Plandemic is a new movie scheduled for release in summer 2020 that makes incendiary charges against Dr. Anthony Fauci and the U.S. government’s strategy for COVID-19. Although it hasn’t been released in full yet, a more than 25-minute vignette featuring a controversial scientist — Dr. Judy Mikovits — is making the rounds on social media.
In it, Mikovits, interviewed by filmmaker Mikki Willis, lodges a number of charges about Fauci, the government and her treatment in the scientific community. The general premise of the first video is that vaccines are dangerous and the government’s efforts on COVID-19 (and other infections) are driven by greed and are harmful to society. The movie and Mikovits claim this alleged sham dates back to the government’s response to HIV/AIDS in the 1980s.
The career of Mikovits, who has a new book out, crumbled in 2011, when a research study she was involved in was retracted and she was fired by the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, Nevada. She was then arrested, which she discusses in the May 2020 video.
However, what’s true? What’s false? In many cases, Heavy found the film omits key information or makes questionable or incomplete claims. Heavy reached out to Mikovits and Willis for interviews to no avail.
Heavy also reached out to Fauci for response to the video through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he is director. Amanda Fine, chief of the news media branch for the National Institutes of Health, responded with this statement: “The National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are focused on critical research aimed at ending the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing further deaths. We are not engaging in tactics by some seeking to derail our efforts.”
You can watch the Plandemic promotional video here.
The promotional material for Plandemic claims:
Humanity is imprisoned by a killer pandemic. People are being arrested for surfing in the ocean and meditating in nature. Nations are collapsing. Hungry citizens are rioting for food. The media has generated so much confusion and fear that people are begging for salvation in a syringe. Billionaire patent owners are pushing for globally mandated vaccines. Anyone who refuses to be injected with experimental poisons will be prohibited from travel, education and work. No, this is not a synopsis for a new horror movie. This is our current reality.
Here’s a round-up checking some of the information in the first Plandemic promotional video that was released in early May 2020. First, we will provide the claim, and then explore the reality behind each:
Claim: Vaccines Will Kill Millions & Mass Vaccination Is Dangerous
The May 2020 promotional video sets up the premise that vaccines and mass vaccination are dangerous and, as Mikovits claims, vaccines will “kill millions.”
Are vaccines dangerous? Do they contain hidden retroviruses? Have they caused the deaths of millions of people? Heavy interviewed Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, about those questions. He’s a medical doctor with expertise in immunology and has conducted research on vaccines and immunity.
According to Offit, vaccines are “not killing millions of people around the world.” He said that, like “any product that has a positive effect, they can have a negative effect. Vaccines aren’t risk-free. In order to recommend a vaccine to someone, the benefits have to clearly outweigh the side effects.”
He said a “severe allergic reaction” can be a side effect of some vaccines but “other ones are astonishingly rare.”
With past vaccines, the benefits to society outweighed the problems, he said. For example, the oral polio vaccine “could itself cause polio.” However, this effect was seen in about eight to 10 children per year (that figure is also reported here by the CDC). In contrast, before the vaccine, thousands of children got polio. NPR reports that “nearly 60,000 children were infected with the virus; thousands were paralyzed, and more than 3,000 died” in 1952 alone. The vaccine allowed the U.S. to eradicate polio.
Similarly, he said the influenza vaccine can cause a syndrome called Guillain-Barré syndrome. However, this side effect is seen in about one person per million who get the vaccine. In contrast, the syndrome is also caused by the natural influenza virus 17 times more often than by the vaccine, he said.
Thus, said Offit, “obviously on balance, the vaccine is infinitely better for you than not getting the vaccine.”
He said measles vaccines don’t cause serious reactions. The side effects, if they occur, tend to be a low-grade fever and mild rash. Offit added that there is “abundant scientific evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism.”
As for COVID-19, he thinks society will eventually “make a vaccine … we don’t know how to make the vaccine yet.” But he said more than 70 companies across the globe are trying.
Offit believes the term “mass vaccinations” is seen as a pejorative by some and prefers the concept of “population immunity.” He says vaccinations have “caused us to live 30 years longer” and that “vaccines are a victim of their own success” because people falsely claim “they’re killing us and actually get people to believe that.”
He said he believes the only way to stop COVID-19 will be a vaccine. Not everyone will be able to be vaccinated (for example, cancer patients). Thus, he said, those people are “depending on the herd around them to protect them” — the concept of herd immunity, “when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease,” which “provides indirect protection … to those who are not immune,” according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He believes that “natural infection” isn’t going to stop the spread of COVID-19 anymore than it has eradicated the four common human coronaviruses circulating already in society.
In the May video, Willis asks Mikovits why Italy was “hit so hard” by COVID-19. She blames that on Italy’s older population, inflammatory disorder rates and vaccines she said “were grown in a dog cell line. Dogs have lots of coronavirus.”
