The claims can be found on obscure online message boards and major platforms like Twitter. Some versions claim the flu is fake, a hoax being used to justify reducing the supply of birds in an effort to drive up food prices, either to wreck the global economy or force people into vegetarianism.
“There is no ‘bird flu’ outbreak,” wrote one man on Reddit. “It’s just Covid for chickens.”
Other posters insist the flu is real, but that it was genetically engineered as a weapon, possibly intended to touch off a new round of COVID-style lockdowns. A version of the story popular in India posits that 5G cell towers are somehow to blame for the virus.
As evidence, many of those claiming that the flu is fake note that animal health authorities monitoring the outbreak are using some of the same technology used to test for COVID-19.