dull and boring school board meetings in 2021 became hot spots for anti-mask zealots to yell out bizarre conspiracy theories and nonsensical Nazi analogies,[319] even on occasion leading to violent brawls over mask policy.[320] This hostility was enough to make some school board members consider resigning out of fear for their safety.[321]

In February 2021, the FAAWikipedia implemented a mandate for flying on airlines where masks were required to be worn while in flight or in transportation facilities. This contributed to significantly increased "air rage" incidents in 2021.[322] Of the 3,889 reports of unruly passenger incidents the FAA recorded between February and August 2021, 2,867 unruly passenger cases were due to refusing to comply with mask policy guidelines.[323] This uptick in unruly behavior[note 13] was enough for several US airlines to temporarily suspend in-cabin alcohol service in an attempt to calm passengers down.[325]

Republican governors like Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Greg Abbott (R-TX), who were looking to out-Trump Trump in the 2024 election, went beyond simply eliminating any state mask mandates. In fact, the two governors issued unpopular[326] executive orders explicitly forbidding any local agency to have mask mandates at all. Even worse, they threatened any school districts and other local public officials that defied their legally questionable executive orders with fines or the withholding of salaries.[327][328] Some conservative pundits were also continuing to bitch about face masks. In April 2021, Tucker Carlson suggested that people call child protective services to report supposed "child abuse" if they see a child wearing a face mask.[329]

This has been a fine example of Natural Selection in action.

Racism, bigotry and trolling[edit]

Anti-xenophobia poster in New York City.
See the main articles on this topic: Racism and trolling
It is a foreign virus, if the chinese held high hygiene standards we wouldn't be in this mess right now.
—FoxxysTweets, local racist on Twitter responding to a post from the wingnut Townhall.com.[330]

The pandemic brought out great enmity between whites and minorities (who were disproportionately affected) while also stoking xenophobic hatred and relentless exploitation of immigrants, all while being constantly goaded by right-wing leaders and media pundits.

The coronavirus outbreak indirectly victimized Asians by bringing out the worst bigotry imaginable. This whole mess harkens back to old racist sentiments that Chinese people are filthy and eat any animal they want.[331] Many Asians (regardless of whether they were Chinese or not, even Taiwanese people) reported experiencing increased profiling and social isolation over concerns that they could've had COVID-19 (complete with racist terms and tropes in some cases). Rumors about Shen Yun being a vector for coronavirus began circulating despite the dance company being located in New York, being banned from performing in China, and the members not having visited China in years.[332] Business took a nosedive at many Asian-oriented establishments in the West.[333] These verbal attacks have occasionally crossed over into assault and harassment.[334] It was most apparent when racists didn't get the nationality correct and assumed every East Asian they saw was a new Chinese immigrant and not someone that had been living in a given country long before the outbreak even began.

A few businesses across the globe forbade "all people coming from China" from entering their establishment due to excessive COVID-19 fears.[335] Stoking anti-immigrant bigotry while politicizing COVID-19 in the United States, Donald Trump, in a campaign rally on February 28, 2020, called COVID-19 the Democrats' "new hoax", ironically accusing Democrats of doing the very same thing he was doing. He then linked the virus to "many other public health threats" from "the Democrat policy of open borders".[336] Fear of infectious disease is widely seen as being a strong motivating factor behind racism[337], so naturally Trump called it a "foreign" virus,[338] (viruses don't give a shit about whatever political boundaries humans invent) to "rally his base" behind his racist and xenophobic[339] "immigration policy".

A laughable/sad instance of plumb-ignorant racism involved a fake shitpost circulated in Australia, from the "Department of Diseasology Parramatta", warned fellow racists, in poor grammar, about contaminated "Asian" products including Lipton's peach ice tea[340] (despite Lipton being a British company). It had gotten so bad that NSW HealthWikipedia responded to it.

For some reason, a story about a CameroonianWikipedia man living in China who contracted, and was successfully treated for COVID-19[341] generated bullshit racialist posts online that he actually fought off the virus "because he has black skin, (because) the antibodies of a black person are thrice as strong, powerful, and resistant as those of a white person".[sic] There is no scientific evidence to support this claim.[342]

Fundie conspiracy theorist and radio broadcaster Rick Wiles blamed Jews for spreading COVID-19 because they are not Christians. ("God is spreading it in your synagogues! You are under judgment because you oppose his son, Jesus Christ.")[343] Members of the far right picked up on this because Jews are the main scapegoat for antisemites; strangely, these antisemites thought that Jews control virus labs in China.[344][345]

Many ecofascists have made statements stating that humanity is the "disease" and that COVID-19 is nature's "cure" or "revenge,"[346] either ignoring that the disease is disproportionately fatal for poor, non-white people, who often live in third world countries or acknowledging it but not giving a fuck because they either lack empathy for these people or, in extreme cases, actively want them to die because they blame them for overpopulation.

In the Republic of Korea, a 29-year-old man living in Yongin tested positive for COVID-19. He went clubbing in Itaewon, a party district in Seoul, when he was asymptomatic, exposing at least 1,500 people to the virus. For some Korean media outlets, him being gay was the most problematic aspect of this story. This led to homophobic public opinion and hate speech against LGBT people within the Korean Internet community.[347]

Denying immigrants basic human rights[edit]

For my children and I, who are US citizens, who should be afforded the same rights as every other citizen, it's really upsetting. We're being punished because of something completely separate, which is the immigration status of my husband. It wasn't thought out completely, surely. We are being betrayed by our own government."
—Miriam, part of a family of five that won't receive aid because her husband used an individual taxpayer identification number.[348]

It's particularly heartbreaking that immigrants, especially working class immigrants, were left to fend for themselves while other groups received relief packages. It mirrored the xenophobic backlashes in America centuries ago when it was believed that Irish immigrants carried cholera and Jewish immigrants spread tuberculosis. The exclusion was most notable in the United States, at the time led by an incompetent and bigoted president, where long-entrenched beliefs about "bootstraps" and expendable "undeserving poor" dominate right-wing political discourse. Trump excluded stimulus checks to immigrants without social security numbers and who only filed joint tax returns, including those married to them, barring 1.2 million Americans from receiving aid.[349] As a result, Americans that used Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) to pay taxes did not get a dime despite working and paying taxes. Meanwhile those serving the military were exempt. For obvious reasons.

A change to the public charge law in 2018 made it difficult for immigrants to receive a green card if they seek aid or are in situations that make them likely to seek aid (including Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children despite not being included in the list of targeted benefits), thus potentially contributing to a chilling effect where 1 in 7 immigrants never pursued aid in fear of jeopardizing their immigration status, thus leaving them more at risk of getting incapacitated by the coronavirus.[350]

It's better to just let people die rather than lose money… or the election[edit]

Trump holds a huge rally in Arizona several months into a deadly pandemic (roughly 215,000 Americans had died at this point[351]. Yee-haw!
Now, … an unofficial study which we undertook of this eventuality, indicated that we would destroy ninety percent of their nuclear capabilities. We would therefore prevail, and suffer only modest and acceptable civilian casualties from their remaining force which would be badly damaged and uncoordinated.
—General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove,[352] foreshadowing the 'pro-life' GOP political calculus[353]
As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all Americans love for your children and grandchildren?
—Lieutenant governor of Texas Dan PatrickWikipedia, actually displaying the pro-life GOP political calculus that the economy is more important than Grandma and Grandpa.[354]

Several world leaders horribly fucked up their responses to the pandemic, engaging in denialism. The commonalities among them were either populism or authoritarianism:[355]

  • Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil (below)
  • Donald Trump of the US (below) — even his own COVID adviser, Deborah Birx, admitted as much but only after being booted from office
  • Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico — refused to wear a mask and told Mexicans to "live life as usual". The actual death count (321,000) was 60% higher than previously reported,[356] perhaps indicating official suppression. He also stated that the disease was not serious or dangerous and boasted of amulets protecting him from COVID-19.[357]
  • Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus — called the pandemic a "psychosis" and prescribed vodka and saunas to prevent it (the virus or the psychosis?)
  • Turkmenistan — has banned mask wearing and the use of the word 'coronavirus' in media and health information.[358]
  • Hun Sen of Cambodia — welcomed cruise ships and used the pandemic as a cover for increasing repression
  • John Magufuli of Tanzania — told citizens not to use masks or vaccines, and that prayer would cure COVID[359] He likely died of COVID, perhaps while praying.
  • Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party — in the lead up to India's catastrophic second wave of infections, Modi and the BJP allowed the 9-million strong Kumbh Mela religious gathering to go ahead, and he led massive political campaign gatherings.[360][361] Field hospitals that were constructed during the first wave had been dismantled nationwide before the onset of the second wave.[362]
It's impossible to cover all the blunders by populist demagogues and assorted tyrants. … Every world leader made mistakes, but there's something uniquely malignant about the manipulations and deceptions of the most outrageous players.

It is sometimes hard to suppress a chuckle when watching the antics of these buffoons. Yet the sense of absurdity is quickly stifled by the realization that their actions have likely contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands around the world — perhaps more.
—Frida Ghitis[355]
This covid epidemic may actually lance the boil of populism. I don’t think there’s any correlation between being a democracy and doing well or poorly [in dealing with the coronavirus]. But there’s definitely a correlation between being a populist leader and doing badly.
—Francis Fukuyama on BBC[363]

United States of America[edit]

US COVID cases per capita as of 5 May, 2021.

A common theme among Republicans was that the economy running normally was more important than thousands dying. This most often went unsaid, but came in the form of denial of the severity of the pandemic[364] or in the form of many Republican governors' refusals to follow health experts' advice on mandating social distancing.[365]

The economic reality however is that without the availability of an effective vaccine, the cost of not implementing social distancing measures cost the US economy $5.2 trillion.[366] This estimate is from an analysis by University of Wyoming researchers (Linda Thunstrom et al.) that used standard statistical cost of a life lost estimates, a type of metric that is commonly used in governmental risk-benefit analyses and in courtroom damage assessments.[366][367] A separate analysis from University of Chicago economists Michael Greenstone and Vishan Nigam concluded:[368]

Whether in regular times or during a pandemic, it is difficult to think of any intervention with such large potential benefits to American citizens. Importantly, while we measure benefits of distancing in dollars, they reflect the high value Americans place on small reductions in their chance of death – including consumption, leisure, time with family, and other aspects of life not easily monetized.

