By: Pallavi Sethi
July 19 2023
Such claims lack evidence and are part of antisemitic COVID conspiracies.
On July 13, during a press event in New York, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claimed that "Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese" were "most immune" to COVID-19 and that the respiratory disease was "targeted to attack Caucasians and Black individuals." Kennedy, a vocal vaccine skeptic, also stated that the Americans and Chinese were developing "ethnic bioweapons." Since Kennedy's remarks, many known misinformation purveyors have echoed his views.
However, Kennedy's claims that COVID-19 is intentionally engineered to target specific races are unfounded.
While the scientific and intelligence communities have proposed different hypotheses about the virus' origins, such as accidental lab leaks or zoonotic transmission, the notion that COVID-19 is a deliberate bioweapon lacks evidence.
Data indicates that COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on ethnic minorities. However, it is essential to note that this disparity does not result from the virus being genetically engineered. Instead, it is attributed to socioeconomic and environmental factors. External factors, such as socioeconomic status, age, and pre-existing health conditions, can disproportionately affect different population segments.
A study by Lancet Public Health that examined the correlation between deprivation and COVID-19 mortality rates on a global scale discovered "extensive evidence" indicating that areas with high socioeconomic deprivation had elevated mortality rates.
The study assessed deprivation by considering poverty, access to healthcare, income, and housing conditions, among other factors. For example, individuals residing in more deprived areas often face challenges related to living in overcrowded housing, making it difficult to practice self-isolation. Furthermore, these areas are often home to individuals with jobs that cannot be performed remotely. As a result, many people in these areas did not experience the same benefits from lockdown restrictions as those residing in affluent neighborhoods who could work from home.
The claim promotes antisemitic conspiracies that surfaced during and after the pandemic. The Community Security Trust, a British charity fighting antisemitism, published a report in July 2022 highlighting the "full extent of antisemitism within the Covid conspiracy movement." The paper found 118 "antisemitic hate incidents in 2020 and 2021."
Kennedy's claim about the U.S. funding "bioweapons" is a widely known conspiracy theory. Pro-Kremlin disinformation has claimed that the U.S. funds biological facilities in former Soviet nations, such as Ukraine, Georgia, and Kazakhstan. Logically Facts has previously debunked unfounded theories that falsely portray facilities engaged in routine disease monitoring, which involves working with pathogens, a threat. As part of the 1991 Threat Reduction Program, the United States funded laboratories in various nations, including Ukraine. However, the program aimed not to develop biological weapons, but to dismantle weapons of mass destruction.
Kennedy has repeatedly spread harmful misinformation. Rolling Stone reported that the Democratic presidential candidate has previously claimed that vaccine research led to HIV, Lyme Disease, and Spanish flu.
There is no evidence that COVID-19 is an ethnically targeted bioweapon. Kennedy's claims are antisemitic and unfounded.