Disinfo: The COVID-19 outbreak is not about a virus, it is about power

Summary

China is partly back to normal, so why drive people to suicide or hunt them like criminals? Because it’s not about the virus anymore, but about power.

Disproof

An unfounded conspiracy theory, sharing a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about "secret elites" controlling world leaders.

When in March 11, 2020 the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, there were more than 118 thousand confirmed coronavirus cases in 114 countries. An updated situation report from WHO on the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

Several countries, including in Europe, have introduced restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the contagion. Some countries are easing the restrictions, as the number of cases fall.

See more examples of  pro-Kremlin disinformation about the coronavirus here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 192
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: EU
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Conspiracy theory
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China’s political system prevails over the European Union in the fight against coronavirus

In 2009, about 200 countries were ravaged by an outbreak of swine flu H1N1. 1,632,258 people became infected and 284,500 died. The mortality rate stood at 17.4%… Did anyone announce a pandemic in 2009 or impose a lock-down? (Like in 2020) did anyone sow panic? Nothing like this has happened. When the situations in the European Union and China are compared with each other, considering the consequences of the epidemic, many acknowledge China’s advantage, including the organised nature of its health system. While the European Union is discussing the issue of “mutual assistance” and each member is trying to benefit from the infection, China has got united through the efforts of its political leadership.

Disproof

The claim contains multiple disinformation narratives.

The estimated death rate from swine flu was just 0.02 percent and not 17.4 percent, which is lower compared to the COVID-19 fatality rate, based on situation as of 14th of April 2020. The WHO estimate as of March 3 was that 3.4% of the people worldwide confirmed as having been infected with the new coronavirus had died, but the WHO officials were careful not to describe that as a mortality rate, as the situation changes all the time.

“La Stampa” is notoriously Russophobic and journalist Jacopo Iacoboni a specialist in spreading Russophobia

Russia sent 16 airplanes carrying assistance and highly specialised personnel to help our country fight the coronavirus epidemic. The people warmly welcomed out neighbour. But someone did not like this. Jacopo Iacoboni, who specialises in spreading the germs of Russophobia, a highly infectious disease, wrote an article against Russia for “La Stampa”,  a notoriously Russophobic newspaper. He accused Russia of sending this assistance not to help Italy but to exploit our misfortunes, to infiltrate Russian military intelligence agents into our barracks. He based his accusations on mysterious sources, probably close to the Atlantic Council.

This understandably irritated Moscow.  First the Russian ambassador in Italy responded, then the Defence Ministry’s spokesman.  As a result, Iacoboni became the champion of press freedom “threatened by Russia”!

Disproof

Emerging pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that Russia has become a target of a Western disinformation campaign related to the coronavirus pandemic.

This narrative is consistent with the recurrent narrative aimed at discrediting mainstream Western media by claiming it is dominated by Russophobia and spreads fake news. It is also consistent with the propaganda theme that seeks to discredit any critical views of Russian foreign or domestic policies as “Russophobia”.  By labelling them “Russophobia”, pro-Kremlin outlets degrade such views as irrational and not worthy of a serious reply.

We cannot rule out that the coronavirus will cause humanity to perish

The coronavirus epidemic has brought about the end of the global capitalist system and of the modern world. Does this mean that humanity will perish?  We do not know, but we cannot rule this out

Disproof

Emerging apocalyptic pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that  the coronavirus pandemic will soon lead to the collapse of globalisation, the fall of modern civilisation and could even bring about the end of humanity. The narrative of “imminent collapse” is one of the core instruments of pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets, used to spread demoralisation and self-doubt among target audiences, as well as to sow discord, panic and diminish trust in national authorities, the EU and international institutions.

The article provides no evidence to support its sweeping, apocalyptic claims. The Covid-19 pandemic - which  is closing borders, severely restricting travel  and disrupting supply chains - is expected to provoke a global recession, but it does not mean the catastrophic collapse of the global economic system.   Moreover, the article’s claim that the end of humanity is a possible outcome of the pandemic does not reflect reality.  The international scientific and medical community is working together like never before to understand the virus and produce a vaccine. There is coordinated, cross-border international effort to monitor and treat the disease, and to speedily develop and disseminate a vaccine across national borders to end the pandemic.