It is noteworthy that while the CDC has used economic cost-benefit analyses in the past, the CDC is not using such analyses for COVID-19.[366] The White House’s Office of Management and Budget is also not doing any cost-benefit analyses, and The White House Council of Economic Advisers declined to comment on whether they had reviewed the analysis by Thunstrom et al., which they had been sent.[366]

Fighting Covid was still, however, incredibly expensive, and, as of February 2023, the US government spent over 4 trillion dollars on it — more than Germany's entire GDP.[369]

Wingnut Reaction[edit]

Anti-lockdown protesters in California.

In the case of conspiracy theorist/Trump-fanboy Bill Mitchell,[370] he was caught tweeting:[371]

We lost 6,000,000 people during the Holocaust. Did we shut down our economy then? Of course not. This is pure insanity.

America, like most nations in response to COVID-19, used non-pharmaceutical interventions like social distancingWikipedia and quarantinesWikipedia to try and prevent the spread of the virus. In the middle of April 2020, several protests against the lockdown erupted in many states. These relatively small protests (at most a couple thousand people) attracted the more extremist, paranoid elements in American conservatism (as evidenced by the frequent appearance of Confederate flags, semi-automatic weapons, and Trump paraphernalia at these rallies).[372][373] The racial makeup of these protests were majority white, even in more racially diverse states like California.[374] Obviously, most Americans, including some conservatives, thought these protesters had lost their marbles.[375]

The rallies, while ostensibly a grassroots protest, were revealed to be astroturf operations on close examination, with ties to industrialist figures like Betsy DeVos and the Koch family, as well as shit-stirrers seeking to profit from the paranoids (naturally, a show hosted at Infowars was behind a protest in Texas, and Alex Jones was in attendance).[376][377][378] The rallies also received support and behind-the-scenes coordination from The Convention of States project, which has been funded by Republican megadonor Robert Mercer's family foundation, and two members of Trump's White House staff, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development.[379]

Naturally, Trump enthusiastically retweeted support for these protests;[380] in contrast, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director Anthony FauciWikipedia warned that the anti-quarantine protesters could actually prolong the shutdown.[381] (In spite of calls to "fire Fauci" at the protest rallies, as of April 19, 2020, far more Americans trusted Fauci for information on COVID-19 compared to Trump.[382]) In late June 2020, Trump ignored rising case numbers and held two large-scale presidential rallies. Two weeks after Trump held a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20, 2020, Tulsa had a spike in new detected coronavirus cases; a top health official believed that the rally "more than likely contributed" to this spike.[383]

Fox News host Pete Hegseth on May 7, 2020, as usual, advised people on a panel program called OutnumberedWikipedia to ignore "some of our experts and some of our leaders" and, laying out the line that the economy was more important than one's health, encouraged "healthy people" to leave their homes and get infected with COVID-19 in order to strive for "herd immunity". (Experts generally are wary about the "herd immunity" concept with COVID.)[384] Apparently no lessons were learned from Fox and FriendsWikipedia co-host Jedediah Bila, who contracted the virus on April 9.[385] Several studies suggest the possibility that watching conservative populist American media during this pandemic may have been hazardous to your health: preliminary data suggests that those who watched conservative media like Fox News were less likely to social distance and were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories or quack cures.[386]

Some business CEOs also took the stance that keeping the business open was more important than the health of the population. One of the more prominent CEO bullshit artists and attention whores during the pandemic was South African nepobaby Elon Musk. In between giving his new baby boy an unpronounceable name that PrinceWikipedia would have been proud of[387] and dissing Warren BuffettWikipedia on Joe Rogan's podcast[388], Musk used his Twitter account to broadcast his indignation over what he felt was a "dumb" coronavirus "panic". During the first several months of the pandemic, he promised (but failed) to manufacture ventilators for hospitals, he promoted chloroquine horseshit on his Twitter feed, and he called stay-at-home orders "forcible imprisoning" and "fascist" during an expletive-filled first quarter earnings call.[389][390] On May 11, 2020, Musk defied a county lockdown order and reopened Tesla's California manufacturing facility.[391]

Fringe personalities, generally from the wingnut right, also moaned about the virus being nothing more than a conspiracy to destroy the economy. For example, ex-sheriff David Clarke thought that attempts to stop the spread of coronavirus by restricting large gatherings were "an orchestrated attempt to destroy capitalism."[392]

By the summer of 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine was widely available in the United States, with 52.7% of the population fully vaccinated as of August 28, 2021.[393] However, there was a notable gap in vaccination rates between counties that voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 election and counties that voted for Donald Trump.[394] Although not all conservative media was part of the anti-vaccination movement (as an example, media outlets like the Wall Street Journal[395] and the National Review[396] reported on vaccines positively), the message from more populist outlets like Fox News were more muddled and confused, with many hosts being pro-vaccine and the more noxious, populist prime-time hosts like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham happily spreading vaccine conspiracy theories.[397] But it was on social media where anti-vaccination bullshit was proliferating the fastest, attracting an audience of anti-intellectuals who distrusted "elites" and were happy to believe flashy social media "influencers" JAQing off on the vaccine, instead of listening to the advice of trained medical experts.[398] (This despite the possibility that these "influencers" might actually have been disseminating paid bullshit from provocateur nations like Russia.)[399] A 2023 analysis of 538,139 deaths in Ohio and Florida between January 2018 and December 2021 found that there was a substantial differential death rate between registered Republicans and Democrats after vaccines were made available but not before vaccines were made available. The Republican death rate was 7.7% higher than then Democratic Party death rate after vaccines were available,[400] indicating that Republican disinformation was killing their own.

Though not foolproof, the COVID-19 vaccines were highly effective at preventing hospitalization, including against the "delta variant" which was running rampant throughout the world at the time.[401] Naturally, this led to multiple rounds of schadenfreude stories on the Internet where prominent vocal conservative antvaxx media populists caught COVID-19 and suffered severe complications, or even death. In August 2021 alone, such stories included four conservative talk show hosts who died from COVID-19 (Marc Bernier, Phil ValentineWikipedia, Jimmy DeYoung, Dick FarrelWikipedia);[402] a prominent anti-mask campaigner in Texas named Caleb Wallace who caught COVID-19 and died;[403] an attorney named John Pierce who had represented Kyle RittenhouseWikipedia and several 2021 U.S. Capitol riot defendants, and later was reported to be "in the hospital... with COVID-19, on a ventilator, non-responsive";[404] Milo Yiannopoulos, who caught the virus and reportedly made a post showing him injecting himself with the deworming drug ivermectin in a futile attempt to cure his symptoms;[405] North Carolina Republican representative Keith Kidwell, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 after calling vaccine campaigns "manipulative";[406] Missouri state representative Sara Walsh, who refused get vaccinated and whose similarly anti-vaxx husband ended up dying from the disease;[407] Raymond Leo BurkeWikipedia, an arch-conservative anti-Francis[408] cardinal prelate of the Roman Catholic Church and outspoken COVID-19 vaccine critic who caught COVID and was placed on a ventilator;[409] Maine state representative Chris Johansen, who was fiercely anti-vaccination, to the point where even though he lost his wife to COVID-19, he hid this information from the media and still was attending anti-vaccination rallies;[410] Pressley Stutts, a leader of the Tea Party in Greenvile, South Carolina, who fought anti-vaccination efforts and later died of the virus;[411] and Wisconsin Senator Andre JacqueWikipedia, an outspoken lawmaker against COVID-19 vaccine mandates who caught COVID and was intubated.[412]

Politicians who were vaccinated reported contracting breakthrough COVID infections, which even included some Republicans such as South Carolina representative Ralph NormanWikipedia[413] and Texas governor Greg Abbott,[414] generally reported mild symptoms. Even Donald Trump (who had promoted anti-vaccine quackery even before his presidency[415] and, despite impressive early investments in vaccines via Operation Warp SpeedWikipedia in 2020, also fueled much of the anti-vaccination hysteria in 2021 by downplaying mitigation measures during his presidency.[416]) quietly got vaccinated against COVID in January 2021.[417] However, by 2021, antivaxx hysteria was in such force among American conservatives that Trump was actually booed in a late August rally for merely suggesting that the vaccines were good.[418]

It's better to just let students and teachers die rather than lose money[edit]

After touting Trump's dubious COVID cure, Dr. Oz suggested to Hannity that reopening schools would be a good idea and that a certain level of mortality among schoolchildren would be acceptable:

"Schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3%, in terms of total mortality. Any, you know, any life is a life lost, but … that might be a tradeoff some folks would consider."
—Mehmet Oz[419]

I.e., never mind the Hippocratic OathWikipedia ("First, do no harm."), we need the money. Oz tried to walk back his quote within 24 hours, but the harm was already done.[420]

In the summer of 2020, as America debated whether or not to reopen schools in the fall of that year, many Republican politicians echoed Oz's general sentiment, preferring bloodyminded bluster in their push to re-open schools, without much thought for safety. Naturally, teachers as a whole were not happy with this development. Most would have been happy reopening schools if the viral caseload for the area was low enough, and proper sanitation guidelines for re-opening schools (issued by the CDCWikipedia) were followed.[421] However, many Republican leaders were insisting on a full scale reopening[422] in spite of, at that time, many Republican led states and towns also being COVID-19 hotspots.[423] One teachers' union; (in Florida) sued to block reopening;[424] many other teachers had quit or retired early in response.[425][426] Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, showed her compassion to teachers by making an empty threat[note 14] to defund schools that don't open.[427] Louisiana Senator John KennedyWikipedia was even more compassionate when he advocated on Hannity's Fox News show that those who oppose schools' reopenings "can kiss my ass".[428]

"The president has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open... the science should not stand in the way of this."
—White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnanyWikipedia[429]

Predictably, many schools after they reopened became the site of COVID-19 outbreaks; the outbreaks often caused many students to be quarantined, and in some cases resulted in the school shutting down almost immediately after reopening.[430][431][432] In one case, in North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, a student posted a photo of the school hallways shortly after reopening. The photos showed a very crowded hallway, with many students not wearing masks. The school's response was to suspend the student for having the audacity to share the photo on social media.[433] (Facing backlash, the suspension was removed a few days later.)[434] The next week, 9 cases (later rising to 35) of COVID-19 were confirmed among North Paulding High School teachers and students. This forced the school to close for a full week for cleaning and adopt an alternate hybrid in-person/virtual learning strategy afterward.[435] In another case, a school district cancelled plans to reopen schools after teachers staged a "sick out" in protest.[436] Universities were not spared either— COVID-19 outbreaks, often linked to sororities, fraternities and off-campus parties, forced a few universities to move to online-only classes.[437]