Offit said scientific research doesn’t bear out the contention that COVID-19 came from flu vaccines involving canine kidney cells. That’s because, although dogs can get coronavirus, he said the specific cells used to make vaccines don’t contain coronavirus.
LiveScience lists a number of reasons for Italy’s high death toll: An aging population, an overwhelmed medical system and lack of universal testing.
In the Plandemic video, Mikovits criticizes the concept of mass vaccines. “They will kill millions, as they already have with their vaccines,” she says, stressing she is not anti-vaccine. She does not specify who “they” are. She claims there is a financial incentive in COVID-19 strategies to not use natural remedies in order to push people to use vaccines.
“How many new retroviruses have we created through all the mouse research, the vaccine research, gene therapy research?” she was quoted as saying in 2015. “More importantly, how many new diseases have we created? They’re experimenting with us now. I’m really worried about the population.”
What is a retrovirus? “Retroviruses are a type of virus in the viral family called Retroviridae. They use RNA as their genetic material,” Healthline explains, adding that retroviruses and viruses “replicate within a host cell” differently. HIV is a retrovirus but Offit noted that many are benign.
In another YouTube video, Mikovits, despite claiming not to be anti-vaccine, claimed about COVID-19: “We don’t need a vaccine. All you have to do is have a healthy immune system.” That video was also removed from YouTube because YouTube said it violated its community guidelines.
Claim: An Activist Named Larry Kramer Harshly Criticized Fauci for His Handling of HIV/AIDS
The video includes a news clip that purports that an AIDS activist named Larry Kramer was angry at the federal government’s handling of the HIV crisis and wrote an open letter to Fauci, condemning Fauci in harsh terms.
A March 2020 article in The New York Times calls Kramer “the AIDS activist who became that epidemic’s wrathful prophet.” It’s true that Kramer is critical of the government’s handling of HIV and COVID-19. He told the Times: “The government has been awful in both cases. They were terrible with AIDS and they’re terrible with this thing.”
The Times reports that Kramer was very critical of Fauci in the 1980s. He blamed Fauci for the government’s “slow response to AIDS” and called Fauci a murderer and “incompetent idiot,” the Times reports. The New Yorker quotes Kramer as saying of Fauci, “As far as I was concerned, he was the central focus of evil in the world.” He even compared Fauci at the time to Hitler’s henchman Adolf Eichmann. His open letter to Fauci read, “Anthony Fauci, you are a murderer. Your refusal to hear the screams of AIDS activists early in the crisis resulted in the deaths of thousands of Queers.”
What the Plandemic video leaves out? The Times says that Kramer and Fauci “developed a grudging friendship, and Dr. Fauci helped get Mr. Kramer into a lifesaving experimental drug trial after Mr. Kramer had a liver transplant.”
Kramer told the Times of Fauci: “We are friends again. I’m feeling sorry for how he’s being treated. I emailed him this, but his one line answer was, ‘Hunker down.’” In addition, the New Yorker notes that Fauci “did not control the drug-approval process” for HIV/AIDS but does note “he was seen as a barrier to opening access to clinical trials.”
Fauci did tell The New Yorker: “When we had clinical trials, we, the scientific community and the regulatory community, did not listen” to the activists. “It was, at the time, an attitude that many of us had, and I probably had it myself.” But the article says he reversed course over time, saying that he “transformed from a conventional bench scientist into a public-health activist who happened to work for the federal government.” The article, which you can read in full here, goes into great detail about efforts Fauci then took to listen to activists and help.
Fauci authored a detailed article on government actions relating to HIV. You can read it here.
Thus, the Plandemic video highlights the worst information regarding Fauci while omitting mitigating and contextual points.
Claim: Government Scientists, Including Fauci, Financially Benefit From Their Government Work
The video claims that government scientists are holding patents, providing them with a financial motive for lockdowns and vaccines. Mikovits urges the repeal of a law called the “Bayh-Dole Act.” She says “the act gave government workers the right to patent their discoveries. It destroyed science” and led to conflicts of interest.
An article in Bloomberg Law says the Bayh-Dole Act is a tool the government can use when a company has developed a vaccine but won’t or can’t produce it in the mass quantities needed to help the public in a pandemic:
Under the Bayh-Dole Act (enacted in 1980), when a company fails to produce a product that has been developed using federal funds, or if it cannot produce sufficient quantities to reasonably satisfy the ‘health and safety needs’ of the U.S., the government can exercise what are known as ‘march-in rights’ compelling the patent holder to grant a license under the patent(s) to others.
According to Justia.com, Fauci’s name does appear on a number of patents. You can see a listing of them here. A search for Anthony S. Fauci patents through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office comes up with seven entries. You can search here by typing in fauci-anthony-s in the query. Most are old. The most recent patent for Fauci that comes up is from 2018 and is for “Use of antagonists of the interaction between HIV GP120 and .alpha.4.beta.7 integrin.”
