Are social distancing guidelines and the COVID-19 pandemic part of a government plot to track and control citizens? No, that's not true: Osteopath Rashid Buttar, a practitioner who has been sued for fraud, made the claim in a video rant that also included other false claims. There is no evidence to support Dr. Buttar's claim that the government wants Americans to stay six-feet apart so that military satellites can better track RF chips that will soon be implanted in each citizen.
The claims appear in a video posted on YouTube on June 9, 2020 titled "THEY CAN'T STOP THIS INFORMATION !!! DR RASHID BUTTAR" (archived here) which opened:
For god sake, this is changing the planet. And every scientist and every doctor that knows this to be a facade needs to open their mouths and speak. people need to wake up and realize there is a massive criminal component.
The is the video on YouTube:
The pace of the 8:45-minute narration is frenetic, and the rant is full of unsupported claims, including the bizarre claim that social distancing guidelines promoted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are part of a strategy to enhance the federal government's ability to track people.
Buttar claims he has evidence that RF microchips that can be tracked by military satellites are being implanted in people.
Buttar doesn't share reasons why the U.S. government would want to track each citizen. But if it did, implanting microchips in everyone and then asking them to stand six feet away from everyone else so a satellite has a clear view of them at all times does not seem practical.
The National Security Agency can already accurately locate almost anyone's whereabouts through cellular towers and smartphones that people keep "on" as they move around. The NSA compiles information on a vast database of devices and their locations... to identify what it calls "co-travelers" -- unknown associates who might be traveling with, or meeting up with, a known target, according to the NSA Open Signal and MIT Media Lab.
The government does have a real reason to encourage Americans not to walk too close to others during the pandemic. The CDC explained on its social distancing guideline webpage that COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period. Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby.
Lead Stories has previously debunked claims about efforts to put microchips in people, including these stories:
Fact Check: Bill Gates Will NOT Personally Profit From A COVID-19 Vaccine And He Does NOT Own A Company That Will Put A Tracking Microchip In You
Fact Check: Fact And Fiction About Microsoft Patent Application 'WO2020060606 - CRYPTOCURRENCY SYSTEM USING BODY ACTIVITY DATA'
Fake News: The United Nations Has NOT Decreed That Humanity Should Place The Microchip
Fact Check: Photos Do NOT Show Mass Microchipping In Sweden Has Begun
Another claim by Buttar is that many of the people testing positive for COVID-19 are false positives because they previously had flu shots.
Why is this not true?
Flu shots are made using inactivated (not infectious) flu viruses or with a single gene from a flu virus in order to produce an immune response, according to the CDC.
"Influenza leads to a different immune response than COVID-19 does. The two do not interact with each other," Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., an epidemiologist and director of the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy, told Lead Stories.
FactCheck.org investigated the claim when Buttar made it in a video in April. Their debunk titled Flu Shot Doesn't Cause False Positive Results for COVID-19 concluded:
Vaccine and infectious disease experts told us that's false, and the Food and Drug Administration says this hasn't been observed in any authorized tests.
Dr. Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told FactCheck.org that the "PCR tests" -- or polymerase chain reaction tests -- used to identify active COVID-19 infections look for "genetic fragments that are unique to this coronavirus." Offit said there's no cross-reaction between influenza and the novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, meaning traces of influenza wouldn't result in a positive result for COVID-19.
HealthFeedback.org also fact checked the claim in an article titled Claim that flu shot causes false positive results on COVID-19 tests is unsupported and misleading that pointed out that claims about flu vaccinations and coronavirus pre-date the 2019 arrival of the SARS2-COV and they refer to the common cold virus, which has a corona shape.
Lead Stories previously debunked a claim that having a flu shot increases a person's risk of contracting COVID-19. Read Fact Check: The Flu Shot Does NOT Increase Risk Of Contracting COVID-19 By 36%
Another Buttar false claim is that COVID-19 has caused fewer deaths than seasonal flu.
The peer-reviewed and respected Journal of the American Medical Association, published May 4, 2020 online, states that deaths from COVID-19 were up to 44.1-fold greater than the peak weeks of influenza deaths during the past seven flu seasons in the U.S.
