‘Plandemic: Indoctornation’ is the 75-minute long sequel to the wildly viral original video titled ‘Plandemic’ that released in May 2020 and sent fact-checkers into a tizzy keeping up with the conspiracy theories spouted by it.
Given that the first video gathered more than 8 million views across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram within a week of its release, the sequel hasn’t gone as viral.
But it still traces the steps of its predecessor in making false claims and propagating conspiracy theories about – coronavirus, vaccines, Dr Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, media and fact-checkers and even Google as a search engine.
With Facebook blocking access to the link of the video and Twitter limiting the reach, most of the video’s popularity seems to have been driven by a website called London Reach which livestreamed the premiere of the film on Tuesday, 18 August.
But the video remains available online freely and having viewed it, here’s our breakdown of some of the baseless claims it makes.
1. COVID-19 Pandemic Predicted?
The film opens with a montage from an event called ‘Event 201’, where speakers are discussing a worldwide pandemic and the appropriate reaction to its consequences.
This segment is taken up later in the film as well, with director Mikki Willis drawing a direct connect between this event and insinuating that world leaders had predicted the outbreak of COVID-19.
“Event 201 took place five months before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Participants in the event were some of the same people who are now deeply involved in the real pandemic – and profiting from it as well.”Mikki Willis, Director, Plandemic
But as even the film mentions, the event, which was held in October 2019 was merely a simulation of what would happen if such an incident were to occur, with a speaker saying right at the beginning of the clip that “the Event 201 scenario is fictional.”
According to the website of the event, ‘Event 201’ was an exercise involving 15 global leaders that “simulated a series of dramatic, scenario-based facilitated discussions, confronting difficult, true-to-life dilemmas associated with response to a hypothetical, but scientifically plausible, pandemic.”
The scenario being discussed at the exercise was an outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus which transmitted from bats to pigs to people which eventually reached humans, leading to a severe pandemic.
The perfectly plausible reason for such an exercise? The repeated occurrence of epidemics across the world, especially with two outbreaks of coronaviruses.
This is also combined with the agreements of experts on the fact that there could soon be a pandemic of global proportions, disrupting the world and requiring leaders to come together and understand the challenges of such a crisis and work towards a solution.
Willis completes this claim with the insinuation that Dr Anthony Fauci was aware in 2017 that the world “would see an outbreak before the end of 2020”.
So was COVID-19 predicted? Not really. Three events akin to ‘Event 201’ had also been held before to discuss and beat a fictional pandemic. One of the organisers of the event, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, has also since clarified in a statement that Event 201 was not a prediction but a model of a fictional coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, while Dr Fauci did actually say that there would be a “surprise outbreak”, he wasn’t predicting or issuing a warning about the coronavirus threat, but making a more general observation of upcoming challenges in the arena of health and a variety of diseases, based on his experience.
2. Lab-Made Virus
The film naturally harps on this oft-repeated COVID-19 related conspiracy theory, with Meryl Nass, one of the people Willis interviewed for the film, saying that the virus is man-made, originating from a lab.
“Early in this pandemic, I did not think the coronavirus was a natural occurrence from bats. I feel quite convinced that this was a laboratory-designed organism.”Meryl Nass, Physician, Researcher and Writer
This claim is later repeated by Professor Luc Montagnier, a Nobel Laureate, medical researcher and virologist, who says, “It could be done by somebody very expert in molecular biology I think.” Montagnier has made this claim before as well in a televised interview, a clip of which is also included in the film.
This is a completely false claim that The Quint has debunked before as well, as have many other fact-checkers. The evidence against this claim?
WHO has repeatedly said that this virus is zoonotic in nature, meaning it occurs in and has originated in animals. A study published in reputed journal Nature said that their analyses have showed that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct and that it is “improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus.”
3. Vaccines: To Trust or Not to Trust?
In one segment of the film, Willis lashes out at vaccines and the supposed harm they cause, by speaking about two vaccination drives held in India, specifically targeting Bill Gates.
