Covid-19 pandemic was not planned by Rockefeller Foundation

17 May 2021
What was claimed

The Rockefeller Foundation planned the Covid-19 pandemic under the name ‘Operation Lockstep’.

Our verdict

This is entirely false. ‘Lock Step’ was the name of a scenario planning exercise that examined what might happen in a future pandemic, but differs considerably from the current pandemic.

It has been claimed on social media that the pandemic was planned by the Rockefeller Foundation, under the guise of something called ‘Operation Lockstep’. Claims circulating on WhatsApp say these plans were originally published in a book in 1989. None of this is true. 

All the posts include a page of text titled: “Operation Lockstep: from the Rockefeller Playbook”. 

It describes a scenario whereby a combination of “draconian” lockdown rules imposed in response to a mild illness, and exposure to “5G radiation” lead to lowered immunity.    

The post appears to make several claims about the current pandemic, but many are things we have previously fact checked and found to be false. For example, evidence shows that Covid-19 is not the same as flu, Covid-19 is more dangerous than the flu, coronavirus tests do not give a large number of false positive results, we do have accurate numbers for how many people have died of Covid and 5G is not harmful.

It then says when people “re-emerge into society” they will become ill and this will be blamed on Covid-19. People will be offered a vaccine and a “weaponised” virus will be released if too many people refuse the vaccine, leading to war between the vaccinated and unvaccinated. There is nothing to suggest any of this will happen.

The Rockefeller Foundation is a private foundation based in America, founded by the wealthy Rockefeller family more than a century ago. Claims about Operation Lockstep have been previously debunked by American fact checking organisation Snopes, which reported that in 2010 the Rockefeller Foundation funded a scenario planning exercise called ‘Scenario for the Future of Technology and International Development’. 

This looked at various different imagined scenarios and the role technology could theoretically play in them, including a global pandemic. The global pandemic scenario was named ‘Lock Step’ in this exercise. 

However, the ‘Lock Step’ outlined in the Rockefeller Foundation’s work bears little resemblance to the ‘Operation Lockstep’ text being circulated on social media, and made no mention of Covid-19 at all. It also does not talk about 5G, inflation of case numbers, flawed testing, weaponised viruses or a war caused by vaccines. 

Instead, it imagines a pandemic caused by an influenza strain which originated in wild geese, emerging in 2012 and killing 8 million people in seven months, the majority of deaths being in “healthy young adults”. (In contrast, the Covid-19 pandemic is estimated to have killed 3.38 million people in the 17 months since it was first detected in December 2019, with the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions most at risk).

The imagined scenario bears a passing resemblance to the current situation, such as governments imposing restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.

However, the scenario also describes Africa and Southeast Asia being particularly affected by the imagined virus, whereas Covid-19 has more severely affected Europe, South America and the United States.   

Another version of this claim being widely shared on WhatsApp says that the false ‘Operation Lockstep’ text comes from a book published in 1989 called ‘The New World Order’ by A. Ralph Epperson. This is a real book, albeit one full of conspiracy theories, which claims to uncover secrets of the Great Seal of the United States. But it does not mention anything about Covid-19, Operation Lockstep or plans for a future pandemic anywhere within its text

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because this text is invented and does not come from the Rockefeller Foundation or ‘The New World Order’.

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