During the week ending April 21, 2020, 15,455 COVID-19 counted deaths were reported in the U.S. The reported number of counted deaths from the previous week, ending April 14, was 14,478. By contrast, according to the CDC, counted deaths during the peak week of the influenza seasons from 2013-2014 to 2019-2020 ranged from 351 (2015-2016, week 11 of 2016) to 1,626 (2017-2018, week 3 of 2018). The mean number of counted deaths during the peak week of influenza seasons from 2013-2020 was 752.4. These statistics on counted deaths suggest that the number of COVID-19 deaths for the week ending April 21 was 9.5-fold to 44.1-fold greater than the peak weeks of counted influenza deaths during the past 7 influenza seasons in the US, with a 20.5-fold mean increase.
Criticism about the case-counting methods of local health departments and the CDC have some validity, the JAMA authors say, but one example of COVID-19 spread and death count cannot be disputed because the victims of the coronavirus were uniquely isolated and examined.
"At present, the Diamond Princess cruise ship outbreak is one of the few situations for which complete data are available. For this outbreak, the case fatality rate as of late April 2020 was 13 deaths out of 712 cases. If age-adjusted to reflect the general population, the case fatality rate would still be 5 times the commonly cited case fatality rate of adult seasonal influenza."
Here are some of the Lead Stories debunks concerning the death rate of COVID-19 and infuenza:
Fact Check: COVID-19 Death Rate Is NOT A Mere '0.1%'
Fact Check: U.S. Survival Rate From COVID-19 Is NOT 99.983 Percent
Fact Check: Coronavirus Mortality Rate NOT Proven To Be 0.03% By Bakersfield Doctors
Fact Check: The Flu Did NOT Kill 80,000 People In the United States Last Year
Buttar claims that you cannot catch the virus.
Lead Stories previously debunked a similar claim in our story Fact Check: Video Claiming You Cannot Catch Coronavirus Is NOT True.
People sickened by COVID-19 are most infectious when they are showing symptoms, including fever, coughing and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, those at greatest risk of infection are persons who have had prolonged, unprotected close contact with a patient with symptomatic, confirmed COVID-19 and those who live in or have recently been to areas with sustained transmission.
New research confirms that those without symptoms are playing a significant role in spreading the virus. A study of cruise ship passengers found that nearly 18% of them tested positive and had no symptoms. The state of Minnesota and University of Minnesota researchers modeling the pandemic's effects now estimate that one infected person is spreading it to as many as four others.
Buttar claimed that Hydroxychloroquine helps to cure Covid-19.
Numerous large studies now have shown this to be false. Again, Lead Stories has debunked Buttar's claim in an article titled Fact Check: NO Definitive Proof Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine Effective Against COVID-19, but since that March 20, 2020, publication there is even more medical evidence.
Two large studies of 2,800 hospitalized patients in New York City have found the drug was essentially useless against the virus. The May 7, 2020 edition of the Washington Post reports researchers' conclusion in the New England Journal of Medicine: "In this analysis involving a large sample of consecutive patients who had been hospitalized with Covid-19, the risk of intubation or death was not significantly higher or lower among patients who received hydroxychloroquine than among those who did not." The results, they said, "do not support the use of hydroxychloroquine at present" except in clinical trials. If the drug had any effectiveness against the coronavirus, it would probably have shown some positive results. It did not.
Buttar also claimed a new vaccine against the novel coronavirus will not be tested.
This is false. Vaccines started testing as of April, 2020 at multiple sites across the globe. In an unprecedented effort to find the best vaccine, leading vaccine makers have agreed to share data and lend the use of their clinical trial networks to competitors should their own experimental shot fail.
Candidates that demonstrate safety in small early studies will be tested in huge trials of 20,000 to 30,000 volunteer subjects for each vaccine, slated to start in July.
The United States plans a massive testing effort involving more than 100,000 volunteers and a half dozen or so of the most promising vaccine candidates in an effort to deliver a safe and effective one by the end of 2020.
The project will compress what is typically 10 years of vaccine development and testing into a matter of months, testimony to the urgency to halt a pandemic that has infected more than 5 million people, killed over 335,000 and battered economies worldwide.
Buttar also misquotes founding father Thomas Jefferson:
Thomas Jefferson said, 'if people allow a government to dictate what food they put in their mouths and what medicines they take in their bodies, their souls will soon be in the same sorry state as those who live under tyranny.'
But Monticello.com, a website devoted to Jefferson's history, explained what the third president of the United States really said:
Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.
Other debunk articles from Lead Stories concerning false claims by Buttar include:
Fact Check: Dr. Rashid Buttar Does NOT Show 'Undercover Footage' In Vaccine Video
Fact Check: HR 6666 Is NOT Going To Forcibly Remove People With COVID-19 From Homes As Dr. Rashid Buttar Claim