State-owned Russian and Chinese media sites are pushing conspiracy theories about the coronavirus originating with the U.S. military or various American billionaires.
The Zvezda website claimed earlier this month that COVID-19 “affects only members of the Mongol race,” and blamed the outbreak on George Soros or Bill Gates in an effort to turn worldwide sentiment against China, reported The Daily Beast.
Similar claims are floating up from the usual suspects in the conspiracy world, but Zvezda is under the ownership of the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The website also casts suspicion on Gates, whose charitable foundation took part in a simulated response to a hypothetical outbreak of coronavirus — which had existed in various widely known forms before COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan in late December.
“When the exercises were conducted, the coronavirus did not exist. Either it must be Nostradamus, or the person who created it,” the website claimed. “Therefore, these exercises are no longer even indirectly, but directly confirm Gates’s involvement in this story.”
The article also speculated that U.S. pharmaceutical companies — and even the media — caused the outbreak to profit off annual treatments.
China has pushed similar claims blaming the U.S. for the outbreak, which has infuriated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
A little-noticed petition on the White House website demanded an explanation for the outbreak citing a series of unconnected events to speculate the virus leaked from Fort Detrick, Maryland.
That petition gained Western media attention after Huanqiu, a state-run media outlet, wrote about its claims a day after it was posted on the White House website and then published a follow-up on its English-language site, which has then circulated on Facebook in the U.S.
The Fort Detrick claims were also amplified by a Chinese diplomat, as well as anti-vaccine accounts and fan pages for Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese leader Xi Jingping.
Similar claims, based on a now-deleted YouTube video posted by a notorious conspiracy theory account, were then promoted by a Pakistani government official, and a Filipino lawmaker played the video in a legislative hearing before it was removed.