Note: Halfway through my writing this, I found reports on the video. They do a good job of summarizing the video and pointing out the bogus claims. Media Matters and HuffPost have two good stories.
Coronavirus has brought out new conspiracy theories. On top of worrying about whether friends or family are staying safe, I find myself also worrying whether they are getting information from reputable, trusted, news sources. I’ve seen multiple posts from Facebook friends spreading misinformation. Most have been related to Coronavirus treatments. This morning I came across a full-blown conspiracy video that claimed (with zero evidence) that the current pandemic is part of a conspiracy hatched by Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates.
I, impolitely, asked the poster to stop spreading bullshit. This was not the right way to go about this. It’s mean, and closes an avenue of dialogue that might be used to debunk the conspiracy. This is my attempt to debunk the conspiracy, and reopen the dialogue.
The video in question is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGbYHJcMbz8. It features Rashid Buttar in a 48 minute long rant. I watched all of it in a couple sittings. It took me about 45 minutes to watch, and research, the first 17 minutes of the video. The rest of the video consists of the interview subject making even more outlandish claims that I won’t bother to refute. I recognize that in a proper debate, I am supposed to address every claim, but I simply don’t want to spend more time on this. The first third of the video is easily refuted to the point that it’s not logical to believe the remaining two-thirds are truthful or supported by evidence.
Here is the conspiracy as I understand it:
The NIH paused funding for research intended to create novel potential pandemic pathogens. Anthony Fauci got around this moratorium by sending funds to a lab in China that performed this research. In 2017, Fauci predicted the Trump administration would face a pandemic. Ergo, Fauci had a hand in creating the coronavirus.
Additionally, the increased use of 5G radio wavelengths, weakens immune systems, making the populace further susceptible to contracting coronavirus.
Why create the virus? It’s part of Bill Gates’ plan to create vaccines that (a) decrease the population and (b) implant an RFID tracker into every recipient of the vaccine. The shelter-in-place orders have been implemented to scare the populace into demanding said vaccine and getting acclimated to always being six feet apart.
Why six feet apart? That is the optimal resolution of the satellites the government will use to track us all.
At no point does Buttar explain to us why Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, and the government want to track us. Even if there was an explanation, causing a global pandemic that costs trillions of dollars seems a bit wasteful when they could simply track our phones, which most of us carry with us at all times.
Buttar also never explains what Anthony Fauci or Bill Gates have to gain from any of this. It’s unclear what power is to be gained from tracking everyone in the US. Bill Gates is literally one of the richest people on the planet. His level of wealth, and being the namesake of the most influential non-profit organization in the world practically guarantees he wields immense economic and political power. He stands to lose more than he gains. Moreover, I see no path to an increase in wealth or power for Anthony Fauci that makes causing a pandemic a valid option. He could most likely command a seven figure income if he joined the private sector. He made a little under $400K in 2018 1.
Let’s dig into the theory and individual points in the video.
Fauci funded Chinese research
The NIH did in fact pause funding for research intended to create novel potential pandemic pathogens in 2014 2. That funding pause was removed in 2017 after the NIH created a framework to guide the funding 3. There is zero evidence to support the claim that Anthony Fauci secretly funded research in China. Buttar failed to provide any evidence supporting this claim.
Additionally, most of the evidence points to COVID-19 being transferred from an animal—most likely a bat45.
Fauci predicted this pandemic in 2017
Buttar goes on to claim that Fauci predicted this pandemic in 2017. Fauci predicted the administration “is likely to experience at least one infectious disease crisis of significance” in a speech focused on pandemic preparedness 6. The prediction is based on historical outbreaks dating from Reagan (HIV/AIDS) to Obama (Ebola, Zika, H1N1). It’s a prediction that any expert would be likely to make given the historical data.
Let’s assume Anthony Fauci is part of a not-so-secret cabal with Bill Gates. Why on earth would Fauci tell the world his secret plan in 2017? If you assume these people are smart enough to plan a global pandemic, do you believe they are dumb enough to reveal the plan? That’s the equivalent to a movie villain, having captured the hero, monologuing and giving away the plan because of hubris.
Six feet of separation
Buttar served in the army. During this time he observed soldiers being tracked on the battlefield from afar. The resolution of this tracking system seems to be about six feet. That is, individuals less than six feet apart cannot be discerned from one another. This, he claims, explains why all of the social distancing advice recommends people stay at least six feet from one another—so the government can properly track us.
I don’t have any insight into military technology. I know that transponders exist on various vehicles to track their locations. I know the US government has satellites that have a much higher resolution than six feet. Donald Trump revealed as much when he tweeted classified satellite photos 7.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends staying at least six feet apart because prolonged contact leads to a higher likelihood of spreading the disease 8. In other words, people within close contact are more likely to cough, sneeze, or otherwise expel droplets in the air that may land in the mouths and noses of those nearby, thereby potentially spreading the infection.
CBS screwed up
This is the only true claim Buttar makes. CBS tweeted a video of a nurse who quit her job after being asked to work without a face mask. The hospital reported she had quit, but referred CBS to the nurse for further details 9. I’m surprised the hospital claimed the nurse quit. Most human resources teams will simply confirm or deny employment, without additional detail. Regardless, CBS should have picked a better source here.
In a separate instance, CBS used footage of an Italian hospital when doing a story on NYC hospitals. CBS admitted to the editing error.
These are the only two instances cited by Buttar of the media misleading anyone.
Buttar claims hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) treats COVID-19, and should be administered to patients. There is little evidence to suggest that HCQ treats COVID-19; however, it is still being studied 10. The same goes for any potential vaccines. These studies can take many months to ensure the efficacy of the drug and sufficient patient safety. It helps no one if we manufacture a drug that harms or even kills more people than it helps.
There is no evidence that 5G causes cancer or any other long-term bodily harm 11. Buttar and the editors would have you believe otherwise. They were especially deceptive in priming viewers that there is a “number and a letter” that the censors don’t want us to hear before proceeding to bleeping “5G” every time it was mentioned in the video. They missed a couple instances.
Depopulation through vaccination
Bill Gates does not want to kill off the population through vaccines. His words have been misconstrued to deceive you 12. A man worth $105 billion dollars will be just fine in the event of over-population.
US government indemnifies vaccine manufacturers
I actually learned something here! Buttar claims the Secretary of Health and Human Services is named on every lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers. This is partially true. The US government indemnifies vaccine manufacturers from injuries caused by certain covered vaccines, not every vaccine 13. There is no conspiracy here. In the 1980s, vaccine manufacturers threatened to stop manufacturing due to an increase in lawsuits. If the government had not stepped in, we would have vaccine shortages and, most likely, and increase in infections of preventable diseases. It is indeed normal for the Secretary of any US Department to be the first named in a lawsuit when said Department is sued.
That was the first 17 minutes of the video! If you believe any of these conspiracy theories, I urge you to ask yourself: what are the motives of the perpetrators here? Bill Gates has nothing to gain. Anthony Fauci can probably double his income in the private sector. A truly authoritarian government can already track you using your cell phone or various CCTV cameras. Triggering a global pandemic, that costs trillions of dollars, in order to inject the populace with RFID trackers would require immense planning and collaboration that we have never seen. At some point, someone would have spoken up and said, “you know everyone has radio devices in their phones, credit cards, badges, and public transit cards. Why don’t we use those instead of killing everyone?”