The COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a novel coronavirus, first isolated in January 2020. But a viral video has been spreading a conspiracy theory that the pandemic has actually been a plot to poison people with snake venom.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has continued making public appearances, although news coverage has largely shifted away from the pandemic since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and COVID-19 cases have dramatically fallen. Some politicians and pundits, however, have suggested that Fauci has become so unpopular that he has “disappeared” from public view. He hasn’t. Fauci has made at least a dozen public appearances since Feb. 15.
TV actress Betty White passed away at age 99 on Dec. 31. Following her passing, various falsehoods appeared on social media about White, including claims that she died after getting a COVID-19 booster shot and that she was the sister of former first lady Barbara Bush. White died of natural causes, according to her agent, and she had no siblings.
Scientists are still learning about the omicron variant’s ability to spread or cause severe illness and the effectiveness of the current COVID-19 vaccines in fighting it. But a Facebook post misleadingly claims to list seven “symptoms” of the new variant, then suggests they are caused by the vaccines. The list actually refers to complications of COVID-19. Two of the listed conditions are rare adverse events associated with the vaccines.
The number of U.S. plane accidents has been about the same this year as it was last year. But posts on social media falsely claim that there has been a significant increase due to pilot reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines. The Federal Aviation Administration says it has seen “no evidence of aircraft accidents or pilot incapacitations” associated with COVID-19 vaccines.
A digital device company is developing gel sensors that would monitor the wearer’s health and could potentially help to detect future outbreaks of disease. But conspiracy theorists are falsely claiming that the sensors are actually COVID-19-detecting microchips that will be used to track people’s movements.
The seven-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. has increased by 322% in two months, straining the ability of medical staff in some states to care for patients. Despite the rising numbers, an Instagram post questioned whether COVID-19 is “truly a pandemic that was ‘overwhelming hospitals,'” if hospitals are firing nurses who refuse to be vaccinated.
Participants in the 2020 Olympic Games will be subject to many COVID-19 rules. But social media posts and a news report falsely claim athletes will be sleeping on specially made, flimsy “anti-sex beds” to prevent intimacy and COVID-19 infection. The beds were designed before the pandemic and can bear more than 400 pounds, the mattress company said.