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How “Disease X” Conspiracy Theories Hamper Preparations for Actual Future Pandemics

By Mike RothschildJanuary 25, 2024,

We’re still dealing with COVID, but conspiracy influencers are already on to the next pandemic

Credits: Canva.

In January 2024, global leaders and thinkers joined the World Economic Forum at its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Among the topics to be discussed in this rarified air of wealth and power were the usual – the potential and peril of AI, new trends in economics, the latest in geo-political strategy, and the like. But their most alarming topic was likely the potential spread of a horrifying new pandemic, dubbed “Disease X.”

And while the details of Disease X are scant, its effects, according to the great minds of Davos, will be felt around the world: a respiratory virus of unknown origin that’s 20 times as deadly as COVID-19, easily jumps from human to human, and might kill as many as 50 million people before it burns out; making it a spasm of death and chaos on par with the 1918 Spanish Flu, only hitting a world vastly more populated and interconnected than the one a century ago. The message from Davos was clear – Disease X has the potential be a truly catastrophic event.

It’s Not Real… Or Is It??

Fortunately, Disease X is hypothetical, with the name created in 2015 by the World Health Organization as part of a list of pathogens and plagues that could sweep through the human population as part of a new pandemic. Most of these are already understood and have treatments – diseases like Ebola, Zika, and SARS. But the possibility for an unknown illness is covered on the list as well by the “Disease X” moniker. And even as the world struggles with another wave of COVID-19, it’s inevitable that something else will emerge at some point, and that both science and government will struggle to adapt to it. One need look no further than the early failures of communication, planning, logistics, and politics that plagued the first months of the COVID pandemic. So Davos, and other exercises and studies, are helping prepare the scientific and political worlds for what might come down the road.

But just as COVID-19 brought a slew of immediate conspiracy theories and misinformation that confused and frightened people into taking bogus remedies and exposing themselves to danger; Disease X has already led to a panicked reaction that will almost certainly hinder both the effectiveness of this preparedness, and of actual responses should a new pandemic occur. Such outbreaks of conspiracy theories tied to pandemics or viral contagions are nothing new, of course. Conspiracy theories that the CIA had created AIDS were a staple of Soviet disinformation campaigns in the 80’s, while more recent outbreaks like Zika and SARS came with theories about bioengineering and the UN unleashing them as part of a world takeover. Most of these theories found little belief outside fringe communities, and burned out fairly quickly.

Likewise, conspiracist fears of “disease X” started well before Davos 2024, and even before COVID-19. But unlike past pandemic conspiracy theories that fizzled out, “disease X” and similar theories gained steam quickly during the chaos and isolation of lockdown. They found massive audiences in people who had been sent home, were kept apart from friends and family, and had no idea what was going on and who to blame. Given how quickly the scientific understanding of COVID changed, many people were able to convince themselves that all of this was a plot, and that the preparations made to counter a potential pandemic were simply part of the pandemic. These theories have had a profound and deadly effect on the course of COVID-19 – and they’re already being set up to shape how the world responses to a new pandemic that hasn’t even started yet.


As early as 2018, Alex Jones spent weeks preparing his audience for a manufactured and planned “disease X” outbreak that would “kill billions” and “bring in world government.” On and off over the next few years, Jones constantly referred to Disease X as a critical part of the plan by the evil cabal – usually some combination of Bill Gates, George Soros, the World Economic Forum, and the UN – to wipe out most of humanity and enslave the survivors. It became part of his regular rotation of conspiracy theories.

So when COVID did emerge on a large scale two years later, essentially validating the fears of the WHO in creating the “Disease X” concept in the first place, Jones was able to pivot from predicting the calamity to claiming he’d predicted it. And he did, bellowing over and over that this was the long-awaited unleashing of the deep state’s plan for global enslavement, that billions would die with the rest enslaved, and that he’d been right all along. Naturally, the only way to survive was to buy the many products he was selling to help protect your home and immune system. By the time lockdown started, Jones’s large audience had essentially been conditioned by “Disease X” conspiracy theories to believe that the entire outbreak was planned, coordinated, rehearsed. And not only was there nothing they could do to stop it, but any attempts by officials to mitigate the spread – from lockdowns early on to vaccines a year later – was part of the plan and would only make the outbreak worse.

As “disease X” recently re-entered the news thanks to Davos, Jones and countless other conspiracy theorists began ramping up the same playbook they’d before. They were able to go right back to touting “disease X” because they knew it works to spread fear, and fear leads to making money. On social media, podcasts, and popular sites like TikTok, Disease X is already being touted as the new iteration of COVID, the globalists’ final purge of humanity, and “the next Plandemic,” a clear reference to the viral video that convinced millions of people that coronavirus was a planned global genocide. And like before, the evil cabal was paradoxically doing its secret plotting in public, unveiling their final plan to destroy humanity, knowing that the vast majority of people are too ignorant and asleep to do anything about it.

Nobody knows what the next pandemic will be, when it will emerge, or what course it will take. Hence the need for exercises and plans for the unknown – and the need for the “disease X” concept in the first place. But it’s deeply comforting for conspiracy theorists to believe that someone knows, and they’re telling us what they’re planning to do. This was the appeal of COVID conspiracy theories, and it will be again – the idea that world-changing events aren’t random chaos, but meticulously planned enemy action.

“Disease X” is nothing like that, and is an attempt to control the chaos before it emerges. As such, the potential for conspiracy theories about it to hamper the future response to a new pandemic is enormous. It’s indisputable that COVID killed more people and spread faster because of conspiracy theories and lack of preparedness. And unfortunately, the same thing will happen whenever the next iteration strikes – no matter how many panels and discussions are held at Davos. In preparing for “Disease X,” we actually hamper our ability to deal with it, simply because a vast machine of conspiracy influencers has too much at stake otherwise.

For sixteen years, Conspiracy Watch has been diligently spreading awareness about the perils of conspiracy theories through real-time monitoring and insightful analyses. To keep our mission alive, we rely on the critical support of our readers.

Mike Rothschild
Mike Rothschild
Journalist and expert focused on the rise and spread of conspiracy theories, he is the author of the first complete book on the QAnon conspiracy movement, "The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything", and his newest book is "Jewish Space Lasers: The Rothschilds and 200 Years of Conspiracy Theories". In addition to his writing and interviews, Mike has worked as an expert witness in cases related to QAnon and the 2020 Election, testified to  U.S. Congress on the danger of election fraud disinformation, and submitted written testimony to the January 6th Select Committee on the role of QAnon in the Capitol attack.
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