Fact Check: WHO Did NOT Predict A Zombie Apocalypse Caused By A Virus

Fact Check

  • by: Jamal Halaby
Fact Check: WHO Did NOT Predict A Zombie Apocalypse Caused By A Virus No Zombies

Did the World Health Organization (WHO) predict a new virus called "Disease X" that will turn humans into zombies and that is expected to hit the world soon, leading to lockdowns and deaths in the millions? No, that's not true. The WHO did not prophesize that there would be a "Disease X," but it launched a global scientific process in November 2022 to study and compile evidence on over 25 virus families, bacteria, and "Disease X," -- a name for an as-yet unknown pathogen that could cause a serious international epidemic, according to a WHO statement released on November 21, 2022.

The claim appeared in as a video (archived here) and posted on TikTok on September 27, 2023, under the title: "Advice on a impending epidemic."

The 12-second video in Arabic, which was translated into English by Lead Stories, listed guidelines on ways to shield oneself against what the hashtag labelled as "zombies" and "Disease X."

It opened:

Train to run fast, climb and swim. Wear a mask at all times and don't touch anyone. Don't forget to start storing food and water. If nobody believes that there is an imminent epidemic, don't say this is a lie, so that when it (the virus) spreads, you'd be prepared.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Zombie Virus.jpg

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Sep 28 12:48:48 2023 UTC)

Other TikTok videos went as far as offering advice on how to fight, or even kill, the infected humans turned into zombies. One of the videos claimed that several nations worldwide have already been destroyed by the "zombie virus." In a brief footage, the video showed a creature crawling on its hands and feet, saying it was a zombie in Iraq.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States published a report in 2011 outlining ways of preparedness in case of a health emergency. The guidelines depicted a graphic novel titled: "Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic," which the agency said demonstrated the "importance of being prepared in an entertaining way that people of all ages will enjoy." The CDC said readers follow novel characters Todd, Julie, and their dog Max as a "strange new disease begins spreading, turning ordinary people into zombies."

WebMD, an American company that publishes online news and information about drugs, human health and well-being, said in a report published in March 2023 that the term "zombie viruses" is used to describe previously dormant viruses that "had been frozen in ice for tens of thousands of years, about 27,000 to 48,500 years ago."

The Daily Loud, an online site for hip-hop music and news, claimed in a post on X, previously known as Twitter, that scientists have revived a "zombie" virus that spent 48,500 years frozen in permafrost.

But Poynter, a Florida-based institute and newsroom that provides fact-checking, media literacy and journalism ethics, stressed in a report published on September 28, 2023, that it was unlikely that dormant viruses could resuscitate under global warming. It said scientists have found that within melting permafrost there are ancient viruses and bacteria, some previously unknown to science. However, it added that "most of these viruses can only infect amoebas, and while there might be some frozen viruses preserved in permafrost out there that could once infect humans, experts agree that it's very unlikely for those types of viruses to come back to life."

  Jamal Halaby

Jamal Halaby is a fact-checker, who has been working with Lead Stories for nearly two years, helping bring the truth and factual information to the organization's global audience. With extensive background in investigative journalism and content writing and editing in Arabic and English, Jamal uses that experience to expose a burgeoning market of misinformation and disinformation. Previously, he worked as a writer for the Associated Press and several other reputable international news organizations. He has a passion for empirical analysis and discerning the veracity of the news.

Read more about or contact Jamal Halaby

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