Ever since it was discovered, some Romanians have used the new Covid-19 omicron variant to make false claims about the pandemic.
Some are claiming its name is evidence that the whole thing was planned, while others spread a photo-shopped poster for a non-existent film called „The Omicron Variant.”
Social media posts claim that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates created a video game named „Omikron” back in 1999. In Romania, the conspiracy theory has circulated widely on social media and on apps such as WhatsApp.
A Facebook post asks: „DID YOU KNOW?” Omikron was the name of a 1999 video game by Microsoft and Bill Gates about demons pretending to be humans and harvesting their souls.”
A video circulating online fuels conspiracy theories further as it shows the game’s anti-government plot featuring a digitally illustrated David Bowie-like character.
The game is real and was available to play on Microsoft Windows computers in November 1999, but it wasn’t developed by Microsoft or Gates.
Hundreds of thousands of social media users shared the post including in Romania where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the European Union. Conspiracy theories on the pandemic are relatively common in a country where there is a distrust of authority.
„Creativity in disinformation knows no bounds!” the RO Vaccinare site said on Facebook and debunking the fake news.
The Omicron variant of Covid-19 was first detected by South Africa. The variant has a large number of mutations and WHO classified it on November 26 as a variant that causes concern.
WHO names variants of concern in the letter of the Greek alphabet Some letters such as „No” and „Xi” were skipped for clarity, „No” sounds similar to the word „new”, and „Xi” is a common family name.