Apart from COVID-19 itself, there is a battle being waged against vaccine-related misinformation.
A lengthy Facebook (FB) post that carries several conspiracies about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been making the rounds on the platform for over two weeks. It claims that there is no pandemic but a “plan demic” meant to establish a “new world order” and warns the public that needles used in vaccinations against the disease contain microchips for tracking purposes.
The COVID-19 pandemic is real, with over 109.5 million cases of the disease recorded in 192 countries as of Feb. 17. It has claimed 2.4 million lives since it was detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
That COVID-19 vaccines and the needles used for the procedure carry microchips is a hoax repeatedly debunked by health experts and fact-checkers around the world.
For instance, infectious disease scientist Wilbur Chen of the University of Maryland’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health was quoted in a May 2020 article by PolitiFact saying “even the smallest version of RFID chips are rather large that none would ever fit into a vaccine needle.”
RFID is a data-storage and transfer technology that involves the use of a tag, which could be in the form of a chip, and a reader. The tag contains information which a reader in its vicinity could access once it is able to detect the radio waves emitted by the tag.
The circulating post falsely claimed, however, that such technology is already being used in inoculations against COVID-19 in Europe. There are no international news reports nor official records to back this up.
The untrue post, half of which consists of a status update that first made the rounds in September 2020, circulated among Filipino FB users this year via a Jan. 27 post on the FB group Philippine Peso +-*=× Kuwait Dinar. It gained traction only two days later, after it was reposted by FB page RUDY BALD WIN, which has so far gotten more than 24,000 interactions, 15,000 comments and 155,000 shares.
Posts carrying the fallacious status update surfaced the same day Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates, who was also mentioned in the post, called conspiracy theories linking him to the ongoing pandemic as “crazy” and “evil.”
Posts echo other false claims about the coronavirus
Aside from the microchipping conspiracy theory, the spurious FB posts also enumerated a number of claims that have already been debunked by VERA Files Fact Check in the past.
- that the wearing of masks will suffocate the lungs. This is not true.
- that fifth-generation (5G) technology is linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no evidence of this.
- that “99 percent” of COVID-19 deaths were caused not by the coronavirus but by other diseases. Records show that this number is incorrect, and that this interpretation of COVID-19 comorbidities — or the existence of two or more medical conditions in an individual — is inaccurate.
RUDY BALD WIN’s post also carried a collage of two photos. The first one was of Gates, taken during the Munich Security Conference in February 2017.
The second image was a screenshot of a May 2020 FB post by a netizen claiming “there’s no pandemic” and that the COVID-19 crisis is Gates’ way to implant microchips in people. It was accompanied by a photo diagram showing nasal swab testing, with an arrow pointing at the end of the swab, labeled with the text “implant microchip here.”
RUDY BALD WIN’s false post has gained the most traction among FB status updates carrying the conspiracy theory this year. It could have reached 28.1 million FB users according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, with traffic largely coming from page C O M F L I R T B U D D I E S and public groups Bibliya Tagalog and SSS CLAP | Salary Loan | Other's SSS Inquiries | Update.
The RUDY BALD WIN page was created on March 16, 2020.