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False Ukraine-bioweapons claims from Russia and China echoes their COVID-19 disinformation
Part 3: Bioweapon conspiracy theories about Ukraine are reminiscent of the claims promoted, especially by Russia and China, in 2020 and 2021.
Bioweapon conspiracy theories about Ukraine are reminiscent of the claims promoted, especially by Russia and China, in 2020 and 2021. Iran was a distant third-biggest contributor or amplifier of disinformation. Hoaxlines found it had posted about the US-made bioweapons claim twice.
The battle to define the origin of COVID-19 led to a “narrative arms race” that experts now say affected the domestic response to the coronavirus.
As became clear in the report’s analysis, these competing narratives resulted in an escalatory series of finger pointing, with countries blaming one another as the source of the virus, including accusations it was developed in a lab and spread intentionally.
While these narratives lacked any evidence, they took on a life of their own, becoming part of the global informational chaos surrounding the pandemic – what the World Health Organization has termed an infodemic.
In the case of the COVID origins disinformation campaigns, China was the most prolific with 452 tweets from China, 15 from Russia, and 2 from Iran containing “Fort Detrick.”
As Fort Detrick was the location specified in the conspiracy theory about American bioweapons, Hoaxlines selected “Fort Detrick” as the keyword to identify related state-sponsored messaging. More examples of similar false or misleading claims posted from 2020 to 2021 by Russian and Chinese state-affiliated accounts or outlets have been included at the end of the report.