A 2005 article by Janice Hopkins Tanne in BMJ is built on an Associated Press article that did raise concerns about financial incentives by government employees:
Patients who took part in clinical trials at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) had no idea that scientists at the institutes received $8.9m … in royalty payments and might benefit financially for the use of their discoveries by pharmaceutical companies and device makers, reports from Associated Press allege.
The article further notes:
The press agency reported that two leading researchers, Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and his deputy, Clifford Lane, received payments relating to their development of interleukin 2 as a treatment for HIV/AIDS.
However, this article says that Fauci donated the money he received to charity:
Dr Anthony Fauci told the BMJ that as a government employee he was required by law to put his name on the patent for the development of interleukin 2 and was also required by law to receive part of the payment the government received for use of the patent. He said that he felt it was inappropiate to receive payment and donated the entire amount to charity.
A January 2020 article by FactCheck.org disputed social media claims that there was already a patent for COVID-19, writing, “That’s not true; the patents the posts refer to pertain to different viruses.”
Claim: The COVID-19 Virus Was Not ‘Naturally Occurring’ But Was ‘Manipulated’ & Entered the Population ‘By Way of the Laboratory’
In the May video, Willis asks Mikovits whether she thinks the COVID-19 virus was created in a lab.
“I wouldn’t use the word created, but you can’t say naturally occurring if it was by way of the laboratory,” she says. “So It’s very clear this virus was manipulated, this family of viruses was manipulated.” She claimed that “animals were taken into a laboratory and this was what was released whether deliberate or not. That cannot be naturally occurring. Someone didn’t go to a market, get a bat.”
Is that true? Was the COVID-19 virus manipulated and released from a lab? That’s far from clear. It hasn’t been proven.
On May 4, 2020, National Geographic published an interview with Fauci that was headlined “Fauci: No scientific evidence the coronavirus was made in a Chinese lab.”
He told the publication:
If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated. … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.
President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have raised questions about whether COVID-19 may have been created in or escaped from a Chinese lab. However, CNN reports that “Scientists have so far largely rejected theories that the novel coronavirus is man-made.” In February, public health experts wrote in the Lancet that “Scientists from multiple countries have published and analysed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens.”
A March 2020 journal article published by Nature Medicine found similarly that “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”
The movie omits evidence pointing away from Mikovits’ theory.
Claim: American Government Money Flowed to the Wuhan Lab in China
In the May video, Mikovits says millions of dollars flowed from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to the Wuhan lab in China and claims that Fauci’s agency, NIAID, was “already conducting experiments with the Wuhan lab in the past.”
An April 2018 article on NIAID’s own website reveals that “a newly identified coronavirus that killed nearly 25,000 piglets in 2016-17 in China emerged from horseshoe bats near the origin of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which emerged in 2002 in the same bat species. The new virus is named swine acute diarrhea syndrome coronavirus (SADS-CoV). It does not appear to infect people, unlike SARS-CoV which infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774.”
COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2 and is a new virus. It’s not SARS-CoV. According to Healthline, “the virus that causes SARS is known as SARS-CoV, while the virus that causes COVID-19 is known as SARS-CoV-2,” and they have differences in transmission, symptoms and other factors.
The NIAID article adds:
The study investigators identified SADS-CoV on four pig farms in China’s Guangdong Province. The work was a collaboration among scientists from EcoHealth Alliance, Duke-NUS Medical School, Wuhan Institute of Virology and other organizations, and was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The research is published in the journal Nature.
In April 2020, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz “called on Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar … to cease funding a research grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China,” according to Fox News, which quoted Gaetz as saying, “The NIH [National Institutes of Health] gives a $3.7 million grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology [and] they then advertise that they need coronavirus researchers and following that, coronavirus erupts in Wuhan.”
Lab accidents in the U.S. led to some of the funding.
Claim: COVID-19 Death Tolls Are Overstated
Mikovits claims in the video that the government is overstating COVID-19 death tolls by calling deaths “COVID-19-related” with “no evidence of infection” and no testing.
According to the Washington Post, researchers believe the number of COVID-19 deaths may actually be understated.
The Post reported that issues with reporting make it difficult to assess COVID-19 deaths. For example, the newspaper explained that state health departments “excluded deaths of people who probably died of covid-19, based on symptoms and exposure, but were never tested.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released detailed guidelines for reporting COVID-19 deaths, which you can find here. They say in part:
If COVID–19 played a role in the death, this condition should be specified on the death certificate. In many cases, it is likely that it will be the [underlying cause of death], as it can lead to various life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In these cases, COVID-19 should be reported on the lowest line used in Part I with the other conditions to which it gave rise listed on the lines above it.
Some of the criticism contends that people might have actually died from underlying ailments. You can find the CDC updated death toll here.
Politico reported that people who question death tolls are operating with a kernel of truth because “some authorities are including suspected, but not confirmed, coronavirus deaths in their initial totals. Health specialists say the approach is essential to ensure that the death toll is not significantly undercounted in the moment.” However, experts think, if anything, the death toll may be understated, the article notes.
