COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not snake venom

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By Saranac Hale Spencer

SciCheck Compendium

The COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a new coronavirus, first isolated in January 2020. But a video that has gone viral has spread a conspiracy theory that the pandemic is actually a plot to poison people with poison. of snake

How is COVID-19 spread?


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A video drawing on several of the major COVID-19 conspiracy theories, and tying them together with a new plot, has garnered millions of views on Rumble, a social media platform popular with conservative groups.

The video, billed as a “documentary,” consists of a nearly hour-long interview with Bryan Ardis, a retired chiropractor who sells purported acne treatments online and now sells a line of supplements called “Anti-V.” , perhaps a reference to antivenom, although their website doesn’t explain it. This is not the first time we write about him.

The video is peppered with screenshots of scientific studies and newspaper articles that Ardis cites to lend credence to his false claims. But none of them actually provide any evidence to substantiate his conspiracy theory.

Ardis, for example, recites some of the claims it has previously made about remdesivir, falsely claiming that it is a “deadly toxic drug” used to intentionally kill people. As if to prove the point, the video misleadingly shows a chart from a study in which 53% of patients treated with remdesivir died. But that comes from a trial of Ebola virus patients and does not show that those patients died from the drug.

In fact, contrary to their claims that studies show remdesivir is dangerous, studies have found that serious side effects are not more common in COVID-19 patients treated with the drug compared to those who have not received it. the medicine. No drug is 100% safe, but there is no proof that remdesivir is being used by doctors across the country to kill patients.

Using these types of maneuvers, Ardis presents a broad conspiracy theory, suggesting that the pandemic is actually a plot by the Catholic Church and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to poison people. with snake venom.

“I am convinced that COVID-19 is not a respiratory virus of any kind,” he says. “It’s actually venom poisoning, and they’re using, I think, synthesized snake venom peptides and proteins and they’re administering it and targeting certain people.”

But as we have explained before, on January 7, 2020, scientists in China first isolated the virus that causes COVID-19. CDC scientists in the United States isolated the virus later that month from a patient who was diagnosed with the disease in Washington state. And scientists from other countries have also isolated the virus. The World Health Organization announced the official name of the virus, SARS-CoV-2 (or SARS-CoV-2, in Spanish), on February 11, 2020.

Therefore, it has been clear for quite some time that COVID-19 is caused by a virus. (And snake venom doesn’t contain viruses. It’s a secretion that contains toxins.)

In addition, several pharmaceutical companies have raced to develop vaccines that effectively prevent severe illness from the virus.

However, Ardis called vaccines into question by alluding to a conspiracy theory that vaccines make people magnetic. We disproved that theory when it became popular, when vaccines began to be administered in the US during the spring of 2021.

But the lynchpin of his entire preposterous theory is a 2017 episode of a TV drama called “The Blacklist.”

After laying the groundwork for about half an hour, the video cuts to a clip from an episode of NBC’s “The Blacklist,” in which the main character is poisoned with a concoction of snake venom.

“When I saw this, I knew it,” Ardis says of the series, which originally aired in 2017, nearly three years before the COVID-19 outbreak, and is now available on Netflix. “I knew he was right, I knew I had to see this because it was confirmation to me that other people knew this was planned for a long time, that we knew it was a plan.”

One of the most widely used conspiracy theories that Ardis uses here claims that the pandemic was planned in advance by nefarious actors. One of the more viral versions of this theory was featured in a couple of 2020 videos called “Plandemic,” which we wrote about when they appeared.

Ardis goes on to explain that when he saw the main character being poisoned with a concoction, “I realized something. I realized how they have been propagating this.” (Read our article “How Does COVID-19 Spread?” for the facts about the spread of the disease.)

The video then shows a hand putting a rapid COVID-19 test under tap water. With ominous music playing in the background, a text that reads “LOOK AT THE WATER” appears on the screen.

The name of the video is also “Look at the water”, which is apparently a reference to another conspiracy theory, QAnon, which flourished during the pandemic.

That phrase was used in a February 2018 post by “Q,” the pseudonym used by the person or persons posting cryptic messages on internet forums that are based on the QAnon conspiracy theory. That phrase has been used to support a number of false claims for years, including that the 2020 ballot papers had secret watermarks and that “Q” had predicted a bottleneck of container ships in the Suez Canal in 2021.

Here the phrase is used to bolster Ardis’s theory that public drinking water is being poisoned with snake venom.

“They’re using krait venom and cobra venom, calling it COVID-19, he’s taking it, it’s getting into his brainstem and it’s crippling his diaphragm’s ability to breathe,” says Ardis.

He then explains that “the CDC is in on this” and suggests that the plot may have ultimately come from “the Catholic Church or whoever.”

While explaining that he thinks the CDC is involved because they monitor sewage in some towns, Ardis says, it’s “just like in the Blacklist series.”

But is not.

That series was not meant to suggest that there was a plot to poison sections of the population with snake venom under the guise of a viral pandemic, Blacklist creator Jon Bokenkamp told us in a phone interview.

That episode wasn’t written to predict a pandemic, either, he told us. Instead, it was intended to show an unconventional criminal using an unusual method to poison someone, for entertainment.

Snake venom “was a great way to have an exaggerated but slightly grounded version of the bad guy,” Bokenkamp said. “It was a story.”

He pointed out that the series is in its ninth season and that, like any long-running series, it has sometimes coincidentally reflected things that later happen, such as a 2015 episode called “The Troll Farmer,” in which a disinformation campaign manipulates real world events.

Therefore, there is no reason to believe that this fictional series has somehow revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic is actually a plot to poison people with snake venom.

The underlying notion that COVID-19 is caused by snake venom is simply false. Scientists around the world have been studying SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, for more than two years, and there is no doubt that the disease is caused by a virus.

Translated by Catalina Jaramillo.

Editor’s Note: The SciCheck Vaccination/COVID-19 Project is made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation has no control about editorial decisions FactCheck.org, and the views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation. The goal of the project is to increase access to accurate information about COVID-19 and vaccines, and reduce the impact of misinformation.

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