The pandemic has really pushed things into overdrive with regards to unfounded COVID-19 conspiracy theories of big pharma and big tech colluding together to do all kinds of nefarious things to humanity.
That these claims often have very little real evidence to back them up hasn’t stopped them spreading rampant on the internet and social media as well as through more traditional means such as brochures, stickers and leaflets.
With Lab Down Under recently receiving one of a brochure bearing the face of well-known conspiracy theorist and anti-vaxxer Dr Judy Mikovits stuffed into our mailbox (see below), we thought this would be a good time to examine the claims made within to see how they hold up.
Image: Scan of the COVID-19 conspiracy brochure Lab Down Under found in our mailbox (transcript found below)
Cherry-picked, low quality research sources
The first claim made is that there is “irrefutable medical evidence” of a COVID-19 cure costing $3, apparently the combination of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and zinc, with a further claim being that this “cure” is being suppressed by both Big Pharma and Big Tech to conduct “genocide”.
Two news segments seem to be put there as sources for this, but a lack of any URLs pointing to these segments has made it difficult to be 100% sure which broadcasts they’re referring to just by looking at the leaflet. This is just bad form as any sources put forwards as evidence should be made readily transparent so that the reader can assess it on their own.
The first appears to be an ABC7 interview with one Dr Anthony Cardillo of Mend Urgent Care in Sherman Oaks, California. ABC7 did indeed interview Dr Cardillo in April last year about using hydroxychloroquine with zinc to help treat COVID-19 in 95 out-patients. However, the data here did not come from a clinical trial, with Dr Cardillo reportedly saying the evidence was anecdotal and had not been peer reviewed.
The second source seems to be a segment by Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham. While Ingraham has had a number of broadcasts about hydroxychloroquine on its own and its purported benefits, Lab Down Under could not find any segments talking about the combination of hydroxychloroquine and zinc in treating COVID-19.
In April last year, Ingraham interviewed Dr Stephen Smith, founder of The Smith Center for Infectious Diseases and Urban Health in New Jersey. Smith said he had treated 72 patients with hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, claiming that not a single patient had to be intubated while on this drug combination and that the chances of this happening by chance were “ridiculously low”. It is worth noting that this was not a clinical trial and the data did not seem to have been peer reviewed either.
An August tweet by Ingraham claimed that hydroxychloroquine, zinc and plant pigment quercetin should be used “prophylactically”, i.e. in a preventive manner, to protect against COVID-19. To back up this claim, she linked to an article in the Swiss Policy Research blog which referenced two US studies which apparently showed an 84 per cent decrease in hospitalisations and a 45 per cent decrease in mortality through treatment with hydroxychloroquine and zinc. Not only has the SPR blog been previously called out for its inaccurate and misleading claims, but the two studies linked to were both retrospective observational studies done in hospital out-patients.
We can see a common thread here in the claims made in that the “research” which is pointed to are observational studies. However, when one looks at systematic reviews of double blinded randomised controlled trials looking at hydroxychloroquine and zinc in the treatment of COVID-19, we get a very different picture. Numerous studies (here, here and here) have found that hydroxychloroquine by itself is not effective at treating COVID-19. While there is less information on using hydroxychloroquine supplemented with zinc, a November 2020 clinical trial (here) found the combination did not improve treatment efficiency.
About that $3 price, it’s hard to see where that comes from. However, hydroxychloroquine can be purchased at Chemist Warehouse with the appropriate prescription for $16.99 or $5.60 if you’re on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme! And that doesn’t even include the cost of the zinc.
As for the genocide claim, this is hyperbole at its greatest, even if you assume (wrongly) that all adverse reaction fatalities are actually caused by the vaccines (more on that below). The claim doesn’t even match with the definition of genocide which is “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. No one is targeting any such group in the hope of eliminating them with vaccines which, by the way, are still voluntary and which seem to be a pretty horrible way to kill off swathes of the population due to their low mortality rates.
Dr Judy Mikovits pushes COVID-19 conspiracy claims
Halfway down the first page, we see the smiling face of Dr Mikovits and a claim that COVID-19 vaccines (in quotation marks of course) are “gene therapy poisons”. Before I go onto looking at that claim, let’s take a short detour to examine Dr Mikovits herself.
Dr Mikovits obtained a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from George Washington University in 1991. Becoming a research director at the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Nevada, she published a controversial paper in Science in October 2009 which suggested an “infectious retrovirus” called xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) caused chronic fatigue syndrome. By 2011, the entire paper had been retracted with other scientists unable to replicate the findings. Mikovits refused to sign the retraction but took part in another replication effort which found no trace of XMRV in 300 patients with CFS.