Claim: The Government Is Withholding Hydroxychloroquine From Patients
Mikovits touts hydroxychloroquine in the video. She says “this is essential medicine and they keep it from the people.”
The public has been treated to conflicting information about this drug. On May 7, CNBC reported that hydroxychloroquine, “a decades-old malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump, didn’t appear to help hospitalized patients with Covid-19.” That was according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“We know now it probably doesn’t help much,” said Dr. Thomas McGinn, deputy physician-in-chief at Northwell Health, to Spectrum News, on May 7. “We’re not recommending it as a baseline therapy anymore. It is only in a treatment protocol in a study that we’re recommending it.”
According to Bloomberg, “the tide has now turned against hydroxychloroquine and its chemical cousin, chloroquine. Regulators and scientists have raised concerns about potentially serious side effects.”
Claim: Flu Vaccines Increase the Odds of Getting COVID-19 by 36%
In the video, Willis asks Mikovits for her source on the claim that having a flu vaccine increases a person’s odds of contracting COVID-19. She cites a research article by Greg C. Wolff, which then flashes on the screen. The January 2020 article is called “Influenza vaccination and respiratory virus interference among Department of Defense personnel during the 2017-2018 influenza season.”
However, this article deals with other respiratory ailments — not specifically COVID-19 — saying:
Receipt of influenza vaccination was not associated with virus interference among our population. Examining virus interference by specific respiratory viruses showed mixed results. Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus; however, significant protection with vaccination was associated not only with most influenza viruses, but also parainfluenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections.
Claim: Bill Gates Wants to Vaccinate the Global Population for Nefarious Reasons
The video includes a clip of Bill Gates talking about vaccinating the global population. Mikovits claims in the segment on Gates that “we let people like that have a voice in this country while we destroy the lives of millions of people.”
What are the facts about Gates and vaccinations?
Fast Company reported that Gates has issued many warnings about a possible pandemic over the past decade and donated $250 million to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2015, he gave a well-known TED talk in which he warned the world was not ready for the next pandemic and in which he spoke about Ebola. “If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,” he said in that talk (the video of which you can watch above). In an interview on April 16, Gates said he has focused on preparedness for a pandemic.
Gates has been the target of COVID-19 conspiracy theories on YouTube, including by a Florida preacher named Pastor Adam Fannin, whose YouTube video on Gates was viewed more than a million times. Gates has been targeted by anti-vaccination groups in particular. According to The New York Times, Zignal Labs found that false information about Gates and coronavirus was rampant online, including more than 16,000 Facebook posts and 10 videos on YouTube viewed about five million times.
The Times traced the first Bill Gates/COVID-19 conspiracy theory to January and his funding of a vaccine patent for a coronavirus, but it was one that affects poultry and wasn’t COVID-19, the newspaper reported. This theory involves The Pirbright Institute, which Gates’ foundation supports, but its work on coronaviruses didn’t involve those that affect humans, according to Politifact.
According to The New York Times, right-wing conspiracy theorists with groups like QAnon have accused Gates of planning “to use a pandemic to wrest control of the global health system.” The theories range from false accusations that he created COVID-19 to claims he would profit from a vaccine or wants to reduce or track the world’s population, The Times reports.
One longstanding conspiracy theory against Gates alleged he “openly admitted that vaccinations are designed so that governments can depopulate the world,” according to Snopes, which labeled the claim false back in 2017. Gates had said on CNN, “Over this decade, we believe unbelievable progress can be made, in both inventing new vaccines and making sure they get out to all the children who need them … We only need about six or seven more — and then you would have all the tools to reduce childhood death, reduce population growth, and everything — the stability, the environment — benefits from that.”
Snopes criticized a site called Your News Wire for alleging that Gates told people “how we must all consent to a ‘kill the humans’ strategy, to ‘save the planet’ from the carbon dioxide we make.” Rather, Snopes reported, Gates has long been an advocate of reducing infant mortality, believing that parents with living children will naturally have fewer of them because they won’t be afraid that the children will die.
Gates conspiracy theorists like Fannin have argued that Gates wants to implant “quantum dot tattoos” in people with COVID-19. Fast Company explains that this claim derives from a real scientific experiment. Scientific American reported that “a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers” had developed a method to embed a vaccination record “directly into the skin.” Children would be injected with dye as part of the vaccination process. The Scientific American article says the research “was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and came about because of a direct request from Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates himself, who has been supporting efforts to wipe out diseases such as polio and measles across the world.”
Who is behind some of the conspiracy theories relating to coronavirus in general? The Wall Street Journal reported that “the State Department has assessed that Russia, China and Iran are mounting increasingly intense and coordinated disinformation campaigns” against the United States relating to COVID-19.
In 2019, according to the Center for Health Security, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY. The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences.” This event has been used by some conspiracy theorists to allege that Gates predicted COVID-19 and millions of deaths.
