Fact Check: COVID variants release date is hoax, viral claims are false

A post is viral on social media which purportedly shows a list of coronavirus variants.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  2 Aug 2021 4:45 AM GMT
Fact Check: COVID variants release date is hoax, viral claims are false

Hyderabad: A post is viral on social media which purportedly shows a list of coronavirus variants.

Users claim novel coronavirus is a man-made virus and the variants have been planned.

"This could be interesting. Allegedly, these are the PLANNED COVID-19 VARIANTS – just look at the dates when they will be "released" to the media (sic)," reads the message.

The link to the post can be seen here.

Archive link: https://archive.is/pWtJz

Similar posts can be seen here.

Fact Check:

The claim is False

NewsMeter found that one of the viral posts shared a link of Center for Health Security to claim that the viral list is sourced from the website. However, the website speaks about `EVENT 201', jointly conducted by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, World Economic Forum, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on October 18, 2019.

The website page does not have any list of variants or the dates they will be released. However, the event focused on the responses and cooperation from industry, national governments, key international institutions, and civil society to avoid the catastrophic consequences that could arise from a large-scale pandemic.

All the viral posts also have logos of John Hopkins, World Economic Forum and World Health Organization to show that the data has been sourced from these prominent organizations. We checked the social media and websites of the mentioned organizations to gather more information.

Secondly, according to John Hopkins, variants of viruses occur when there is a change or mutation — to the virus's genes. Multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus are detected which are different from the first reported in China.

The report quoted Stuart Ray, vice chair of medicine for data integrity and analytics, who said: "New variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are detected every week. Most come and go — some persist but don't become more common; some increase in the population for a while, and then fizzle out. When a change in the infection pattern first pops up, it can be very hard to tell what's driving the trend — changes to the virus, or changes in human behavior. It is worrisome that similar changes to the spike protein are arising independently on multiple continents."

According to WHO, all viruses including SARS-CoV-2 change their sequencing over time, with little or no change in the property. However, some changes impact their properties like how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, the performance of vaccines, or other public health and social measures.

WHO said that the variants of coronavirus emerged in late 2020. These variants posed an increased risk to global public health and prompted the characterization of specific Variants of Interest (VOIs) and Variants of Concern (VOCs). Monitoring and research on these variants can be done globally.

We did not find any reports from the World Economic Forum that mentions a list of variants of coronavirus.

We compared the viral list with the list published by WHO and we found it to be completely different.

The viral list mentions that the Delta variant will be released in June 2021. However, WHO mentioned that the first case of the Delta variant was detected in India in October 2020.

Similarly, the list says that the Lambda variant will be released in January 2022. However, WHO mentions that the first case of the Lambda variant was reported in Peru in December 2020 and was characterized as VOI on June 14, 2021.

We also found that the other variants of coronavirus Alpha, Beta and Gamma were not on the list. The earliest documented samples of which were September 2020 (in the United Kingdom), May 2020 (in South Africa), and November 2020 (in Brazil) respectively. The dates of designation of these viruses as Virus of Concern are Alpha: December 18, 2020, Beta: December 18, 2020, and Gamma: January 11, 2021.

Hence, it is evident that the claim is false.

Claim Review:Social media users post purportedly shows a list of coronavirus variants and date of release.
Claimed By:Social Media Users
Claim Reviewed By:Newsmeter
Claim Source:Social Media
Claim Fact Check:False
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