After Mikovits left WPI, the firm sued her for allegedly taking laboratory notebooks and other material. Since 2012, she has not published any new scientific research. She has however doubled down on her XMRV claims and has made claims linking retroviruses such as XMRV to autism and cancer, saying a brief stint in jail for allegedly taking materials from WPI was an attempt to silence her by the deep state and big pharma. More recently, she was the author behind the viral video, Plandemic, which purports to unveil a grand conspiracy stretching back a century that planned out the COVID-19 pandemic, using vaccines to make profits.
This ties into the claims that COVID-19 vaccines are “gene therapy”, a persistent piece of disinformation which has been floating around since Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine was made available. There is no evidence that mRNA vaccines alter the human genome or get incorporated into it in any way. The mRNA merely produces an immune response once injected and then breaks down, ultimately being removed from the body. This COVID-19 conspiracy merely seems to be an attempt to latch people’s attention onto the phrase mRNA, which looks like DNA, and cause fear around that.
The next claim about COVID-19 vaccines failing to stop contagion or transmission of the disease is actually true, although it’s misleading as it omits to mention mounting evidence that the vaccines will reduce the chance of severe symptoms for anyone infected with the disease and lower the chance that a vaccinated person will pass on the disease to others. This is the whole point of the vaccine rollout. No one ever said that the vaccines would completely prevent hospitalisation or transmission, but then no vaccine is 100% effective anyway. So this claim is just an attempt to spin a fact about the vaccines and make it seem like the vaccines are useless at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The brochure then goes on to say that COVID-19 vaccines manufacturers will be free of liability. This is also true, but it does not necessarily mean there is anything nefarious going on. There are any number of reasons why government adopted to indemnify pharmaceutical firms such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca for any adverse effects of their vaccines. However, this also does not mean anyone who suffers adverse effects will not be compensated, with numerous countries implementing a no fault compensation scheme and Australia making an “indemnity deal” with the manufacturers. These kinds of arrangements could simply be in place to encourage the companies to make and sell their vaccines and combat the pandemic as quickly as they can, as pharmaceutical firms are generally very cautious when selling their products on the market and are keen to preserve their reputation.
The last thing on the first page is a link to yourlifeisatrisk.com which seems to be the whole focus of the scare tactics used in the brochure. Lab Down Under browsed the website and it was full of even further COVID-19 conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated claims of the type seen in the leaflet. According to Domain Whois Lookup, the site was created in March this year. No information about the owners of the site is publicly available. For now, we will limit our analysis to the brochure however, and ignore the website, otherwise this article will become needlessly lengthy.
Fake fear around adverse reactions
So we finally move onto the second page of the brochure which will hopefully be less time consuming to trawl through. From the beginning we’re hit with some alleged “adverse reactions” from the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines with what seems to be at first glance as some scary numbers from March this year making the false claim that around 500 people have died!
However, let’s have a look at the link included in the flyer (big props to the authors for actually including the link this time). The URL takes us to the UK Government’s weekly reports for adverse reactions for approved COVID-19 vaccines. The numbers have updated since the flyer was posted but the general falsity of the claims within still remains, as can be seen from the first page of the Pfizer report which states:
“A report of a suspected [adverse reaction] to the Yellow Card scheme does not necessarily mean that it was caused by the vaccine, only that the reporter has a suspicion it may have. Underlying or previously undiagnosed illness unrelated to vaccination can also be factors in such reports. The relative number and nature of reports should therefore not be used to compare the safety of the different vaccines.”
In other words, these reactions merely took place after a person received a vaccination and may be suspected to be connected but have yet to be causally linked to the vaccines. Just because one thing happens after another means that the second thing was caused by the first after all! This database is similar to the US Government’s national vaccine safety monitoring system VAERS in that both compile lists of potentially linked reactions which can be then further investigated later on. They’re there to gather enough information on which to base later research but are not conclusive findings on their own.
The added “note” is definitely a nothing burger, saying that the lists don’t include unreported or future adverse reactions. That much should be obvious to anyone who’s ever compiled a list. It’s impossible to include items we don’t yet know about or which have not happened yet! What the note should have said is that there’s no evidence these reactions are actually linked to the vaccines.
Final remarks on grand conspiracies
This brochure and the associated website seem to be a case of throwing so many theories at the wall to see what sticks. Of course, such a broad ranging COVID-19 conspiracy such as the one claimed here would involve so many people that it would collapse in on itself. First off, you have the pharmaceutical firms that make the vaccines being involved as well as global governments and the big tech firms like Facebook which are vetting conspiracy theories like these from their platforms.