Factcheck.org explained, though, that this exercise didn’t deal with COVID-19. “To be clear, the Center for Health Security and partners did not make a prediction during our tabletop exercise. For the scenario, we modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction,” the Center said in a statement to that site. It continued:
Instead, the exercise served to highlight preparedness and response challenges that would likely arise in a very severe pandemic. We are not now predicting that the nCoV-2019 outbreak will kill 65 million people. Although our tabletop exercise included a mock novel coronavirus, the inputs we used for modeling the potential impact of that fictional virus are not similar to nCoV-2019.
Although the exercise dealt with a fictional coronavirus starting in Brazil, Factcheck.org noted that there are many coronaviruses in the world, not just COVID-19.
Mark Suzman, chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told the New York Times that it was “distressing that there are people spreading misinformation when we should all be looking for ways to collaborate and save lives.”
Claim: Mikovits Was an Accomplished Scientist Who Did Work ‘Revolutionizing the Treatment of HIV/AIDS’
The video vignette claims that Mikovits has been called “one of the most accomplished scientists of her generation” and her 1991 doctoral thesis “revolutionized the treatment of HIV/AIDS.”
In the foreword to her new book, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calls Mikovits “among the most skilled scientists of her generation.” Kennedy wrote that she entered professional science “from the University of Virginia with a BA degree in chemistry on June 10, 1980, as a protein chemist for the National Cancer Institute working on a life-saving project to purify interferon.”
It’s true that Mikovits worked in the scientific community for years (mostly with the National Cancer Institute and also with the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, Nevada). It’s also true she did some work on HIV/AIDS earlier in her career. However, her later work involved chronic fatigue syndrome, not HIV.
The major breakthrough — HIV being identified as the cause of AIDS — is generally attributed to warring researchers: Robert Gallo in the U.S. and a team in France. The French team won the Nobel Prize. A search of decades worth of archives through Newspapers.com does not turn up stories about Mikovits and HIV research accomplishments in the 1980s. Most of the stories deal with her later discredited chronic fatigue syndrome study from 2009-2011.
Mikovits worked on HIV early on in her career, but it wasn’t the focus of the controversial research study that hit the headlines later on. Her work on HIV in the era in question was doctoral research that was done under the direction of another scientist, Frank Ruscetti.
An old government bio for her says Mikovits has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from George Washington University. It continues:
Her doctoral research focused on HIV-1 latency under the direction of Francis Ruscetti. Dr. Mikovits performed postdoctoral work on the molecular genetics of HTLV-1 under David Derse at the National Cancer Institute-FCRDC.
The mechanisms by which human retroviruses alter the function of the immune system and other host responses resulting in pathogenesis are not well understood. The current focus of our studies is to define viral and cellular factors involved in pathogenesis. Specifically, we have examined viral and cellular factors involved in regulating HIV infectivity and expression, cell death and mechanisms of immune dysfunction.
She co-authored a 1998 study on HIV here. Discover magazine reports that “[d]uring her final two years at the (NCI) agency, she had directed the Lab of Antiviral Drug Mechanisms, where she studied therapies for AIDS as well as one of its associated cancers, Kaposi’s sarcoma.”
However, the big breakthrough on AIDS came in 1983 in France, as the Nobel Prize fact sheet for French scientist Luc Montagnier shows.
Another old bio for Mikovits says she also served “as a senior scientist at Biosource International, where she led the development of proteomic assays for the Luminex platform that is used extensively for cytokine activity assessment in therapy development” and served as “Chief Scientific Officer and VP Drug Discovery at Epigenx Biosciences, where she lead the development and commercialization of DNA methylation inhibitors for cancer therapy and of cell and array-based methylation assays for drug discovery and diagnostic development.”
Claim: Mikovits Was Fauci’s ‘Ex-Employee’ & Fauci Intervened to Steal Credit for HIV Research for a Friend
Mikovits’ complaints about Fauci date back to the earliest days of HIV research and who got credit for the scientific breakthrough that isolated HIV as the cause of AIDS. However, a key claim she made is not backed up with proof.
Fauci is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has been a leading government figure in briefings about COVID-19 strategies, including lockdowns and other measures to “flatten the curve.” Heavy wrote to NIAID’s press office to give Fauci a chance to respond to Mikovits’ claims and will add his comment into this story if it’s received.
In the video, Mikovits claimed Fauci perpetrated propaganda that led to the deaths of millions of people in the past. One of her biggest beefs against Fauci dates to the battles for credit over the discovery of HIV in the early 1980s.
In the video, Mikovits claimed she isolated HIV from the saliva and blood of patients in France but that Fauci was involved in delaying research so a friend could take credit, which allowed the HIV virus to spread. These claims are not proven. They were also disseminated in April by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Kennedy alleged on the Children’s Health Defense website (where he is chairman):
Dr. Mikovits joined NIH in 1980 as a Postdoctoral Scholar in Molecular Virology at the National Cancer Institute and began a 20-year collaboration with Frank Ruscetti, a pioneer in the field of human retro virology. She helped Dr Russetti (sic) isolate the HIV virus and link it to #AIDS in 1983. Her NIH boss Anthony Fauci delayed publication of that critical paper for 6 months to let his protégé Robert Gallo replicate, publish and claim credit. The delay in mass HIV testing let AIDS further spread around the globe and helped Fauci win promotion to director NIAID.