The lethal COVID injection[edit]

America's practice of mass incarceration and prison crowding (making social distancing impossible), with people of color and people with mental health disabilities disproportionately affected thanks to racism and being inflamed by Trump's overt bigotry, made it the perfect storm for COVID-19 for the prison population and the staff. People in prison were by far the most vulnerable group to COVID, worsened by the public's general indifference as well as the failure of leadership, mostly Republican but also by the indifference of Democratic leadership. People in jail were around five times as likely to contract the disease,[438] and more prisoners have died of COVID than those executed since 2001.[439] More than 900 people had died from COVID in state and federal prisons[440] and the Marshall Project estimates that over 300,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19.[84] Every state barring Vermont reported at least one death from a prison. More than 100,000 prison staff tested positive.[84]

In one illustrative example of Democratic indifference toward the treatment of incarcerated people, Cassandra Greer-Lee had to call the Democratic sheriff, the Cook County jail, the jail's hospital Cermak, 132 times[441] describing the horrible jail conditions and pleading for assistance for her husband, Nickolas Lee, who was presumed innocent but was still locked up and showing signs of developing COVID-19. She even went to the jail herself to try to get the attention of corrections officers. No action was taken until her husband was taken to a hospital and eventually died. The only semblance of a response was the office bringing up Nick's past record for being convicted of armed robbery,[442] hardly an excuse for the lack of a response. Cook County jail is one of the country's largest jails and has reported one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the country.[443]

Trump body count[edit]

Trump quotes as the pandemic progressed during 2020.

One analysis estimated that as of October 2020 (based on 222,000 total deaths) tens of thousands of excess US deaths could be attributed to Trump's bungling and denialism.[444] An earlier but more rigorous analysis estimated (based on the July 21, 2020 death total of 140,630) that between 4,244 and 12,202 excess deaths could be attributed specifically to Trump's pronouncements regarding mask-wearing (not his policies per se).[445] Another October 2020 study (based on 217,000 total deaths) estimated that there were between 130,000 and 210,000 excess deaths by comparing the US to other countries' responses, much of which would be attributable to Trump due to his administration's "hostility to much of the critical guidance and recommendations put forth by its own health agencies".[446] One estimate of worst-case total US deaths from COVID was 620,029.[446] Given that initial disease response (lockdowns and mask-wearing) is critical in reducing total deaths,[446] a large proportion of the total US deaths would be attributable to Trump regardless of whether the deaths occured after he left office. A post-Trump analysis by a Lancet commission estimated that 40% of the 470,000 US COVID deaths (188,000 deaths) could have been averted if Trump had taken the pandemic seriously; the study compared death rates among G7 countries.[447][448]

Out of a total force of 3,200 Secret Service agents, 881 tested positive for COVID between March 2020 and March 2021; of the 881, 447 worked for the special agent division tasked to protect the president and vice president.[449] Trump took specific — and unnecessary — actions that increased the exposure risk to agents, for example by directly exposing agents in a car while he was being treated for COVID, and by holding a campaign rally in Tulsa that largely ignored social distancing precautions.[450]

“Never before has the Secret Service run up against a president so intent on putting himself first regardless of the costs, including to those around him.
—Ned Price, national security expert and former CIA agent[450]

Brazil[edit]

COVID-19 victims at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus, Brazil.

Similarly, President Jair Bolsonaro wagered that keeping the Brazilian economy running was the only way to get reelected as long as the body count didn't rise too high.[451] His strong resistance to quarantine measures and his repeated COVID-19 denialism (a stance that ran contrary to almost every other leader on the planet— he repeatedly downplayed COVID-19 as "a bit of sniffles" or a "little flu") led to defiance from most of Brazil's governors (who largely implemented quarantines in their own states), nightly protests in many Brazilian cities, and a declining approval rating.[452][453] Bolsonaro's frequent clashes with Brazilian health minister Luiz Henrique MandettaWikipedia (who advocated social isolation, and had a 76 percent approval rating as a result, compared to Bolsonaro's 28 percent approval rating) eventually led to Mandetta being fired by Bolsonaro on April 16, 2020.[454]

The health care minister appointed to replace Mandetta, Nelson TeichWikipedia, resigned on May 15, 2020 — officially for no reason, but Teich was known for frequently clashing with Bolsonaro. It was speculated that Bolsonaro's embrace of chloroquine pseudoscience pushed by Donald Trump, and his desire on May 14, 2020 to change the protocol around chloroquine to allow for expanded use (despite there being no solid evidence that this drug works well against COVID-19) was the final straw for Teich.[455][456] Teich was replaced by a temporary appointment, Eduardo Pazuello, an army general with no previous medical experience.[457][458]

Bolsonaro went above and beyond Trump in protesting lockdown measures by actually appearing at anti-lockdown rallies. Journalists noted that he neither wore a face mask (even though he was seen coughing on several occasions) nor gloves, precautions which other world leaders had taken.[459]

"So what? I'm sorry. What do you want me to do?"
—Jair Bolsonaro, when asked about Brazil's record 474 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday April 28, 2020. Apparently responding by taking COVID-19 seriously for once is out of the question...[460]

Bolsonaro's callous and dismissive response to the virus (including the above quote, which trended on social media) infuriated many Brazilians, as well as many other government officials (including Bolsonaro's popular justice minister, Sergio MoroWikipedia, who resigned from Bolsonaro's administration on April 24, 2020, in part because Bolsonaro was being an anti-science fuckernong on COVID-19.)[461]

One of Bolsonaro's sons, a popular video game streamer named Jair Renan Bolsonaro, got temporarily banned from TwitchWikipedia on May 2020 due to him saying bullshit during a Twitch session that COVID-19 was "just a little flu" and a "media invention to lock you inside your home, so you'll think the world is crumbling".[462]

By June 2020, as the COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to increase (in terms of raw numbers, only the United States had more confirmed cases at that time, and unlike the United States, the case rate was still trending upward)[463][464], it was clear to most Brazillians that COVID-19 was far from just a "little flu", and Bolsonaro was widely blamed for his poor response to the pandemic.[465] Bolsonaro responded by wiping months of historical data from Brazil's official online COVID-19 tracker, and only allowing limited information to be shown, in a clear bid to try to reshape the narrative.[466] This move caused three opposition parties to file a legal challenge; a Supreme Court judge later sided with the opposition parties, overruling Bolsonaro, and ordered the data to be restored.[467]

After spending the rest of June continuing to downplay the virus and scuttling preventative measures, like vetoing elements of a mandatory mask law passed by the lower house,[468] on July 7, 2020, Bolsonaro tested positive for COVID-19.[469]

By late March 2021, total official COVID-19 deaths in Brazil rose above 300,000,[470] and Brazil had the highest amount of deaths from COVID-19 per day in the world.[471] The total death count in Brazil at this time was only exceeded by the United States, who had just begun a mass vaccination campaign without any supply constraints.[472] The vaccination rollout in Brazil, in contrast, was proceeding very slowly, with the rollout constrained by Bolsonaro's policies.[473] Intensive care occupancy in Brazil was at 80% or above in all but two of Brazil's 27 states.[474] Despite a new more transmissible variant called "P.1" taking hold in Brazil, Bolsonaro was still downplaying the virus, arresting critics and protesters, and suing state governments who wished to impose COVID-19 lockdowns. Experts warned that the out of control pandemic, and Bolsonaro's inability to even try to manage the pandemic, made it far more possible that new potentially more transmissible or deadly variants would emerge. This made Brazil, and the failure of Bolsonaro's leadership on COVID-19, a threat to global health.[473][471][475]

It's better to just let people die rather than stop gathering to worship the Lord[edit]

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, who refused to suspend in-person services[476] and demanded that his flock continue tithing even if they lost their jobs.[477]

By its very nature, a religious service (with multiple people gathering indoors in close proximity, often involving singing or other forms of vocal expression) is a disease vector. As such, COVID-19 exacerbated the rift between religions that respect science, and religions that openly defy science. While many religious institutions complied with lockdowns and quarantines, some — mostly fundamentalist or evangelical sects that have historically been hostile to scientific thought — engaged in open defiance against said orders.

Inevitably, some of these religious gatherings became the source of major viral outbreaks.[478][479] It is noteworthy, though, that since stay-at-home orders were implemented in the United States, churchgoing became the exception rather than the rule, even on Easter.[480]

Some world leaders preferred to rely on religious tropes instead of taking any necessary actions. Then-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is strongly aligned with Brazil's evangelical community, who defiantly resisted calls for a lockdown, decided that a national day of fasting and prayer was the best course of action.[481] Tanzanian president John MagufuliWikipedia defended his decision to keep places of worship open by stating that "corona is the devil and it cannot survive in the body of Jesus."[482]

(As proof that Magufuli's proclamation wasn't entirely the case, and the very nature of a church gathering actually makes it riskier than other scenarios, major viral outbreaks tied to religious gatherings include 2,500 cases tied to a gathering of the large Christian Open Door ChurchWikipedia in France in mid-February 2020[483], a church gathering in Arkansas that caused at least 34 direct cases of COVID-19 and multiple additional cases when COVID-19 infections spilled over into the surrounding community,[484][485]a church service in Frankfurt that resulted in more than 100 COVID-19 infections,[486] and a choir practice in Washington state where 47 of the 60 people who attended were infected by COVID-19.[487])

South Korea[edit]

A prominent example of a major COVID outbreak tied to a defiant religious group was the secretive sect ShincheonjiWikipedia in South Korea, which continued to host worship sessions after several of its members caught the virus and failed to inform health authorities of the outbreak by submitting falsified lists of its members. Over 60% of reported cases in South Korea were linked to Shincheonji, and Korean authorities sought murder and wrongful death charges against the sect.[488]

Israel[edit]