One of the incidents he refers to is that of the cervical cancer vaccine, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which in 2009 was administered to all the eligible girls in 10-14 years age-group in three blocks in the districts of Khammam, Andhra Pradesh and Vadodara, Gujarat.
Through news clips and interviews, Willis attempts to put forth the claim that this vaccine was responsible for the death of seven girls and illnesses in many others. While the incident is true, the claim is not, and The Quint had debunked this claim earlier as well.
This vaccination drive was part of a global project, titled “HPV Vaccine: Evidence for Impact” which was carried out in India, Peru, Uganda and Vietnam.
An American NGO – Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) – carried out the project in collaboration with state governments and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The study was suspended in March 2010 over reports of the deaths of seven of the girls who had received the HPV vaccine under the PATH project.
However, a committee constituted by the Government of India found that the deaths occurred due to various other reasons and there was no evidence to suggest that they were caused by the vaccine.
Also to be noted here is that the organisation that ran the project is PATH, and the study in question was merely funded by a grant from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Another instance that Willis refers to is the mass oral polio vaccination drive in India, quoting a study which concluded that “over 490,000 children in India developed paralysis as a result of the Gates-supported oral polio vaccine that was administered between the years of 2000 and 2017.”
Acute flaccid paralysis resembles the floppy limb paralysis caused by polio, but is not caused by poliovirus, AFP reports. Moreover, Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a leading cause of acute flaccid paralysis.
While the study that Willis refers to does exist, it received criticism for its methodology, partly because it included reported cases of the 0-15 year age group. The use of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) in Intensified Pulse Polio Immunisation (IPPI) or Pulse Polio campaigns is actually carried out in children in the age range of 0-5 years.
Further, the claim made by Mary Holland, an interviewee in this segment of the film, that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was “kicked out of India” over vaccination issues is also false, and was denied by India’s Health Ministry.
4. CDC..Coronavirus Patent...What?
Early on in the film, one of the interviewees who features heavily in the film, David E Martin, says, "In 2003, the Center for Disease Control saw the possibility of a gold strike. And that was the coronavirus outbreak that happened in Asia … they sought to patent it, and they made sure that they controlled the proprietary rights to the disease, to the virus, and to its detection and all of the measurement of it."
This claim is similar to claims fact-checked by The Quint before as well and is false and misleading.
While it is true that CDC filed a patent in 2003 about the nucleic acid sequencing of the SARS coronavirus genome, it was to "provide methods and compositions useful in detecting the presence of a SARS-CoV nucleic acid in a sample and/or diagnosing a SARS-CoV infection in a subject."
It was about combating the virus by getting to know its DNA, and certainly not to spread it further, as the CDC said in a briefing in 2003. The aim stated by CDC was that by taking steps to secure a patent, they would be able to continue to make the virus and the products from the virus available in the public domain, essentially to ensure access to the virus.
According to PolitiFact, the CDC won the application in 2007 but does not "control the proprietary rights to" SARS, as claimed by Martin.
Bring It On, Said Tech Giants
In comparison to its prequel, ‘Plandemic 2’ pales, partly because its release was expected and tech giants were ready to take action to limit the spread of the film.
Facebook blocked users from sharing the link in posts and private messages. “Given the previous Plandemic video violated our COVID misinformation policies, we blocked access to that domain from our services,” a Facebook company spokesperson told AFP by email.
Twitter did not block the video but added a warning label, marking it as unsafe, while TikTok appeared to be blocking searches for ‘Plandemic’.
YouTube said that while they had not seen much activity, they would be removing full versions of the video as it violates its policies on COVID-19 misinformation, AFP reported.
However on Instagram, the movie continued to be shared without obstacles or warning labels of any kind.
The Quint had said this of the first ‘Plandemic’ video: “It’s pretty clear that the video bases itself on a number of conspiracy theories, a handful of unsubstantiated claims and many allegations.”
We feel it remains true of its less viral, longer successor as well.
(With inputs from AFP and PolitiFact.)
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