On the Children’s Health Defense website, Mikovits is quoted as saying:
I took a job at the National Cancer Institute. I was under the direction of Frank Ruscetti. I isolated HIV from blood and saliva confirming Dr. Luc Montagnier’s earlier isolation and description of HIV as a possible causative agent of AIDS. … When Frank Ruscetti was out of town, I received a call from Dr. Fauci and he demanded that I give him our manuscript on the isolation and confirmation of HIV, while it was still in press. I refused to do that because it’s unethical. These manuscripts are confidential and only authors can give him a copy. … When Frank Ruscetti returned a few weeks later, he gave the manuscript to Dr. Fauci, and Dr. Fauci purposely delayed the publication of our manuscript in order that his crony, Dr. Robert Gallo, could copy our work and submit a competing manuscript and get it into press before ours.
The website claims: “This delayed the development of testing and spread the HIV epidemic through the world, killing millions.”
Mikovits makes similar claims in the Plandemic video, saying she was “part of team that isolated HIV from the saliva and blood from patients in France where Luc Montagnier had originally isolated the virus.” She says this was a “confirmatory study” and claims U.S. researcher Robert Gallo and Fauci were working together. She claims Fauci wanted a copy of the Ruscetti/Mikovits work and then held up the paper for several months so Gallo could write his own and take “all the credit.” She says this led to the deaths of millions.
However, the U.S. research was intended to confirm the breakthrough discovery already made by Montagnier, so the scientific community was t already aware of the findings.
Fauci was not Mikovits’ direct boss. NCI, where she worked, is part of the National Institutes of Health. NIH is “one of 11 agencies that make up the Department of Health and Human Services,” according to its website. Fauci works for an agency under the NIH umbrella, but he’s been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, which is not the same agency as NCI. Before that, Fauci was chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. According to The New Yorker, Fauci started “as a senior researcher at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases” in 1972.
Ruscetti features in this complex plot in several ways. Mikovits claims Ruscetti was robbed of credit for HIV breakthroughs, and they later banded together to research another retrovirus-related angle involving chronic fatigue syndrome. In both cases, Mikovits blames Fauci for things going wrong.
Kennedy wrote that Mikovits started a 20-year collaboration with Ruscetti, a “pioneer in the field of human retrovirology” who headed up Gallo’s lab in 1977. A summary of Gallo’s work says he worked with Ruscetti in the 1970s. Gallo started studying AIDS in 1982. In that year, he and M. Essex of Harvard’s School of Public Health “were the first to propose that AIDS was most likely caused by a new human retrovirus,” it says.
The summary details how Gallo worked with the French researchers, including Montagnier. It says that in fall 1983, “M. Popvic and Gallo made a significant breakthrough. They learned how to continuously grow HIV in permanent culture in immortalized T-cell lines.” The article doesn’t mention Ruscetti being involved in this and it doesn’t mention Mikovits or Fauci.
It does discuss patents and says the National Institutes of Health was involved in patenting an HIV-related blood test to “protect against fraudulent use of blood tests and to entice larger companies to come in and work on the problem by giving semi-exclusive rights.” Mikovits paints the patent process as entirely corrupt and motivated by greed.
The summary says Gallo published “close to 1,200 scientific papers” and was the most-cited scientist in the world from 1980 to 1990.
An article in Discover magazine says Ruscetti, “who had discovered HTLV-1 while working in Robert Gallo’s Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology at the NCI in 1980,” was also Mikovits’ “primary collaborator” on controversial research into chronic fatigue syndrome. HTLV was the first human retrovirus discovered, and its discovery helped form the underpinnings for later research into HIV, also a retrovirus.
A research article from 2009 describes the discovery of HIV as the cause of AIDS as “one of the major scientific achievements during the last century.” The article argues that “discovering HIV was dependent on the previous discovery of the first human retrovirus HTLV-I,” which was “first reported by Robert C. Gallo and coworkers in 1980.” The article credits Montagnier with some of the earliest findings about HIV but says “The proof that a new human retrovirus (HIV-1) was the cause of AIDS was first established in four publications by Gallo’s group in the May 4th issue of Science in 1984,” it says. The article argues that Gallo was denied the Nobel Prize, which reignited “false allegations in the media that Gallo and coworkers at NIH had rediscovered or even stolen the French HIV isolate previously sent to them from the Pasteur Institute.”
An article on the history of AIDS research in Science magazine explains, “France’s Pasteur Institute in Paris for Barré-Sinoussi and the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, for Gallo” were “on opposing sides of a historic who-did-what-when battle that began over the HIV blood test patent.” It doesn’t mention Mikovits or Ruscetti. The French won the Nobel Prize.
