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Right-wing figures fearmonger and push conspiracy theories about “Disease X,” a hypothetical pathogen

Some right-wing figures are trying to profit on the fear by promoting “medical emergency kits” that include ivermectin

Following news that a session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting would be focused on the World Health Organization’s preparations for a potential epidemic of a currently unknown pathogen dubbed “Disease X,” right-wing media figures pushed conspiracy theories about a supposed plan to kill off “excess population” and fearmongered over the possibility of another pandemic and lockdowns. Some sought to capitalize on the fear by selling “medical emergency kits” that contain an unproven COVID-19 treatment.

  • For years, the WHO has been preparing for so-called “Disease X” — a potential undetermined pathogen that could cause a future epidemic

    • At the World Economic Forum’s January 2024 annual meeting at Davos, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus spoke about the need to prepare for an “unknown Disease X.” In the lead-up to the event, Ghebreyesus and the WHO claimed that Disease X could potentially result in “20 times more fatalities” than COVID-19. [World Economic Forum, accessed 1/17/24]
    • Disease X is a placeholder name for a currently unknown pathogen that the WHO uses for hypothetical epidemic prevention planning. The WHO adopted the moniker “Disease X” in 2018. It stems from a series of epidemic prevention plans that began in 2015 in response to the 2014 Ebola crisis. [WHO, accessed 3/1/20; The Economist, 3/23/18]
  • Right-wing figures and social media users have fearmongered and spread conspiracy theories about Disease X

    • On his Infowars show, Alex Jones claimed that Disease X was a “virus scare power grab” by entities that he claimed “want control of our bodies.” In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Jones suggested there is a “Globalist Plan to Launch #DiseaseX to Install World Government.” [Twitter/X, 1/17/24; Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 1/17/24]
    • On Newsmax, disgraced Conservative Political Action Conference chair Matt Schlapp speculated that Disease X was a scheme to kill off “excess population” because they “want less people.” Schlapp stated: “I think they must know something, and I’m not going to discount the fact that probably Disease X is a thing and could happen, and some people — as evil and dastardly as it sounds — thinks killing millions of people actually could be good for the rest of us who survive.” Additionally, host Chris Plante said that at the meeting, “globalists at Davos ... might not be preparing for imaginary situations, but rather assembling their next global power grab.” [Newsmax, Chris Plante The Right Squad, 1/17/23; CNN, 12/16/23]
    • Conspiracy theorist Russell Brand posted an episode of his Stay Free livestream titled “‘Disease X Is Imminent!!’ The Next Pandemic Is Here?!” In the episode, Brand claimed that a supposed vaccine for Disease X was being developed “using technology that potentially caused the last pandemic, in a facility that also produces bioweapons.” [Rumble, Stay Free, 1/15/24]
    • Conservative podcast host Graham Allen, whose show Dear America is exclusively on Rumble, suggested in a livestream that Disease X is a plan “to stop a Trump presidency and/or possibly take over the world.” Later in his stream, Allen’s co-host highlighted a user comment reading “COVID was a test run” for Disease X, and Allen agreed. [Rumble, Graham Allen’s Dear America, 1/17/24, 1/17/24, accessed 1/10/24]
    • Users in private right-wing Facebook groups spread conspiracy theories about Disease X, sharing right-wing media coverage and claiming that “genocidal depopulation” and “lockdowns” are coming. Users shared right-wing articles and videos — including from The Gateway Pundit, Russell Brand, and Rumble videos — stoking fears about Disease X in groups with tens of thousands of members. [Facebook, accessed 1/18/24]
    • Conspiracy theories about Disease X and imminent lockdowns also spread on far-right platforms such as Truth Social, Telegram, and 4chan. Conspiracy theorists and QAnon figures fearmongered that “Preparing for Disease X” was a top priority of the meeting in Davos, with QAnon influencer Jordan Sather writing on Truth Social, “TRY ANOTHER SCAMDEMIC YOU GLOBALIST SCUM.” On 4chan, users claimed that “Disease X is officially spreading, lockdowns incoming” and that “this time … restrictions will never be lifted.” On Telegram, anti-vaccine figure Sherri Tenpenny suggested that a vaccine for Disease X is under development. [Truth Social, 1/11/24; 4chan, 1/16/24, 1/16/24; Telegram, 1/15/24; PolitiFact, accessed 1/18/24]
  • Right-wing figures are using fear of Disease X to sell “medical emergency kits”

    • Dr. Peter McCullough, who has spread conspiracy theories about COVID-19, used Disease X to promote an “emergency kit” that sells for $300 and includes ivermectin, which is an unproven COVID-19 treatment. McCullough is the “chief science officer” for The Wellness Company, a right-wing media-associated company that sells supplements. Discussing Disease X during a media appearance, McCullough said, “Wellness Company’s got a wonderful kit at home you can have.” [Twitter/X, 1/17/24; The Daily Beast, 12/1/23; The Wellness Company, accessed 1/18/24; NIH, accessed 1/18/24]
    • The Gateway Pundit used Disease X to promote The Wellness Company’s “medical emergency kits.” In a “sponsored message” titled “‘DISEASE X’ — Are The Globalists Planning Another Pandemic?” The Gateway Pundit urged readers, “Don’t be caught unprepared for whatever the WEF has in mind” and “Don’t regret not acting today” in purchasing The Wellness Company’s emergency kits. The post stated, “The Wellness Company and their doctors are medical professionals that you can trust and their new medical emergency kits are the gold standard when it comes to keeping you safe and healthy.” The article also noted that Gateway Pundit would benefit from the sale of emergency kits. [The Gateway Pundit, accessed 1/17/24]
    • The Wellness Company also sponsored an article in Breitbart, which encouraged readers to start “stocking up” on medications included in the “medical emergency kits.” The article urges readers to “protect you and your family from drug shortages, ‘Disease X,’ or whatever comes your way,” and it quotes anti-vaccine figure Dr. James Thorp, who claims that the WEF is “threatening us that there’s another pandemic coming.” [Breitbart, accessed 1/18/24; Real Clear Politics, 2/24/23]
    • The Telegram channel for Steve Bannon’s War Room promoted a Gateway Pundit article that included promotion of The Wellness Company’s emergency kits. The post urges readers: “Before The Next Crisis Hits – Prepare With A Medical Emergency Kit (Includes Ivermectin and Z-Pak).” [Telegram, 1/12/24; The Gateway Pundit, 1/12/24]