By: Ankita Kulkarni
June 2 2023
Bird flu virus H5N1 was first detected in 1997. Claims that its new strain was deliberately released in 2021 to control humans are conspiratorial.
A video circulating on Facebook claims that the current outbreak of Avian influenza (bird flu), spread by the H5N1 virus, is going to be the next pandemic. A man in the video claims that "the lethal version of the virus has already been intentionally released into the wild as a test. The next step will be to spread it to human beings, and the goal is to create another pandemic." He also states that the motive behind this is to execute "global economic collapse, banks collapsing internationally, and thus bring in digital currency for more power and control over the masses."
On Facebook, the video has garnered around 630 shares and has also been shared on Tik Tok and Twitter. The person speaking in the video is Jason Shurka, a YouTuber who claims to be a “spiritual speaker”, and regularly posts misinformed videos on different conspiracy theories.
The H5N1 virus was first detected in 1997 in Southern China, according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Since then, the virus has emerged with various strains over the years. The recent outbreak of the avian flu that happened in 2021 in the U.K. and 2022 in the U.S. is from a new lineage of the virus A (H5N1). The virus causes high mortality and severe clinical signs in domesticated poultry.
A report by DW News notes that for bird flu to be a pandemic, the virus should efficiently spread from human to human. The World Health Organization (WHO) data states that since 2003, globally, H5N1 avian flu has infected 873 humans, of whom 458 have died. However, these cases occurred when humans came into close contact with infected birds, and no human-to-human transmission was observed. The WHO notes that the risk to the general population posed by this virus is currently low.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture adds that the H5N1 virus has also been detected in certain species of mammals, such as minks. The DW report further quotes the head of the high-threat pathogen team at WHO, Richard Pebody, who stated that "virus spreading between the minks would present a red flag that the virus is changing in ways which are more concerning. Humans are mammals as well. So, if the virus is showing some suggestion of mammalian adaptation that's just one step closer to it having biological characteristics which make it more attractive to spread in the human population." However, the WHO adds that the organization and other experts are closely monitoring the virus's mutation to see if it can spread among humans. But currently, the risk to humans is low.
Furthermore, this claim that the virus is being intentionally released is a part of the New World Order (NWO) conspiracy theory, which purports that the "elites" are planning to drag humans into totalitarian dystopia. CBS News also debunked this theory that alleged that the bird flu is a hoax that aims to reduce the supply of birds, increase food prices, and wreck the global economy to gain control. The implementation of digital currencies is also linked to the theory, which is also false. Logically Facts has also regularly debunked such narratives.
The claim stems from a conspiracy theory, and there is no evidence that bird flu has been intentionally released to control the human population. Therefore, we have marked the claim false.