As AIDS emerged, Fauci was working as a senior investigator with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He assembled a group of scientists to study the disease. “Under Fauci’s leadership, NIAID became the single largest funder of HIV/AIDS research in the world. His own lab’s research also has helped clarify fundamental relationships between the virus and the immune system,” Science magazine reports.
Claim: Mikovitz Published a ‘Blockbuster Study’ on Chronic Diseases & Her Life Was Destroyed as a Result Through Arrest, Jail & Bankruptcy
The May Plandemic video claims Mikovits published a “blockbuster” study that found “the common use of animal and human fetal tissues were unleashing devastating plagues of chronic diseases.”
“The controversial article sent shockwaves through the scientific community,” the interview claims. “For exposing their deadly secrets, the minions of Big Pharma waged war on Dr. Mikovits, destroying her good name, career, and personal life.” Interviewer Willis claims Mikovits “made a discovery that conflicted with the agreed upon narrative and for that they did everything possible to destroy your life.”
She agrees with this statement and says: “For five years, if I went on social media, if I said anything at all, they would find new evidence and put me back in jail.” She said there was “no evidence” and the legal battles forced her into bankruptcy.
In fact, the study in question was retracted and discredited by the scientific community, a process that made national headlines. It’s true Mikovits’ personal life suffered (she declared bankruptcy, according to federal court records). However, that was also the result of an arrest (she was accused of taking laboratory notebooks) and termination (a news story at the time says this resulted from a power struggle and refusal to allow another researcher to study a cell line). Willis and Mikovits are general and refer vaguely to “they” and “minions.” They also imply that Fauci was behind all of this.
Rather, Mikovits’ arrest and termination came as a result of conflicts she had with a former employer, the nonprofit Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, Nevada. The organization is run by Harvey and Annette Whittemore. Mikovits was jailed, but it was only for several days, not years. The charges were dismissed, but an affidavit did provide some evidence.
Here are the facts:
In 2009, Mikovits was a co-author in a paper called Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. At first, it received great acclaim. Two years later, it was repudiated and retracted. This is when Mikovits’ career fell apart.
The Chicago Tribune reported in 2011 that the study, which was published in 2009, had consequences, writing, “The lead researcher, Judy Mikovits, began making sweeping unsupported statements about the finding, including tying XMRV to autism without publishing any data to support that statement. Some CFS patients began taking potent antiretroviral drugs meant to treat HIV.”
The New York Times reported that a “commercial lab associated with the Whittemore Peterson Institute began marketing screening tests for XMRV, the hypothesized cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, costing hundreds of dollars.” Two years after the study came out, it was retracted and repudiated by Mikovits’ scientific peers.
At the time of the study’s publishing, Mikovits was still working as research director for the Whittemore Peterson Institute. The 2009 study was published in a prestigious journal and was expected to represent a breakthrough, Snopes reports, as it suggested a “viral cause” for chronic fatigue syndrome.
In 2011, the journal Science published an “editorial Expression of Concern.” In summarizing the research findings, the expression of concern noted that the article claimed “to show that a retrovirus called XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related virus) was present in the blood of 67% of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.”
However, other studies could not replicate the findings. “Since then, at least 10 studies conducted by other investigators and published elsewhere have reported a failure to detect XMRV in independent populations of CFS patients,” the expression of concern notes. Instead, there was a growing view that any association “likely reflects contamination of laboratories and research reagents with the virus,” the notation states.
The journal noted that the research “attracted considerable attention, and its publication in Science has had a far-reaching impact on the community of CFS patients and beyond.” However, because “the validity of the study by Lombardi et al. is now seriously in question, we are publishing this Expression of Concern and attaching it to Science’s 23 October 2009 publication by Lombardi et al.”
The authors issued a partial retraction of their findings, but the paper was later retracted in full. Mikovits was one of multiple authors listed on the study.
In the retraction, Bruce Alberts, the editor-in-chief, wrote that there “is evidence of poor quality control in a number of specific experiments in the Report” and noted that other studies couldn’t replicate the findings. “Science has lost confidence in the Report and the validity of its conclusions. We note that the majority of the authors have agreed in principle to retract the Report but they have been unable to agree on the wording of their statement,” Alberts wrote. “… We are therefore editorially retracting the Report.”
A 2012 release from the American Society of Microbiology says: “Contrary to previous findings, new research finds no link between chronic fatigue syndrome and the viruses XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) and pMLV (polytropic murine leukemia virus).”
Fauci played a role in the ultimate discrediting of the research; according to Discover magazine, “the NIH’s AIDS czar, Anthony Fauci, asked his friend Ian Lipkin, a neurologist and virus hunter at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, to settle the impasse” — the debate about the findings. Lipkin’s findings demonstrated that “XMRV was not actually a human pathogen … but a man-made contaminant unwittingly manufactured in a lab in the 1990s,” the magazine reported.