In Israel, the Haredim make up 12% of Israel's population — but they accounted for as much as 60% of Israel's COVID-19 cases.[489] While Israel generally reacted swiftly to the virus, the ultra-Orthodox community initially resisted social distancing measures, especially regarding the closure of synagogues and religious schools.[490] This resulted in increased tension between the Haredim community (who have special status in Israeli law that allows them to avoid the otherwise mandatory military draft, among other privileges) and the rest of the Israeli public.[491] A prominent member of Benjamin Netanyahu's government, health minister Yaakov Litzman (who is ultra-Orthodox), tested positive for COVID-19 on April 2, 2020.[492] Some reports suggest that Litzman flouted social distancing rules by taking part in illicit group prayers, an accusation he denies.[493]

Tanzania[edit]

As noted above, Tanzanian president John Magufuli engaged in tepid preventative measures against COVID-19 compared to other African nations, keeping all places of worship open, and preferring to fight the virus by engaging in unhelpful measures like declaring days of national prayer[494] and promoting an herbal tonic placebo as a cure.[495] Naturally, any journalist trying to do any real reporting on COVID-19 endured a crackdown.[496] Other African countries engaged in lockdowns and social distancing, and saw declining cases as a result.[497] Unsurprisingly in contrast, by May 2020, Tanzania had the highest number of cases in the region,[498] and this is even before the possibility that cases were undertested and underreported due to the opaque nature of Tanzania's government. (Even the cause of death of three MPs in 11 days in April 2020 was kept hidden from the public, causing rumors to fly around speculating that all 3 died of COVID-19.)[499]

In February 2021, information on COVID-19 was still being suppressed by the Tanzanian government, who continued to insist there was no local transmission. Hospital data however showed an increase of patients being admitted with "breathing challenges", leading to suspicions that Tanzania was concealing a COVID-19 epidemic.[500]

In March 2021, it was reported that "an African leader" was being treated for COVID-19 in Nairobi, leading many to speculate it was Magufuli, who had not been seen in public since February.[501] Later that month, Magufuli died. The official cause of death was "heart problems". However, some opposition leaders in Tanzania believe that the real cause of death was COVID-19.[502] Before Magufuli was hospitalized, some of his aides reportedly contracted COVID-19,[503] and Tanzanian finance minister Philip MpangoWikipedia coughed and gasped for air (blaming "pneumonia") at a press conference whose aim was to announce that he was in good health.[504]

United States[edit]

President Trump with Jerry Falwell Jr. at Liberty University in 2017.

In America, one of the more prominent examples of a religious leader defying lockdown orders was one Rodney Howard-BrowneWikipedia of The River At Tampa Bay Church in Tampa, Florida (who is heavily aligned with the conspiracist community, to the point where in 2018 he appeared on Infowars and gave Alex Jones a handgun to show that Jones was "protected by God").[505] Howard-Browne earned national attention by getting arrested for repeatedly refusing to comply with lockdown orders.[506] Howard-Browne, who believed the bullshit that COVID-19 was a bioweapon created by Bill and Melinda Gates to complete a socialist takeover of the US government and kill off people with vaccines[507], closed the church after this arrest — not because of the virus, but because he wanted to protect the church from "a tyrannical government".[508]

Louisiana has another religious leader defying lockdown orders, one Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge. Spell compared lockdown orders to "tyranny", believed the pandemic was "politically motivated", and continued announcing his intentions of violating the law (drawing six misdemeanor citations in the process).[509] In a TMZ interview, Spell claimed that "true Christians do not mind dying, they fear living in fear", judged that "people that can prefer tyranny over freedom do not deserve freedom", claimed that the "only vent that (people) have for their emotions is coming to the house of God and worshiping, like free people." and brushed off any deaths that might result from his foolish defiance with the notion that they "died like free people".[510] Naturally, worshiping remotely was out of the question. On April 16, 2020, one member of his church reportedly died from COVID-19, although Spell denied that this was the cause of death (never mind what the coroner's report said).[511] Later, on April 20th 2020, Spell was issued an arrest warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon — as earlier he displayed his Christian spiritWikipedia by rapidly backing up a church bus into the direction of a person protesting in front of his church, stopping just short of hitting him.[512]

Another prominent example is Liberty University — at a time when most college campuses locked down due to the virus, Jerry Falwell Jr. chose to keep the campuses open, believing that the COVID-19 quarantines were an "overreaction" driven by a desire to harm Donald Trump. Unsurprisingly, Liberty University was a source of COVID-19 infections, with at least a dozen students and several employees falling ill from the virus. Falwell Jr.'s reaction to all this was to criticize the reporting of his fuckup, ironically comparing the media to Nazis and suing two reporters for "trespassing". (A Liberty University student countered by suing Liberty University and Falwell Jr. for "placing students at severe physical risk".)[513][514][515]

In one case, preacher Gerald Glenn "firmly believe(d) that God is larger than this dreaded virus". Under this delusion, he defied lockdown orders on March 22 2020, holding a service and vowed to preach "unless I'm in jail or the hospital". He ended up catching the virus, and passed away on April 11, 2020.[516][517]

Ukraine[edit]

In Ukraine, an Orthodox church called (Kyiv Pechersk LavraWikipedia) initially defied quarantine orders, with monastery head Metropolitan Pavel stating that "the most terrible epidemic is the sin that destroys human nature" and encouraging everyone to "hurry to church". This church emerged as a COVID hotspot in Ukraine, with 140 monks reportedly testing positive for the virus.[518]

Information suppression[edit]

Order from Wuhan Police demanding Dr. Li Wenliang to stop "spreading rumors" about a possible "SARS virus" dated 3 January.

China[edit]

China's government uses several authoritarian tactics like strict secrecy and media censorship to promote "stability" and slavish adherence to central authority. When the disease first started showing up as early as December 8, 2019,[519] the Wuhan government ordered all government agencies to act like everything was "normal". On December 30, eight doctors in Wuhan, including Li Wenliang, expressed concern about the spreading virus but they were reprimanded by the local government for 'spreading rumors'.[519][520] President Xi Jinping said on January 7, 2020 that he was aware of the virus, but from January 12-17 annual Communist Party meetings were held, and a huge potluck supper for 40,000 families was held on January 18, during which time the Wuhan city health department issued a statement that no new cases were detected.[520] On January 14, Ma Xiaowei, the head of China's National Health Commission, reported in a confidential session that the situation was "severe and complex" and that "the risk of transmission and spread is high. All localities must prepare for and respond to a pandemic."[520] In response to this, however, the National Health Commission issued a 63-page document of pandemic response procedures that were labeled "internal" and "not to be publicly disclosed".[520] The confidentiality of the document enabled Li Qun, head of China’s disease control emergency center, to contradict the report on state television by saying "the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission is low".[520] President Xi did not warn the public until January 20,[520] 53 days after the virus was first detected in Wuhan.

This delayed public discovery about the virus for 40 days, probably causing the pandemic to be much worse than if China had a free press.[519][521] Doctor Li Wenliang, who attempted to raise the alarm about the new coronavirus, was punished for "spreading false rumours".[note 15] Wenliang died from the coronavirus on February 7th, 2020, causing widespread outrage on Chinese social media, which actually threatened to overwhelm Chinese social media censors for a time.[522][523]

Ever since, China has shown images in official media coverage as proof that they are/were fighting the virus. (However, some of the images that they show are not what they claim to be).[524] Naturally, they remain dedicated to censoring any *unofficial* viewpoints on social media. China is willing to flood social media with the "official viewpoint" that the outbreak is under control and we all shall be returning to work soon, citizens![525] In reality, China's clumsy, slow reaction to COVID-19 (a reaction which was aggravated by the increasingly authoritarian government of Xi Jinping, and the consequential "authoritarian blindness" that tends to result in these systems due to being advised solely by "yes men")[526] severely weakened the Chinese government's credibility among many Chinese, in spite of the heavy propaganda machine.[527] Chinese media has attempted to cover up what happened by portraying President Xi as a "hero who vanquished the virus", and that China's system (of authoritarian control) should be emulated.[520]

The Chinese government also withheld the virus' genome for two weeks after a Chinese scientist sought to publish it in GenBank, a publicly accessible database. The delay slowed researchers from developing tests, treatments and vaccines for COVID.[528][529]

United States[edit]

Trump (yelling into the phone): Testing is killing me! I’m going to lose the election because of testing! What idiot had the federal government do testing?
Alex Azar (then-Health and Human Services Secretary): Uh, do you mean Jared? [referring to Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law]
[530]

The Trump Administration ignored the National Security Council playbook on fighting pandemics that the Bush and Obama Administrations left behind after leaving office.[531][532][533] The Trump Administration and its enablers also denied that such a playbook existed and blamed the Obama administration for not preparing one.[534]

Trump was more concerned about how the virus would affect his approval ratings than anything else,[535] even to the point of opposing government-sponsored COVID testing (in short, if we can't see it, it doesn't exist).[530] Seemingly taking a cue from Limbaugh, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney,Wikipedia at a CPACWikipedia conference, blamed the media for exaggerating the seriousness of COVID-19 because "they think this will bring down the president, that’s what this is all about." He also bizarrely compared COVID-19 as equal to influenza just as Limbaugh did.[536]

Donald Trump Jr.Wikipedia also added to the pile of conservatives politicizing the virus by accusing Democrats of rooting for the virus to kill "millions of people" solely for political purposes.[537]

The official truth[edit]

Trump ordered all government official statements about COVID-19 to be funneled exclusively through a new panel led by Vice President Mike Pence — a man who once proclaimed in 2001 that "smoking doesn't kill", ignoring the scientific consensus (solid since the 1960s[538]) that tobacco smoking is deadly.[note 16][539][540] Letting someone like the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director[541] Anthony FauciWikipedia speak freely about COVID-19 was absolutely verboten.[542]

Nothing is wrong![edit]

And taking a page from the Chinese government's playbook, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) whistleblower was reassigned from her position after raising concerns about HHS staff being in contact with coronavirus evacuees without proper protective equipment.[543] A few months later, Captain Brett Crozier, commander of the USS Roosevelt, was fired for sounding the alarm on the spread of COVID-19 on his ship.[544]

Tweet of Fortune[edit]

In summer 2020, COVID-19 cases severely increased in the United States, particularly spiking in states like Florida which pushed for an early opening (in many cases like Florida, without a statewide mask policy or other social distancing measures). Fauci stepped up criticism of America's response to the pandemic, bluntly stating that the national response had gone awry. In response, Trump reacted as he usually does to any criticism by sidelining Fauci, scuttling some of his planned TV appearances, and having White House officials tell the media that they were "concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things". Reportedly, Trump was annoyed by his public statements (presumably for being accurate and frank instead of Trumpist propaganda), and the "good press" Fauci was receiving for actually having medical sense. On Twitter, Trump preferred to retweet the medical advice of Chuck WooleryWikipedia, who used medical expertise gained from his Wheel of FortuneWikipedia hosting days to tweet that "Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors"[545][546][547][548]