But that’s not all. You’d also have to involve vaccine scientists who aren’t employed by the big pharma firms as they’re backing up existing safety and efficacy studies with their own research. Doctors and nurses at hospitals and clinics would also have to be in on the cover-up since they’d be seeing people dying of these vaccines without actually saying anything on the public record.
Once your grand conspiracy has to involve such massive amounts of people, it’s easy to see how implausible it is for such a conspiracy to actually exist in reality without a whole lot of people speaking out about it. According to a 2016 study, these types of grand conspiracies would unravel in mere years due to the sheer number of people who would have to have been involved.
Yes, there are actual real life conspiracies but these can be kept under wraps by involving fewer people. Knowing that, it’s highly improbable that the COVID-19 pandemic was planned by a joint collaboration between governments, pharma companies, tech firms and more. And that’s on top of the realisation that these types of conspiracies are built on flimsy pieces of evidence as discussed above.
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Transcript of brochure (page 1):
IRREFUTABLE MEDICAL EVIDENCE A COVID 19 CURE (Costs $3)
The suppression of this CURE by BIG PHARMA & BIG TECH is GENOCIDE
ABC7 EYEWITNESS NEWS SUCCESSFUL treatment HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & ZINC for COVID 19
COVID 19 CURE!!
SUCCESS of: HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & ZINC for COVID 19
American Molecular Biologist & Virologist
Dr Judy Mikovits Explains Why Covid 19 “VACCINES” are GENE THERAPY POISONS
Also they don’t stop Covid 19 CONTAGION or TRANSMISSION & THERE”S NO LIABILITY! Watch the videos confirming all the above: YOURLIFEISATRISK.COM
Transcript of brochure (page 2):
UK Government Report COVID 19 VACCINES ADVERSE REACTIONS
Reports Run Date: 09-Mar-2021
NOTE: These reports don’t include unreported adverse reactions and more importantly, the future adverse reactions and diseases predicted by many doctors.
1ST REPORT: mRNA PFIZER VACCINE
Blood disorders: 2,294 (1 Fatal) (61 Pages)
Cardiac disorders: 1,153 (26 Fatal)
Congenital disorders: 5
Hearing disorders: 819
Endocrine disorders: 12
Eye disorders: 1,398 (15 Blind)
Gastrointestinal disorders: 10,534 (12 Fatal)
General disorders: 28,915 (114 Fatal)
Liver disorders: 18
Immune system disorders: 528
Infections: 2,059 (38 Fatal)
Injuries: 458 (1 Fatal)
Continued investigations: 1,073
Metabolic disorders: 587 (1 Fatal)
Muscle-tissue disorders: 12,823
Nervous system disorders: 18,059 (17 Fatal)
Pregnancy: 34 (1 Fatal)
Psychiatric disorders: 1,409
Renal/urinary disorder: 212
Reproductive & breast disorders: 389
Respiratory disorders: 3,986 (14 Fatal)
Skin disorder: 6,809 (1 Fatal)
Surgical/medical procedures: 58
Vascular disorders: 1,119 (1 Fatal)
TOTAL ADVERSE REACTIONS: 94,809
TOTAL DEATHS: 227
2ND REPORT: ASTRAZENECA VACCINE
Blood disorders: 1,098 (1 Fatal) (63 Pages)
Cardiac disorders: 1,922 (39 Fatal)
Congenital disorders: 16
Hearing disorders: 1,217
Endocrine disorders: 36
Eye disorders: 2,150 (28 Fatal)
Gastrointestinal disorders: 22,336 (5 Fatal)
General disorders: 71,732 (153 Fatal)
Liver disorders: 29
Immune system disorders: 542
Infections: 3,839 (38 Fatal)
Injuries: 916 (1 Fatal)
Continued investigations: 2,436
Metabolic disorders: 2,644 (2 Fatal)
Muscle-tissue disorders: 24,631
Neoplasms: 18 (1 Fatal)
Nervous system disorders: 43,951 (19 Fatal)
Product Physical Issues: 11
Psychiatric disorders: 3,554
Renal/urinary disorder: 563 (1 Fatal)
Reproductive & breast disorders: 297
Respiratory disorders: 5,323 (11 Fatal)
Skin disorder: 10,507
Social Circumstances: 48
Surgical/medical procedures: 151 (1 Fatal)
Vascular disorders: 1,635 (3 Fatal)
TOTAL ADVERSE REACTIONS: 201,622
TOTAL DEATHS: 275
TOTAL ADVERSE REACTIONS: 296,431
TOTAL DEATHS: 502
Featured image: Excerpt from the brochure with potentially problematic words for social media platforms redacted out