Text over a battered vial labeled “Canine Coronavirus Vaccine” and “Nobivac” pinched between two fingers said:
Now this was 2001 tell me why 19 years later they say there is no vaccine share before they take it down again
We didn’t see any immediate tie between the “canine coronavirus vaccine” vial and the year 2001 in the image, but the object shown in the photo certainly didn’t appear to be new. Neither was the claim itself — a similar post with a similar image circulated on March 13 2020.
That photograph was accompanied by the text below, which contained the claim that the canine coronavirus vaccine dated back to 2019 — earlier in the year that novel coronavirus strain COVID-19 (or SARS-CoV-2) was first discovered:
Can anyone explain to me why they made a Corona virus vaccine a year ago for K9s but are acting like this shit is a new virus that came from China just recently? If they have a vaccine for dogs, don’t u think they wud have one for humans too? Wtf is the government tryin to pull on us really?
We have addressed elements of the generalized rumor corporations had “advance knowledge” of the novel virus, such as on this January 29 2020 page about the word “coronavirus” appearing on Lysol products:
That page covered the primary reason that finding photographs of purported vials of “canine coronavirus vaccine” are in no way surprising or groundbreaking. We also noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been monitoring what was then an emerging pandemic.
In their resources was background information about the existence of myriad coronaviruses, indication that they affected humans as well as animals, and that human coronaviruses were a class of viruses first discovered in the 1960s:
Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world. Seven different coronaviruses, that scientists know of, can infect people and make them sick. Some human coronaviruses were identified many years ago and some have been identified recently. Human coronaviruses commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide. Two newer human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have been known to frequently cause severe illness.
Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s.
That alone essentially dealt with all the assumptions and claims about “canine coronavirus vaccine” unmasking a global conspiracy, because:
- Human coronaviruses are common all over the globe;
- Prior to COVID-19, scientists had identified no fewer than seven coronaviruses which specifically infect and sicken humans;
- Both SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, diseases which were novel prior to SARS-CoV-2, are in the coronavirus family;
- And primarily, scientists first discovered and identified “human coronaviruses” in the mid-1960s.
In light of that, the existence of a vaccine for “canine coronavirus,” no matter the year, had no bearing on the discovery of a novel coronavirus later called SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
We addressed another pertinent detail on our page about Imperial College London’s March 2020 report, “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand.” That particular report had a major effect on the global response to the emerging pandemic:
As we explained on that page, that report was important in terms of understanding of and response to the novel coronavirus later called SARS-CoV-2:
In context, the “impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs)” was due to the fact pharmaceutical approaches like vaccines or medications had not yet been developed to combat the novel strain of coronavirus, meaning that public health officials and hospitals around the world were limited to behavioral approaches (such as lockdowns and social distancing) to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. The report laid bare the fact that the primary and most important factor in reducing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and to circumvent millions of deaths globally was one based on the actions of individuals worldwide.
Without any sort of effective medicine or vaccine to use to stem the flow of sickness, the sole approaches remaining concerned governments intervening to limit activity among citizens — including school, work, retail environments, gatherings, and other everyday actions most people take for granted as necessarily safe and common.
In other words, the title described the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic — no pharmaceutical interventions existed at all, anywhere, to address the strain — and global public health officials have been forced to act based on that baseline fact.
Once again, the importance of the “novel” part of “novel coronavirus” was undeniable — coronaviruses existed and had been identified decades before the COVID-19 pandemic. What made SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it caused (COVID-19) so disruptive was its “novel” nature. Although coronaviruses were well-documented, SARS-CoV-2 was a completely new virus, one to which the medical community struggled to respond and treat as the pandemic continued on.
Although vials of “canine coronavirus vaccine” purportedly from 2001 appeared to be evidence that some shadowy entity was in the know and ready to cash in on novel coronavirus and COVID-19, their popularity and spread depended on the omission of two key pieces of context — that coronaviruses themselves were not new as of 2019, and that any novel virus by its nature emerges with no known therapies or pharmaceutical approaches. Shorthanding “novel coronavirus” to “coronavirus” seemed to further the idea coronaviruses themselves were novel (they were not), when the truth was that the strain causing COVID-19 was what was new.