Egypt[edit]

Egypt's military junta has been widely criticized for a response that imposed dire economic hardships on ordinary Egyptians without effectively containing the spread, and bullying scientists and the media into accepting state-approved statistics on infections and deaths. After a team of Canadian scientists published a report estimating that over 19,000 Egyptians had become infected (at a time when the authorities were admitting to only three cases), the Egyptian government retaliated against German journalist Ruth Michaelson, who reported the story, by revoking her press credentials and trying to imprison her (however, she escaped on one of the last flights out of Egypt after the German embassy tipped her off). The government's opaque behavior, combined with the sudden disruption to daily life, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's unannounced two-week disappearance, and an admission that two senior generals had died of the virus led to an entirely predictable public panic.[549]

Suspicions that the government was misleading the public about the outbreak's severity were confirmed when an anonymous, high-ranking military officer tipped the press off that the state was deliberately manipulating data on disease prevalence. Tricks included withholding tests, falsifying causes of death on victims' autopsy reports, and not reporting cases within the military.[550]

The authoritarianism pandemic[edit]

Military police in Uganda pursuing a journalist during the pandemic.
See the main article on this topic: Authoritarianism

Many countries in 2020 that were either fully authoritarian or drifting in this direction used COVID-19 as an excuse to tighten the reins. Pandemics naturally cause restrictive responses and policies that normally would be unthinkable during normal times (like quarantines to help slow the spread of disease), but authoritarian governments used the virus as an excuse to consolidate power, and implement restrictive policies well in excess of what was necessary to control the disease.

In Israel in March 2020, Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency (conveniently closing courts that were due to hear his own corruption trial) and started implementing mass surveillance of citizens via cell phones. Hungary's parliament voted to cancel elections, suspend its own legislative power, and grant Prime Minister Viktor Orban the right to rule by decree indefinitely, as well as enhancing information suppression methods. Leaders of other countries, like Serbia, Cambodia and Togo followed suit in making their country effectively dictatorships (in some cases, allegedly temporarily, but the fear among human rights groups was that it was possible that these new arrangements would be permanent). The leader of Azerbaijan, Ilham AliyevWikipedia, warned that he might have to purge the nation of "enemies". Nations such as Cambodia, Chile, Jordan, Thailand, El SalvadorWikipedia,[551] and Russia used COVID-19 to enhance measures to crack down on dissent and suppress inconvenient political protests. Tensions between China and Hong Kong rose after prominent pro-democracy activists were arrested on April 18, 2020, violating the island's Basic Law protecting Hong Kong's freedoms.[552][553][554][555]

The increasing authoritarianism in the world was good news... for the virus. In the June 6th 2020 edition of The Economist, the magazine performed an analysis of past epidemics comparing authoritarian governments to democracies (using a definition of a "democracy" where most people can vote in free and fair elections). Using epidemic deaths per capita, they found that the lowest death rates tended to be in places where most people could vote in free and fair elections. Although a thorough analysis in this manner could not be performed on COVID-19 yet due to the virus still being an active pandemic at the time, The Economist noted that an Oxford University working paper was able to use Google's index of mobility to estimate the effectiveness of lockdown measures. Democracies overall had a larger reduction in movement in response to lockdown policies, even after accounting for national wealth and other factors.[556][557]

COVID-19 was also convenient for governments known for harassing minority groups. Uganda used "social distancing" as an excuse to crack down on LGBT people.[558] China used the pandemic as a veil for enhancing their repression of the Uyghurs,[559] and also seemed to be looking for just about anyone to blame, accusing and discriminating against African port workers in the city of Guangdong, evicting them from their residences and depriving them of basic resources in May 2020.[560] India's Hindu nationalists — including some of those in power aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party — blamed Muslims for the disease, causing increased violence against India's Muslim minority population.[561] Even in the United States, Donald Trump couldn't help playing with one of his favorite boogeymen, immigrants — ordering certain classes of new immigration to be suspended despite there being no scientific reason to do so.[562]

The most ridiculous example of this came from Venezuela where catching the coronavirus became a crime.[563] Nicolás MaduroWikipedia heavily cracked down on anybody who committed the heinous crime of catching COVID. Returning migrant workers got the worst of the abuse, having been accused by Maduro of being part of a bizarre conspiracy to infect all of Venezuela with COVID-19 to bring down his Government[564] This is not a joke.

Actual death toll[edit]

A rigorous (but not peer-reviewed) first analysis of actual death counts from COVID, as opposed to official death counts has been published covering the first year of the pandemic (March 2020-April 2021).[565] The analysis was based on comparing excess mortality during the pandemic year vs. expected mortality.[565] During this period, the total worldwide COVID-related deaths were estimated to be 6.93 million vs. the official tally of 3.24 million.[565]

The United States had the highest total estimated COVID deaths of any country, 905,289 (vs. 574,043 reported).[565] India was second with 654,395 estimated deaths, but the time period preceded India's catastrophic second wave.[565][566]

The highest estimated death rates per 100,000 people however were overwhelmingly among former Eastern Bloc countries (18 of the top 20) with the addition of Mexico (493.9) and Peru (434.7).[565] The former Eastern Bloc countries' estimated death rates were: Azerbaijan (648.8), Bosnia and Herzegovina (587.2), Bulgaria (544.5), Albania (525.7), North Macedonia (467.9), Belarus (459.6), Romania (455.6), Kazakhstan (444.2), Slovakia (427.6), Russian Federation (404.6), Lithuania (395.1), Poland (389.9), Czechia (386.8), Hungary (386.7), Moldova (377.6), Montenegro (338.1), Ukraine (314.5), and Latvia (312.6).[565]

The US partisan divide[edit]

Two studies of COVID death rate differences between Republicans and Democrats found that Republicans were more likely to die than Democrats, mainly due to Republicans being less likely to be vaccinated.[567] but also likely behavior differences such as being less likely to wear a mask or engage in social distancing. The first study found a correlation between higher COVID deaths in counties that voted for Trump vs. those that voted for Biden.[567] That study also found that counties that voted for Trump at the highest rates also had the highest COVID death rates.[567] A more precise analysis was conducted in 2022 that matched COVID deaths with 2017 political party affiliation in Florida and Ohio, showing that the finding held up on an individual basis, and that the difference continued to persist as late as December 2021 when the study data ended.[567] The largest difference was in December 2021.[567][568]

Vaccine mandates[edit]

There has been vocal opposition to vaccine mandates for COVID, typically from anti-vaxxers,[569] and Republicans looking to score points with their political bases (former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz).[570][571]

But mandates are:

  1. Legal in the United States, based on the statutory ability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to regulate workplace safety,[572] and employers' contractual ability to fire workers for cause[573]
  2. Evidentially effective in coercing holdouts to get vaccinated, based on recent studies[570]

Evidence that mandates are effective are that after mandates were announced vaccination rates went up to 98.5% among 67,000 United Airlines employees, the New York State hospital system employees went from 3/4 to 92%, Tyson Foods employees went from 50% to 80%.[570] An argument can be made that if one is working in the public service sector where there was public interaction (e.g., hospitals, police, and fire fighters) but refuses a safe vaccine then one is not actually acting in the service of the public.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. The WHO never declared that it was no longer a pandemic, as they do not officially declare the end of pandemics.
  2. The word ‘coronavirus’ refers to viruses that are members of the Subfamily Orthocoronavirinae
  3. cf. Influenza symptoms:
  4. The name ‘Sputnik V’ is interchangeable with the name ‘Gam-COVID-Vac’, since both names denote the same vaccine.
  5. In case you're thinking about it, UVC light is not something you want to try at home to help clean surfaces and objects of viruses and bacteria, as concentrated UVC light is extremely dangerous to all lifeforms, including humans.
  6. The Wuhan Institute of Virology studied RaTG13, and in 2017 warned about the risk of coronaviruses from bats similar to the old SARS virus causing future pandemics. The difference between the RaTG13 virus they studied and the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus that later spread, however, roughly corresponds to 50 years of mutations at an average rate.[93]
  7. short for "Chinese communist"
  8. Strangely, Limbaugh also ranted about fentanylWikipedia, declaring that the Russians had (in his mind) also "weaponized" it, citing the 2002 Moscow hostage theater crisisWikipedia as proof. The general consensus is that much (but not all) of the fentanyl that came into the United States during the 2010s opioid epidemicWikipedia actually came from China.[122] That being said, his description in the program of what it is actually like to take an opioid is noteworthy given his personal experience.Wikipedia
  9. In an analysis of the two dominant primetime Fox News hosts, the University of Chicago was actually able to detect a higher mortality rate among viewers of Sean Hannity, who downplayed the virus until late February 2020, compared to Tucker Carlson, who took the virus more seriously early on.[126]
  10. Ironically, the conspiracy theorists who are concerned about vaccines implementing some sort of tracking, might actually be utilizing technologies where tracking data is collected (and there are legitimate concerns over the misuse of this data) to spread this misinformation. This includes cellular networks as a whole[144] and the massive amount of data collected by large social networks like Facebook and the Google-owned YouTube.[145][146]
  11. Chloroquine is a synonym for chloroquine phosphate.
  12. The FAA has historical data online for unruly passenger investigations, but unfortunately not for unruly passenger incidents. Though cause is not reported online for incidents, we can use the reported investigation numbers to help determine if there has been an uptick in unruly passenger behavior compared to previous years. It turns out that the number of investigations in 2021, 755 as of September 14, is way over 2019 and 2020 numbers (146 and 183 respectively) and easily beats the previous record holder of 310 investigations in 2004. This despite there being three plus months left in that year.[324]
  13. In America, school budgets are largely determined by local property taxes; see the Wikipedia article on public school funding in the United StatesWikipedia for details
  14. Although without an accurate understanding of the pathology of the newly discovered disease, and absent of a robust and independent reporting system, there was little Dr. Li could do as an individual.
  15. This is ironic considering COVID-19's threat to smokers in particular.

