Against the background of yet another coronavirus wave that hit the world, antivaxxers and fans of conspiracy theories, masterminds behind the latter, and other malign actors affecting public sanity seem to be thriving.
I recently took note of a new trend observed across the fringe platforms of the Russian segment on the internet, the ones largely handled by Kremlin’s security agencies. There has been a flood of reports citing a “study by Johns Hopkins University, which allegedly confirms the theory that Covid vaccines do more harm than good!
The man behind the claim who goes by the name of Joel Smalley claims it was precisely COVID-19 vaccination that caused the latest spike in corona-related fatalities.
It seems that such allegations are a shocker to information consumers who never delve into the essence, double-check their sources or read beyond the headlines. Thus it aims to shape a certain public opinion toward distrust of vaccines. In fact though, some common sense and critical thinking must be switched on.
Doing this puts all puzzle pieces in the right places and opens even more interesting details.
First, Joel Smalley is not employed by Johns Hopkins University. He only used university data in a video he posted on his YouTube channel, where a first video is dated September 11, 2020 (a rather symbolic date, isn’t it?), despite the channel being created eight years ago, on January 30, 2012! Moreover, throughout the 12 months, Smalley published only five videos, none of which involved any original research, simply sharing someone else’s interviews, with an emphasis on the alleged “harm” vaccination and quarantine measures bring.
Moreover, sticking a thorn in the side of vaccines produced by big international pharma, he used data mainly from the third world where the launch of inoculation campaigns dragged far beyond those across the EU or in the US, and where the coronavirus waves also hit the population with a certain delay.
This is about countries such as Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Albania, Bangladesh, Jamaica, etc. But why wasn’t France on the list? And where’s the UK? Where’s Italy? No. It’s only the countries that kicked off their vaccination effort much later than others, where health care systems are lagging behind and where popular superstitions hinder the vaccination process.
So a natural question arises: Who is Joel Smalley?
Secondly. In the context of the “harm” allegedly brought by vaccination, most of the references lead to the NewsTarget outlet, an English-language platform with a hefty international audience that is for some reason incorporated in Taiwan. Well, that’s probably because this way it would evade responsibility under U.S. laws for spreading Covid disinformation. But that’s not even the point.
The fact is that it wasn’t even NewsTarget, which often posts articles so outrageous they aren’t even worth mentioning, that broke the story. The platform posted the piece about the alleged “dangers” of vaccination on October 14, 2021, noting as it source another outlet, InfoWars, a medium which gained notoriety in the US for relaying the thickest conspiracy theories, manned by Alex Jones!
“Are reptilians running the presidential administration?” InfoWars will tell you the whole truth! Did the ancient Anunnaki Gods create humans to mine gold for the distant planet Nibiru? InfoWars has solid evidence which you are welcome to share!
Alex Jones’ extreme toxicity led Apple in 2018 to remove hundreds of his podcasts, including with InfoWars, from their apps. In the same year, Facebook blocked the InfoWars page for hate speech.
At the same time, it is Alex Jones who is often invited to speak on the air of Russia’s Tsargrad TV, supervised by oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, an avid Orthodox believer who is known to be among the sponsors of Russia’s war against Ukraine in Donbas, a close friend of Putin’s long-time aide Vladislav Surkov and a useful asset handled by Russia’s military intelligence.
It is Alex Jones who is a frequent guest at panel shows hosted by another GRU minion, Alexander Dugin. Moreover, Jones invited Dugin to speak for InfoWars.
Alex Jones has also promoted the policies pursued by Russian leader Vladimir Putin and showered criticism on the inquiry into Donald Trump and his administration’s Kremlin ties.
Now, let’s put this grotesquely surrealistic puzzle together.
On September 26, on the eve of the new coronavirus wave, a low-profile YouTube channel posts a video with some graphs based on data from Johns Hopkins University, allegedly proving the harm of massive vaccination.
On October 7, the video initially briefly mentions InfoWars as its source.
On October 10, as the Covid wave is gaining momentum, on InfoWars, the platform promoting all kinds of conspiracy theories, Alex Jones, the man repeatedly spotted around individuals affiliated with the Russian GRU, posts a more detailed piece referring to the said video, also compromising vaccination efforts.
On October 14, the piece is shared by NewsTarget, the outlet not as toxic as InfoWars, but still notorious for its manipulative and deceitful material.
Then, on October 21, the said report makes its way into Runet, a Russian-language segment of the internet. And I have no doubt it will also surface on Tsargrad-TV and a number of other GRU-run media platforms, accompanied with a major narrative: Vaccines made by Western powers are bad!
Of course, the stunt could be attributed to a wider and longer-term campaign to discredit Western vaccines and instead promote Russia’s Sputnik V, as it was a year ago. In reality though, the latest stats show Covid fatalities are on decline across Europe, while those in Russia are steadily rising from month to month, as if the first wave never ended! And that’s despite the fact that over 30% of Russians have received their Sputnik V jab. So how come?
That is, the GRU could simply be trying to create information noise about the alleged inefficiency of “Western” vaccines, manipulating the data in order to justify the ongoing fallout in Russia and the apparent failure of Sputnik V…
Perhaps this is precisely the case. But look how much it costs them, indeed. And it’s not in terms of money of course, it’s about human lives that have been put in jeopardy. Over the past 24 hours alone, Russia officially confirmed 1036 deaths marking an all-time high.
But the thing is that the mortality rate in Russia, in contrast to other countries where inoculation campaigns were launch at about the same time as in Russia, never corresponded to the rise and fall stages of Covid waves, steadily continuing to grow. And today, the trend prevails.
But how else can anyone justify the mediocre level of Russian medicine and the traditional anti-humane stance of their authorities other than by launching yet another fake story about the inefficiency of Western vaccines?
This time it is a really, really costly effort, entrusted to Russia’s agents of influence in the US. Surprisingly enough, the FBI seems to haven’t yet looked closely enough into Alex Jones, as well as Joel Smalley, a Russian disinfo cesspool operator.
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