Hot new conspiracy theory in China: The U.S. leaked the monkeypox

(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

All part of our master plan.

Step one: Start a monkeypox outbreak
Step two: ??????
Step three: World domination

Some Chinese have spent the past two years sky high on copium, struggling to deal with their government’s negligence in unleashing a plague upon the world by looking abroad for villains instead. Naturally they settled on the United States, with Fort Detrick reportedly having become a “household name” in China thanks to propaganda alleging that the coronavirus was secretly developed at that base. Forced to choose between believing that their own country, which saw SARS 1.0 arise in the wild, might also be the genesis of SARS 2.0 and believing that the diabolical U.S. government somehow engineered SARS 2.0 and unleashed it in China surreptitiously, many Chinese naturally prefer door number two.


Some aren’t waiting around for monkeypox to reach pandemic proportions before blaming America for this one either. The new theory involves a small coincidence and industrial-grade wishcasting:

The social media speculation is centered around a 2021 report on biosecurity preparedness planning by a US non-government organisation, known as the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

The report describes a hypothetical scenario for an outbreak of monkeypox which has been taken out of context by Chinese social media users to suggest the US knew of the pandemic beforehand…

Weibo influencer Shu Chang, who has 6.41 million followers, said the report constituted ‘a plan by the US to leak bioengineered monkeypox virus’.

Many Weibo users seemed to agree with her, with more than 7,500 users liking the post, according to Bloomberg.

The monkeypox outbreak in the NTI scenario begins with terrorists attacking a lab where monkeypox has been genetically engineered to become more contagious. (I.e. to become smallpox, essentially.) Result: Three billion global infections and 270 million deaths. The point of the report is to model different containment protocols in the wake of COVID and imagine how countries that implemented them would do in limiting infections. But because the authors happened to pick monkeypox as their hypothetical bioweapon instead of some other virus like Ebola, Chinese social media will dine out for weeks.


Needless to say, absent a major mutation while it’s circulating, the actual monkeypox that’s spreading now shouldn’t infect tons of people. Although you’d be forgiven for assuming that it might if you’ve been following the news casually, given the way certain media outlets have hyped the outbreak:

The White House is keeping things in perspective, with one natsec official there telling NPR that the threat to the general public is low. The threat to gay and bisexual men is somewhat higher, the CDC warned today, which is unsurprising if you read yesterday’s post. The sensational speculative theory for why there’s suddenly a global outbreak of monkeypox is that the virus has evolved in a meaningful way to make it more transmissible among people. The less exciting but more probable theory is that the virus is a bit more transmissible inherently than scientists had known, having seen it previously only in less populous areas in Africa. Someone who was infected brought it into a crowded western venue, giving the virus an unusual number of opportunities to spread, and it did spread. And now here we are.

Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, told The Associated Press that the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission at raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals…

Heymann, who is also a professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the monkeypox outbreak was likely a random event that might be traceable to a single infection.

“It’s very possible there was somebody who got infected, developed lesions on the genitals, hands or somewhere else, and then spread it to others when there was sexual or close, physical contact,” Heymann hypothesized. “And then there were these international events that seeded the outbreak around the world, into the U.S. and other European countries.”


In some patients the telltale rash that follows infection has appeared before the fever and achiness has begun, and anyone with a rash is probably infectious. Maybe that’s how the outbreak began, with Patient Zero feeling fine apart from an unexplained blister or two and heading out to party — an unusually large party, unfortunately. The Gran Canaria gay pride festival to which multiple patients have been linked reportedly drew 80,000 attendees from various countries over 10 days.

What doctors are most concerned with now is potential endemicity. No one’s expecting three billion infections and 270 million deaths. But if the pox spreads widely enough it could make the jump to local animals in the wild, where it’ll have an indefinite natural reservoir. It almost happened in the U.S. once before. In 2003, animals imported from Africa spread monkeypox to prairie dogs inside a pet store and the prairie dogs ultimately infected 47 people. The virus never made the jump to the wild, thankfully.

But if it does this time, dark possibilities will percolate. One of the leading theories for how Omicron managed to depart so wildly from the genetic structure of the original Wuhan virus was that it jumped from humans to animals somewhere, mutated in those infected animals, then made the jump back to humans in its new Frankenstein form. Giving monkeypox a huge animal population to evolve in would be risky business.


Production of smallpox vaccines is being ramped up, just in case.

Here’s Scott Gottlieb discussing the likely worst-case scenario, low-level spread in the west that persists long enough for the disease to become endemic. By the way, western conspiracy theorists are also hard at work trying to explain the sudden emergence of monkeypox. The biosecurity state needs a new excuse for lockdowns, the Democrats need a gamechanger for the midterms, the pharmaceutical companies need a new cash cow — this crankery is all tediously familiar and paint-by-numbers at this point.

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