References[edit]

  1. How to prepare for coronavirus in the U.S. (Spoiler: Not sick? No need to wear a mask.) by Reis Thebault & Alex Horton (Feb. 26, 2020 at 9:58 a.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  2. A controversial televangelist actually attempted to heal people with coronavirus through their televisions
  3. "Coronavirus disease named Covid-19", BBC News, 11 February 2020
  4. Statement on the fifteenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, World Health Organization, 5 May 2023.
  5. Coronavirus: China’s first confirmed Covid-19 case traced back to November 17 by Josephine Ma (8:00am, 13 Mar, 2020) South China Morning Post.
  6. Wuhan’s early covid cases are a mystery. What is China hiding? (November 17, 2022 at 11:03 a.m. EST) The Washington Post.
  7. Wang, C., Horby, P.W., Hayden, F.G. and Gao, G.F., 2020. A novel coronavirus outbreak of global health concern. The lancet, 395(10223), pp.470-473.
  8. "China pneumonia outbreak: Mystery virus probed in Wuhan", BBC News, 2020 January 3
  9. Huang, C., Wang, Y., Li, X., Ren, L., Zhao, J., Hu, Y., Zhang, L., Fan, G., Xu, J., Gu, X. and Cheng, Z., 2020. Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. The lancet, 395(10223), pp.497-506.
    “In December, 2019, a series of pneumonia cases of unknown cause emerged in Wuhan, Hubei, China, with clinical presentations greatly resembling viral pneumonia. Deep sequencing analysis from lower respiratory tract samples indicated a novel coronavirus, which was named 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).” […] “Of 59 suspected cases, 41 patients were confirmed to be infected with 2019-nCoV.”
  10. "A novel coronavirus outbreak of global health concern" by Chen Wang, Peter W. Horby, Frederick G Hayden and George F Gao, Lancet, 2020 January 24
  11. [1] COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University
  12. "The pandemic's true death toll", The Economist, 2021 September 14, archived at archive.is on 2021 September 15
  13. "WHO Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard", archived on September 14, 2021
  14. 14.0 14.1 [2]Bloomberg
  15. CITATION NEEDED
  16. "What is coronavirus and what should I do if I have symptoms?" by Sarah Boseley, Hannah Devlin, and Martin Belam, The Guardian, 2020 Feb 21
  17. From ‘brain fog’ to heart damage, COVID-19’s lingering problems alarm scientists by Jennifer Couzin-Frankel (Jul. 31, 2020 , 1:30 PM) Science.
  18. Coronavirus: Up to 80% diagnosed with COVID-19 have no symptoms, health secretary says: Health Secretary Matt Hancock says this is a "significant finding" and makes controlling the virus "difficult". (11 June 2020 21:21, UK) Sky News.
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  215. See the Wikipedia article on Men in Black (1934 film).
  216. HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains - Thank You! Hopefully, they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) … be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE! @US_FDA @SteveFDA @CDCgov @DHSgov by Donald Trump (7:13 AM - 21 Mar 2020) Twitter (archived from 21 Mar 2020 16:28:44 UTC).
  217. 217.0 217.1 217.2 Trump Vs Fauci: President's Gut Sense Collides With Science: In a clash of gut instinct versus science, President Donald Trump and the government's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, publicly sparred over whether a malaria drug would work to treat people with coronavirus disease. (March 21, 2020, at 10:35 a.m.) Associated Press via U.S. News & World Report.
  218. Trump's eruption at an NBC reporter says it all about his alternate reality on coronavirus by Aaron Blake (March 21, 2020 at 10:32 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  219. Fauci throws cold water on Trump's declaration that malaria drug chloroquine is a 'game changer': Fauci says chloroquine hasn't been studied on coronavirus. by Anne Flaherty & Jordyn Phelps (March 20, 2020, 2:22 PM) ABC News.
  220. Case Studies in Toxicology: Somehow… It's Always Lupus by Shannon Rickner & Lewis S. Nelson (2016) Emergency Medicine 48(11):493-495.
  221. Treating Lupus with Anti-Malarial Drugs Johns Hopkins Lupus Center.
  222. 'What do you have to lose?': Inside Trump’s embrace of a risky drug against coronavirus by Philip Rucker et al. (April 6, 2020 at 4:42 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  223. Trump's aggressive advocacy of malaria drug for treating coronavirus divides medical community by Peter Baker et al. (Published 5:18 am PDT, Tuesday, April 7, 2020) The New York Times via SFGate.
  224. Trump’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine is almost certainly about politics, not profits: At least, not his profits by Philip Bump (April 7, 2020 at 8:24 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  225. Cardiac Complications Attributed to Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine: A Systematic Review of the Literature by Clotilde Chatre et al. (2018) Drug Safety 41(10):919-931. doi:10.1007/s40264-018-0689-4.
  226. Azithromycin and Risk of Cardiovascular Death: A Meta-Analytic Review of Observational Studies by Aref A. Bin Abdulhak et al. (2005) Am. J. Ther. 22(5):e122-129. doi:10.1097/MJT.0000000000000138.
  227. Cardiac Risks Associated With Antibiotics: Azithromycin and Levofloxacin by Zhiqiang Kevin Lu (2015) Expert. Opin. Drug Saf. 14(2):295-303. 10.1517/14740338.2015.989210.
  228. Nigeria Has Chloroquine Poisonings After Trump Praised Drug by Alonso Soto (March 21, 2020, 7:51 AM PDT) Bloomberg.
  229. Banner Health experts warn against self-medicating to prevent or treat COVID-19 (March 23, 2020) Banner Health.
  230. See the Wikipedia article on Chloroquine.
  231. As Trump touts an unproven coronavirus treatment, supplies evaporate for patients who need those drugs by Christopher Rowland (March 23, 2020 at 11:02 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  232. Surgeon General Immediately Warns Viewers Against Trying Malaria Drug Treatment For Coronavirus After Dr. Oz Tells Fox Viewers He's Testing It by Benjamin Fearnow (3/23/20 at 10:34 AM EDT) Newsweek.
  233. 233.0 233.1 Thoughts on the Gautret et al. paper about Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin treatment of COVID-19 infections by Elizabeth Bik (March 24, 2020) Science Integrity Digest.
  234. 234.0 234.1 234.2 234.3 Chloroquine genius Didier Raoult to save the world from COVID-19 by Leonid Schneider (March 26, 2020) For Better Science.
  235. 235.0 235.1 Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: Results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial by Philippe Gautret et al. (2020) medRχiv preprint. doi:10.1101/2020.03.16.20037135.
  236. Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial by Philippe Gautret et al. (2020) International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105949.
  237. 237.0 237.1 Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial by Philippe Gautret et al. (2020) PubPeer. Note public comments.
  238. Les prédictions climatiques sont absurdes! Le professeur Didier Raoult déteste les prévisions sur le climat! Un site a même recensé 72 prédictions erronées émises depuis 121 ans. by Didier Raoult (2013) Le Point.
  239. Dépasser Darwin by Didier Raoult (2010) Plon. ISBN 2259211143.
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  241. 241.0 241.1 Statement on IJAA paper Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial (Gautret P et al. PMID 32205204) (April 3rd-2020) International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (archived from April 6, 2020).
  242. Hydroxychloroquine-COVID-19 study did not meet publishing society's "expected standard" by Adam Marcus (April 6, 2020) Retraction Watch.
  243. Hydroxychloroquine, a less toxic derivative of chloroquine, is effective in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro by Jia Liu et al. (2020) Cell Discovery 6, Article number: 16.
  244. 244.0 244.1 Re: Request for Emergency Use Authorization For Use of Chloroquine Phosphate or Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate Supplied From the Strategic National Stockpile for Treatment of 2019 Coronavirus Disease by Denise M. Hinton (March 28, 2020) U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
  245. FDA authorizes widespread use of unproven drugs to treat coronavirus, saying possible benefit outweighs risk: Millions of doses of the anti-malarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine will be distributed to hospitals across the country to try to slow the disease in seriously ill patients. by Christopher Rowland (March 30, 2020 at 1:14 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  246. Giuliani, a familiar voice in Trump’s ear, promotes experimental coronavirus treatments by Rosalind S. Helderman et al. (April 5, 2020 at 1:01 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  247. Carl, 40, fick kramp och syn- problem av "coronamedicin" (4 apr 2020 kl 21.03) Expressen.
  248. Sweden stops treatment trial of #COVID19 with Chloroquine after some patients got severe side-effects such as seizure and vision impairment. by Saleem Javed (12:42 PM - 4 Apr 2020) Twitter (archived from April 4, 2020).
  249. 249.0 249.1 Trump's push for risky malaria drugs disrupted the coronavirus response: All this buzz is confusing the American public," said one senior Health and Human Services official involved in drug policy. by Sara Owermohle & Dan Diamond (03/27/2020 06:18 PM EDT) Politico.
  250. 250.0 250.1 Outcomes of hydroxychloroquine usage in United States veterans hospitalized with Covid-19 by Joseph Magagnoli et al. (April 21, 2020) medRxiv doi:10.1101/2020.04.16.20065920.
  251. "Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine though health experts question its effectiveness" by By Nikki Carvajal and Kevin Liptak, CNN, 2020 May 19
  252. "Trump's physician explains hydroxychloroquine decision" by Rebecca Falconer and Ursula Perano, Axios, 2020 May 19
  253. "Alarm and Confusion at Fox News as Trump Says He Takes Hydroxychloroquine" by Robert Mackey, The Intercept, 2020 May 19
  254. A doctor claimed he had a ‘miracle cure’ for covid. He’s going to prison. by Jaclyn Peiser (May 31, 2022 at 5:17 a.m. EDT) The Washington Post.
  255. Hydroxychloroquine, a drug promoted by Trump, failed to prevent healthy people from getting covid-19 in trial: The University of Minnesota enrolled health-care workers and others exposed to the disease in the first randomized prevention study of the drug by Laurie McGinley & Ariana Eunjung Cha (June 3, 2020 at 12:05 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  256. A Randomized Trial of Hydroxychloroquine as Postexposure Prophylaxis for Covid-19 by David R. Boulware et al. (June 3, 2020) The New England Journal of Medicine doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2016638.