Mikovits participated in Lipkin’s study and also concluded that it was “the definitive answer. … There is no evidence that XMRV is a human pathogen.”
Claim: Mikovitz Was Unfairly Arrested & Jailed to Stop Her From Speaking Out
In the Plandemic clip, Mikovits admits to being arrested but claims it was to stop her from speaking out.
In the video, Mikovits claims she had 97 witnesses in the case that resulted in her arrest, including Fauci, whom she claims would have had to testify. She says she was held in jail with no charges and that intellectual material from the laboratory where she worked was “planted” in her house. “I have no constitutional freedoms or rights,” she says.
News articles from the time show that Mikovits was criminally charged after being accused by her former employer of taking lab notebooks. The charges were dismissed. It’s true she was held in jail for several days (but not several years). Contrary to the claim that the material was planted in her house, an affidavit from another employee asserts that she asked him to take them.
The eventually dismissed criminal case against Mikovits received fairly extensive news coverage at the time. According to Science magazine, in November 2011, the district attorney in Washoe County, Nevada, filed a criminal complaint against Mikovits that “charged the virologist with illegally taking computer data and related property from her former employer, the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease (WPI) in Reno, Nevada.” (Heavy has reached out to the Whittemore Peterson Institute for comment on Mikovits.)
The Chicago Tribune reported that the “University of Nevada, Reno police issued an arrest warrant listing two felony charges: possession of stolen property and unlawful taking of computer data, equipment, supplies or other computer related property.”
She was briefly jailed, but the DA later tossed the charges, Science magazine reports. (Heavy has contacted the district attorney’s office seeking comment and the original criminal complaint).
According to Science magazine, WPI co-founder Harvey Whittemore was accused criminally in a separate campaign finance donation case, complicating the case against Mikovits due to “witness issues.” In 2014, Whittemore started serving a two-year sentence in federal prison “for breaking campaign contributions laws,” according to the Review-Journal. A jury found that he funneled $133,400 in unlawful contributions “to the campaign of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev,” the newspaper reported.
According to Courthouse News, Whittemore, described as a lobbyist, was also accused in 2016 of hiding millions of dollars from creditors. He was freed from prison that same year.
In the criminal case against Mikovits, Science magazine quoted the prosecutor as explaining why the charges were dismissed: “There’s a lot going on with the federal government and different levels that wasn’t occurring when we first became involved with prosecuting this case. And we have witness issues that have arisen.”
Mikovits also filed a civil lawsuit against the Institute, but it was dismissed when she “failed to file proof of service,” according to federal court records obtained by Heavy.
The WPI also filed a civil suit seeking materials from Mikovits including laboratory notebooks used for research. The New York Times reported that a lab employee, Max Pfost, said in an affidavit that “he took items at her request, stashing notebooks in his mother’s garage in Sparks, Nev., before turning them over to Dr. Mikovits.”
He claimed that “Mikovits informed me that she was hiding out on a boat to avoid being served with papers from W.P.I.,” Pfost said in the affidavit obtained by The Times.
The Whittemore Peterson institute describes itself as “a non-profit medical research institute dedicated to the support of those with a spectrum of neuro-immune diseases (NIDs) including: myalgic encephalomyelitis, (ME), fibromyalgia, and similar complex chronic diseases of the immune system and the brain.”
Science magazine reported in 2011 that, according to WPI, “after Mikovits was terminated on 29 September, she wrongfully removed laboratory notebooks and kept other proprietary information on her laptop and in flash drives and in a personal e-mail account.” The group “won a temporary restraining order that forbids Mikovits from ‘destroying, deleting, or altering’ any of the related files or data.”
In 2011, Nature reported that Mikovits “lost a civil lawsuit filed by her former employer.” The site reported that WPI’s lawyer released a statement saying, “At yesterday’s civil hearing, the Honorable Brent Adams found that Dr. Mikovits’ degree of non-compliance with the court’s orders was willful and deliberate without justification. Consequently, the judge entered a default judgment in favor of Whittemore Peterson Institute and also awarded the Institute attorney’s fees. Most importantly to the Institute, today’s ruling requires immediate return of all misappropriated materials.”
The article claims she spent four nights in jail.
In the wake of the retracted article, Mikovits lost her job. According to Nature, she was fired in October 2011 after “she clashed with the institute’s president and co-founder, Annette Whittemore, over the work of another researcher.”
The Nature article claims that Mikovits wasn’t fired because of the retracted research paper but rather due to a “laboratory power struggle.” She was accused of refusing to allow another researcher into a lab to work with a cell line. According to Nature, Mikovits claimed the experiment would have been outside federal funding requirements.
According to Nature, the following day, a blogger “posted a figure from a 2009 paper that Mikovits co-authored in Science alongside one that Mikovits used in a recent presentation. The two figures, which are used to describe different results, look identical, except for the labelling.” Mikovitz defended the changes, saying they were appropriate.
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