Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s battle against vaccines — and against the institutions that promote them — goes back to at least the mid-2000s, as we explain in the first article of this series. But the arrival of COVID-19 gave the environmental attorney fresh grounds to intensify his attacks and a timely platform to gain new followers and revenue.
It remains unknown how the virus that causes COVID-19 originated, but many scientists think a natural spillover is most likely. Online posts have cited unnamed sources to claim that scientists in Wuhan, China, were the first to get sick with COVID-19. But U.S. intelligence says the researchers’ symptoms were non-specific or inconsistent with COVID-19, and the information has no bearing on the origin of the pandemic.
Human coronaviruses first identified in the 1960s cause common colds. But a viral video misrepresents early research on common coronaviruses and cites unrelated patents to falsely suggest U.S. scientists created the viruses that cause SARS and COVID-19. The video also is not footage of official testimony before the European Parliament.
The U.S. indirectly funded some bat coronavirus research at a lab in Wuhan, China. But those experiments could not have led to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, because the viruses used were very different. Yet former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro repeated a false claim that Dr. Anthony Fauci “killed a lot of people” by funding the lab.
Republicans say a letter from a National Institutes of Health official is an admission that the agency funded so-called gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in China, with some falsely linking the work to the pandemic coronavirus. But the research, which the NIH maintains is not gain-of-function, could not have led to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.