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False allegations and conspiracy theories about Omicron appear online along with a new version

Scientists at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) have become the first in Asia to succeed in isolating the new Omicron

False allegations and conspiracy theories about a new version of Covid-19 Omicron have surfaced online after South Africa announced a version of the World Health Organization (WHO) on 24 November. WHO said variant had a large number of mutations and may pose an increased risk of re-infection, but studies of its transmissibility, severity of infection (including symptoms), efficacy of vaccines and diagnostic tests and efficacy of treatment are ongoing still ongoing.

Conservative influential figures are spreading claims that this option is part of a government plan to oppress unvaccinated people.

On a live Facebook broadcast on Nov. 30, conservative radio host Ben Ferguson argued that the government was using the Omicron option to “praise fear” and perpetuate “covid racism,” dividing society into those who are vaccinated and those who no. Ferguson also claimed in a video that had been circulated more than 600 times and garnered more than 26,000 views as of Dec. 3, that the government insisted that people do booster vaccinations through alleged instillation of fear.

Other conservative influential figures, including Ben Shapiro, Chuck Colesta, Kim Iversen and Candice Owens, said the Omicron option is being used to forcibly close and intimidate people into vaccinations. One Owens publication, which hints that Covid-19 is being used to “introduce a totalitarian new world order,” has been circulated more than 44,000 times on Facebook; the original tweet garnered more than 19,000 retweets.

One of the popular false stories of ivermectin proponents was that the Omicron variant was invented or deliberately released by proponents of the Covid-19 vaccine in Africa. According to this conspiracy theory, until last week the African continent was successful in fighting the pandemic due to the widespread use of the “miracle drug” ivermectin, despite the low amount of vaccination. According to the Office of Food and Drug AdministrationCurrently available data suggest that ivermectin is not effective in the treatment of Covid-19.

Perhaps one of the most striking examples comes from the representative of Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA), who often promoted QAnon and other conspiracy theories. In a series of tweets on November 27, she expanded on this conspiracy theory, falsely claiming that “many clinical studies have proven that ivermectin is a very effective safe and cheap remedy against #Covid.” These tweets have been circulated thousands of times.

There are also a number of rumors in Australia. Public posts on Facebook that mention Omicron with the most interactions from November 22 to 29, from MP George Christensen, far-right figure Lauren Southern and anti-lock activist Tofer Field. Each of these messages received thousands of interactions in 24 hours.

One of the most popular false claims is that Omicron is “ahead of schedule,” citing a chart allegedly from the WHO, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Johns Hopkins University with a predetermined “plan” release options. Spokesmen for the WHO, WEF and Jones Hopkins told First Draft in electronic statements that they were not related to the image. The schedule has been circulating online at least since July and has also been debunked Reuters fact check, Sheaves and India today.

Other false allegations among Facebook posts include the name of the option “planted” and accusations of this option being vaccinated people. One statement also falsely stated that vaccines weaken people’s immunity. Similarly, the Telegram group with more than a million participants in one report falsely claimed that the Covid-19 vaccine caused Omicron.

The well-known conspiracy theory links the emergence of a new version with the trial of Gislen Maxwell on the sex trade, which began in the United States on November 29. For example, one commentary on Topher Field’s post has a screenshot of a message from conservative U.S. influential figure Rogan O’Handley, or DC Draino, which partly reads: “If you think the hysteria at Omicron that arose 2 days before the trial over Gislen Maxwell, it’s just a “coincidence”, then you don’t know who she traded underage girls to. ” Similar comments can also be found in George Christensen’s letter and in the Telegram, which also link Omicron to QAnon’s conspiracy theory about the “tyrannical pedophile government CV19.”

Another conspiracy theory states that the letters “o,” “m,” and “i” in Omicron mean “occlusion” and “myocardial infarction,” linking the new variant without evidence to rare side effects such as rare blood clotting disorders. and myocarditis, which some Covid-19 vaccines have caused in a small number of people.

Our study found a marked inaccuracy in data on Omicron, even if evaluation is required. The data gap needs to be filled with accurate information from reliable sources and contributed accurate, accurate reporting as soon as possible to stop the spread of baseless or false information about the option and the pandemic. – Esther Chan, Kaileen Dodson, Keenan Chen

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