Profiting from Pandemic Fears: US Theorists and ‘Disease X’ Misinformation

The InfoWars website’s founder, Alex Jones, who has accumulated wealth through spreading conspiracy theories, recently claimed on social platforms that a globalist agenda is plotting to use “Disease X” as a means for mass genocide. “Disease X,” a term created by the World Health Organization to describe a potential future pandemic, has become the subject of widespread misinformation in the United States, propagated by conspiracy theorists for profit.

These baseless claims, suggesting that the hypothetical pathogen is part of an elite scheme to reduce the global population, have not only gained traction in the United States but have also spread to Asia, appearing in various regional languages. This rapid dissemination of falsehoods highlights the dangers posed by the lack of content moderation on social media platforms, potentially increasing vaccine hesitancy and undermining public health preparedness years after COVID-19’s emergence.

In the US, certain right-wing influencers are exploiting these unfounded fears about Disease X by selling medical kits featuring dubious COVID-19 treatments. Timothy Caulfield, a health law and science policy expert from the University of Alberta, noted that these purveyors of misinformation rely on such conspiracy theories as a significant source of revenue, peddling products under the guise of preparing for Disease X.


The conspiracy theories gained momentum following a World Economic Forum panel titled “Preparing for Disease X,” aimed at discussing readiness for future pandemics. Following this, misinformation spread rapidly, including false claims about the Chinese government deploying mobile cremation ovens in anticipation of mass casualties from Disease X. However, investigations revealed that these claims were based on videos of pet cremation services.

Further, claims circulated in Malaysia about compulsory vaccinations for a non-existent Disease X vaccine were debunked. Prominent figures like US cardiologist Peter McCullough have also contributed to the spread of misinformation by alleging, without proof, that Disease X would be bioengineered. Websites like The Wellness Company, where McCullough is the chief scientific officer, have been promoting “medical emergency kits” containing unverified COVID-19 treatments such as ivermectin, exploiting public fear for profit.

Right-wing platforms have been seen marketing these kits, leveraging the Disease X conspiracy to encourage purchases under the pretense of pandemic preparedness. This practice of profiting from conspiracy theories and misinformation is a well-known strategy among certain groups, aiming to exploit their audience for financial gain.

The spread of this misinformation has been largely unchecked, especially as platforms reduce their content moderation efforts. This trend is concerning, as it builds on the vaccine hesitancy exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with potential long-term impacts on public health. Experts warn that belief in such conspiracies could deter individuals from accepting vaccines during actual health crises, opting instead for ineffective or harmful alternatives. This situation underscores the challenge misinformation poses to public health efforts and the importance of proactive measures to combat emerging diseases.

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Staff Report

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