  257. Pradelle, Alexiane; Mainbourg, Sabine; Provencher, Steeve; Massy, Emmanuel; Grenet, Guillaume; Lega, Jean-Christophe (2024-02-01). "Deaths induced by compassionate use of hydroxychloroquine during the first COVID-19 wave: an estimate". Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 171: 116055. doiWikipedia:10.1016/j.biopha.2023.116055. ISSN 0753-3322. 
  258. Trump suggested studying injections of disinfectant to treat coronavirus, then said he was being sarcastic. Here's video and a transcript. by Deb Reichmann et al. (Apr 24, 2020 | 8:34 PM) AP via Chicago Tribune.
  259. "Trump asked if disinfectants could be injected to kill the coronavirus inside the body. Doctors answered: ‘People will die.’" by Allyson Chiu and Katie Shepherd, Washington Post, 2020 April 24
  260. "Coronavirus: Outcry after Trump suggests injecting disinfectant as treatment", BBC, 2020 April 24
  261. "Lysol maker issues warning against injections of disinfectant after Trump comments" by Marina Pitofsky, The Hill, 2020 April 24
  262. "While it’s nice to be trending on Twitter, we would like to remind you all that Zoflora is NOT for human consumption in any way, despite what certain world leaders may be suggesting", Twitter, @LoveZoflora, 2020 April 24
  263. "A fringe movement that claims bleach is a miracle cure is jubilant after Trump floated injecting disinfectant as a treatment for COVID-19" by Tom Porter, Business Insider, 2020 April 24
  264. Revealed: leader of group peddling bleach as coronavirus 'cure' wrote to Trump this week: Mark Grenon wrote to Trump saying chlorine dioxide 'can rid the body of Covid-19' days before the president promoted disinfectant as treatment by Ed Pilkington (24 Apr 2020 14.00 EDT) The Guardian.
  265. "US orders group to stop selling bleach 'miracle cure' for coronavirus" by Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, 2020 April 21
  266. See the Wikipedia article on My Pillow.
  267. "Tucker Carlson’s biggest advertiser, the MyPillow guy, doesn’t think Carlson needed to apologize for writer’s hate speech" by Jeremy Barr, Washington Post, 2020 July 14
  268. "My Pillow Chief Stands Behind Laura Ingraham and Other Fox News Ads: ‘I Don’t Boycott Any Station’" by Jon Levine, The Wrap, 2019 February 28
  269. 269.0 269.1 "4 facts about oleandrin, an unproven coronavirus treatment reportedly pitched to Trump" by Nicole Lyn Pesce, Marketwatch, 2020 August 18
  270. Plante KS, Plante JA, Fernandez D, Mirchandani D, Bopp N, Aguilar PV, Sastry KJ, Newman RA, Weaver SC. Prophylactic and Therapeutic Inhibition of In Vitro SARS-CoV-2 Replication by Oleandrin. bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2020 Jul 15:2020.07.15.203489. doi: 10.1101/2020.07.15.203489. PMID: 32699848; PMCID: PMC7373128.]
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  302. An Ivermectin Influencer Died. Now His Followers Are Worried About Their Own ‘Severe’ Symptoms. Danny Lemoi took a daily dose of veterinary-grade ivermectin and told his thousands of followers to give the drug to children. He died of a common side effect of the medication. by David Gilbert (March 13, 2023, 4:00am) Vice.
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  330. It is a foreign virus, if the chinese held high hygiene standards we wouldn't be in this mess right now. (6:37 PM - 11 Mar 2020) by FoxxysTweets (6:37 PM - 11 Mar 2020) Twitter (archived from March 12, 2020).
  331. "The coronavirus reawakens old racist tropes against Chinese people" by John Pomfret, Washington Post, 2020 Februrary 5
  332. The latest target of racist rumors about coronavirus: The ubiquitous dance troupe Shen Yun by Kim Bellware & Herman Wong (Feb. 25, 2020 at 8:09 a.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  333. "The coronavirus panic is turning the UK into a hostile environment for east Asians" by Sam Phan, The Guardian, 2020 January 27
  334. "What's spreading faster than coronavirus in the US? Racist assaults and ignorant attacks against Asians" by Holly Yan, Natasha Chen and Dushyant Naresh, CNN
  335. "‘No Chinese allowed’: Racism and fear is now spreading along with the coronavirus" by Quentin Fottrell, Marketwatch, 2020 February 3
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  342. "Black people aren’t more resistant to novel coronavirus" by Anne-Sophie Faivre Le Cadre, AFP Fact Check, 2020 February 12
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  344. 'Jews Control Chinese Labs That Created Coronavirus': White Supremacists’ Dangerous New Conspiracy Theory: Far right theories on a Jewish-Chinese COVID-19 cabal are breaking out of the infamously anti-Semitic dark web – with real-world consequences by Flora Cassen (May 3, 2020) Haaretz.
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  352. Dr. Strangelove: A Continuity Transcript
  353. The GOP is not a pro-life party by Jennifer Rubin (April 14, 2020 at 6:30 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  354. "Texas Politician Suggests Grandma and Grandpa Should Be Willing to Die to Protect Wall Street" by Sanford Nowlin, Guardian, 2020 Mar 24
  355. 355.0 355.1 Which world leader has the worst pandemic record? The competition is fierce. by Frida Ghitis (March 30, 2021 at 11:57 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  356. Mexico’s real COVID-19 death toll now stands at over 321,000 (March 27, 2021) AP.
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  360. India's Kumbh festival attracts big crowds amid devastating second Covid wave by Vineet Khare (April 17, 2021).
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  363. Coronavirus has weakened the West’s nationalists by Ishaan Tharoor (July 17, 2020 at 6:32 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  364. The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged: From the Oval Office to the CDC, political and institutional failures cascaded through the system and opportunities to mitigate the pandemic were lost. by Yasmeen Abutaleb et al. (April 4, 2020) The Washington Post.
  365. States with Republican Governors Delayed Action on Social Distancing Measures, Study Finds by James Walker (3/31/20 at 3:56 AM EDT) Newsweek.
  366. 366.0 366.1 366.2 366.3 The government has spent decades studying what a life is worth. It hasn't made a difference in the covid-19 crisis. The U.S. government often studies the trade-off between cost and safety. But the White House has failed to release any analysis of the pandemic, which could offer clues to what's ahead. by Todd C. Frankel (May 23, 2020 at 3:29 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
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  370. Far-Right Trump Fan Bill Mitchell May Have Just Duped Followers Out Of $14,000 by Amy Russo (08/13/2019 05:14 pm ET) HuffPost.
  371. We lost 6,000,000 people during the Holocaust. Did we shut down our economy then? Of course not. This is pure insanity. by @michellvii (7:39 PM • 4/5/20) Twitter (as caught by Yale Law Professor Scott Shapiro (archived from 6 Apr 2020 06:55:49 UTC).
  372. "Protesting for the Freedom to Catch the Coronavirus" by Charlie Warzel, New York Times, 2020 April 19
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  379. The anti-quarantine protests seem spontaneous. But behind the scenes, a powerful network is helping. by Isaac Stanley-Becker &Tony Romm (April 22, 2020 at 3:00 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  380. "This Is How A Group Linked To Betsy DeVos Is Organizing Protests To End Social Distancing, Now With Trump's Support" by Salvador Hernandez, BuzzFeed.News, 2020 April 17
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  385. "After her colleagues dismissed the pandemic, ‘Fox & Friends’ weekend co-host contracts the coronavirus" by Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times, 2020 April 9
  386. "New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified the severity of the pandemic" by Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, 2020 June 25
  387. "Elon Musk and Grimes welcome a baby boy" by Alaa Elassar, 2020 May 5, CNN
  388. "Elon Musk said he isn't the 'biggest fan' of Warren Buffett. The billionaires have butted heads before." by Theron Mohamed, Business Insider, 2020 May 11
  389. "Coronavirus has Elon Musk acting like just another used car salesman" by Julia Carrie Wong, Guardian, 2020 May 1
  390. "Elon Musk claimed Tesla stock was priced 'too high,' causing shares to fall and shareholders to react. It's the latest in a string of controversial comments from the Tesla CEO over the past 2 months." by Avery Hartmans and Paige Leskin, Business Insider, 2020 May 1
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  392. It is now evident that this is an orchestrated attempt to destroy CAPITALISM. First sports, then schools and finally commercial businesses. Time to RISE UP and push back. Bars and restaurants should defy the order. Let people decide if they want to go out. by SheriffClarke (3:31 PM - 15 Mar 2020) Twitter (16 Mar 2020 02:22:10 UTC).
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  419. DR OZ: "Schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3%, in terms of total mortality. Any, you know, any life is a life lost, but … that might be a tradeoff some folks would consider." by Aaron Rupar (8:25 AM - 16 Apr 2020) Twitter (archived from 16 Apr 2020 20:46:55 UTC).
  420. Dr. Oz, Fox’s all-purpose coronavirus pundit, apologizes for pushing the ‘trade-off’ of reopening schools by Paul Farhi & Elahe Izadi (April 16, 2020 at 5:02 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
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  475. "Bolsonaro uses Brazil's dictatorship-era law as protesters depict him as a Nazi", Associated Press, 2021 March 19, reprinted at TheGuardian.com
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  479. "A virus that hits all faiths tests religion’s tie to science" By Elana Schor and Marian Fam, AP, 2020 Apr 15
  480. Cellphone data shows coronavirus kept churchgoers at home in every state on Easter by Sarah Pulliam Bailey et al. (April 17 at 6:16 PM) The Washington Post.
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  482. "Tanzania’s mild response to COVID-19 and its implications for the 2020 elections" by Neil Edwards, Atlantic Council, 2020 Mar 27
  483. "Special Report: Five days of worship that set a virus time bomb in France" by Tangi Salaun, Reuters, 2020 March 30
  484. "Nearly 3 dozen who attended Arkansas church event test positive for coronavirus" by Janelle Griffith, NBC News, 2020 March 26
  485. ["CDC tracks cluster of coronavirus cases in rural Arkansas to church, raising alarm on religious gatherings"] by William Feuer, CNBC, 2020 May 19
  486. "One German church service resulted in more than 100 coronavirus infections" by Zeeshan Aleem, Vox, 2020 May 24
  487. "2 dead from coronavirus, 45 ill after March choir rehearsal" by Theresa Waldrop, Konstantin Toropin and Joe Sutton, CNN, 2020 April 2
  488. Seoul city seeks murder charges against sect founder over virus AFP March 2, 2020
  489. "Israel Faces Challenges In Fighting Coronavirus In Ultra-Orthodox Communities" by Daniel Estrin, NPR, 2020 April 1
  490. "Israel health minister under fire over ultra-Orthodox COVID-19 crisis" by Ben Simon, AFP, 2020 April 8
  491. "Calls to seal off ultra-Orthodox areas add to Israel's virus tensions" by Oliver Holmes and Quique Kierszenbaum, Guardian, 2020 April 6
  492. "Israeli Health Minister Diagnosed With Coronavirus; Top Officials Forced to Quarantine" by Aaron Rabinowitz, Haaretz, 2020 April 02
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  496. "Tanzania: Authorities must end crackdown on journalists reporting on COVID-19", Amnesty International, 2020 April 21
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  501. Where's Magufuli? Tanzanian leader's absence fuels health concern by David Lewis & Duncan Miriri (March 10, 2021 4:34 AM) Reuters.
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  503. "Tanzania's Covid-denying president, John Magufuli, dies aged 61" by Jason Burke, Guardian, 2021 Mar 18
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  505. "Rodney Howard-Browne Gives Alex Jones A Handgun, Assures Him He’s Protected By God" by Kyle Mantyla, Right Wing Watch, 2018 May 17
  506. "Florida Pastor Arrested After Defying Virus Orders" by Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, 2020 March 30
  507. "Preaching conspiracies: Coronavirus puts Tampa pastor’s beliefs into mainstream spotlight" by Tony Marrero, Tampabay.com, 2020 April 16
  508. "Florida megachurch pastor says he's closing church due to 'tyrannical government'" by Kaelan Deese, The Hill, 2020 April 02
  509. "Second pastor charged with violating public orders says church doors will still be open on Sunday" br Daniel Burke, CNN, 2020 April 1
  510. [https://www.tmz.com/2020/04/08/louisiana-pastor-tony-spell-arrested-coronavirus-worshipers-sacrifice-god/ "If Parishioners Die After Contracting COVID-19 ... IT'S A SACRIFICE FOR GOD AND FREEDOM!!!"] by TMZ, April 8 2020
  511. "Member of defiant Central church dies from coronavirus illness, but pastor says it's a lie" by David J. Mitchell, The Advocate, 2020 April 16
  512. "Arrest warrant issued for defiant Louisiana pastor" by WAFB Staff, WAFB 9, 2020 April 20
  513. "Falwell Focuses on Critics as Coronavirus Cases Near His University Grow" by Elizabeth Williamson, New York Times, 2020 April 16
  514. "Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too" by Elizabeth Williamson, New York Times, 2020 March 29
  515. "Two Liberty University employees test positive for coronavirus" by Richard Chumney, News and Advance, 2020 April 16
  516. "Pastor Who Defied Social Distancing Dies After Contracting Covid-19, Church Says" by Neil Vigdor, New York Times, April 14 2020
  517. "Bishop who defied lockdown to hold sermons is killed by coronavirus" by Jimmy McCloskey, Metro UK, 2020 Apr 14
  518. "A monastery in Ukraine once scoffed at coronavirus measures. Now it is a hot spot." by David L. Stern, Washington Post, 2020 April 17
  519. 519.0 519.1 519.2 The Truth About "Dramatic Action" by Da Shiji (达史纪) (Jan 27, 2020) China Media Project.
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  521. "China tried to keep a lid on the coronavirus. It put everyone at risk." by the Editorial Board, Washington Post, 2020 January 29
  522. 'Hero who told the truth': Chinese rage over coronavirus death of whistleblower doctor" by Verna Yu, Guardian, 2020 February 7
  523. "Obituary: Li Wenliang" by The Economist, 2020 February 13 edition
  524. "China’s Official Newspaper Mislabels Video Footage in Coronavirus Coverage" by Dan MacGuill, Snopes,com, 2020 February 2020
  525. "China Ramps Up Censorship On Coronavirus As Critics Risk Criminal Charges" by Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes, 2020 February 12
  526. "How the Coronavirus Revealed Authoritarianism’s Fatal Flaw" by Zeynep Tufecki, The Atlantic, 2020 February 22
  527. "Coronavirus Weakens China’s Powerful Propaganda Machine" by Li Yuan, New York Times, 2020 February 27
  528. Chinese scientist filed covid sequence weeks before official release, records show by Dan Diamond (January 17, 2024 at 4:33 p.m. EST) The Washington Post.
  529. Chinese Lab Mapped Deadly Coronavirus Two Weeks Before Beijing Told the World, Documents Show: The lead time could have proved critical in combating pandemic, specialists say by Warren P. Strobel (Jan. 17, 2024 4:14 pm ET) The Washington Post.
  530. 530.0 530.1 New book offers fresh details about chaos, conflicts inside Trump’s pandemic response: At one point, the president mused about transferring infected American citizens in Asia to Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba by Dan Diamond (June 21, 2021 at 4:00 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  531. Trump team failed to follow NSC's pandemic playbook: The 69-page document, finished in 2016, provided a step by step list of priorities – which were then ignored by the administration. by Dan Diamond and Nahal Toosi (03/25/2020 08:00 PM EDT) Politico.
  532. Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents Executive Office of the President of the United States.
  533. We literally left them a 69-page Pandemic Playbook… that they ignored And an office called the Pandemic Preparedness Office… that they abolished. And a global monitoring system called PREDICT … that they cut by 75% by Ronald Klain (6:12 PM - 11 May 2020) Twitter (archived from 12 May 2020 13:41:13 UTC).
  534. McConnell’s claim that Obama left behind no ‘game plan’ for the coronavirus outbreak by Glenn Kessler (May 14, 2020 at 12:00 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  535. Trump brags about high TV viewership of coronavirus briefings by Jan Wolfe (March 29, 2020 / 11:39 AM) Reuters.
  536. "Media Covering Coronavirus to ‘Bring Down the President,’ Mulvaney Claims" by Annie Karni, New York Times, 2020 February 28
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  543. "HHS whistleblower claims US workers received coronavirus evacuees without proper precautions" by Kristen Holmes, Amanda Watts and Caroline Kelly, CNN. February 28, 2020
  544. Courtney Kube and Mosheh Gains, Navy relieves captain who raised alarm about coronavirus outbreak on aircraft carrier. NBC News, April 3, 2020
  545. "Trump Again Casts Doubt On Fauci As COVID-19 Cases Surge" by Barbara Sprunt, Tamara Keith, Franco Orodnez, and Alana Wise, NPR, 2020 July 13
  546. "Fauci is sidelined by the White House as he steps up blunt talk on pandemic" by Yasmeen Abutaleb, Josh Dawsey and Laurie McGinley, Washington Post, 2020 July 11
  547. "As Florida coronavirus cases spike, Ron DeSantis says mask requirement won’t work" by Kirby Wilson, Tampa Bay Times, 2020 June 26
  548. "White House takes aim at Fauci but Trump has no current plans to fire him, source says" by Kristen Holmes and Kaitlan Collins, CNN, 2020 July 13
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  550. "With a curfew and unreliable virus toll, Egypt faces a cruel Ramadan", Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz, March 29, 2020
  551. "El Salvador’s president is using covid-19 as an excuse to abuse his power" by the Washington Post Editorial Board, 2020 May 1
  552. "Authoritarian leaders are using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to lock up dissenters and grab power, human rights experts warn" by Cristina Maza, Business Insider, 2020 Apr 9
  553. How coronavirus helps Putin by Alec Luhn, Politico, 2020 March 18
  554. "For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power" by Selam Gebrekidan, New York Times, 2020 March 30
  555. "Would-be autocrats are using covid-19 as an excuse to grab more power", The Economist, 2020 April 23
  556. "Democracies contain epidemics most effectively", The Economist, 2020 June 6
  557. Carl Benedikt Frey, Chinchih Chen, and Giorgio Presidente. "Democracy, Culture, and Contagion: Political Regimes and Countries Responsiveness to Covid-19*", Oxford Martin School, Oxford University, 2020 May 13
  558. "Ugandan police accused of abusing lockdown laws after LGBT arrests" by Jason Burke, 2020 Apr 1, The Guardian
  559. "The coronavirus brings new and awful repression for Uighurs in China" by Josh Rogin, Washington Post, 2020 February 26
  560. "China: Covid-19 Discrimination Against Africans", Human Rights Watch, 5 May 2020
  561. "India’s Hindu Nationalists Are Inciting Hate By Claiming Muslims Are Spreading Coronavirus" by David Gilbert, Vice, 2020 April 20
  562. "Trump's coronavirus order scapegoats immigrants and doesn't make us safer" by Linda Chavez and Scott Roehm, USA Today, 2020 April 28
  563. "Venezuela declares war on those infected with coronavirus" by Anataoly Kurmanaev, Isayen Herrera and Sheyla Urdanetta, The Irish Times 2020 August 19
  564. Covid-19 Forces 100,000 Venezuelan Migrants Back to Broken Country by John Otis, The Wall Street Journal 2020 August 30
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  566. India’s Catastrophic Coronavirus Surge Highlights Global Vulnerabilities by Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder (May 3, 2021, at 5:12 p.m.) U.S. News & World Report.
  567. 567.0 567.1 567.2 567.3 567.4 After vaccines became available, a partisan gap in deaths emerged by Philip Bump (October 3, 2022 at 4:20 p.m. EDT) The Washington Post.
  568. Excess Death Rates for Republicans and Democrats During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Jacob Wallace et a. (September 2022) National Bureau of Economic Research. NBER Working Paper 30512.
  569. Resistance to vaccine mandates is building. A powerful network is helping. A New York firm has filed suit or sent letters to employers in several states as part of an effort spearheaded by one of the largest anti-vaccination groups in the country. by Isaac Stanley-Becker (May 26, 2021 at 1:28 p.m. EDT) The Washington Post.
  570. 570.0 570.1 570.2 The evidence is building: Vaccine mandates work — and well by Aaron Blake (September 29, 2021).
  571. Sen. Cruz Issues Statement on President Biden Imposing COVID Vaccine Mandates on Businesses U.S> Senator for Texas, Ted Cruz.
  572. Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace (August 13, 2021) Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor.
  573. Vaccine Mandates Are Lawful, Effective and Based on Rock-Solid Science: Clear legal pathways exist to move the U.S. closer to herd immunity by Lawrence O. Gostin (August 5, 2021) Scientific American.