FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A new viral video claiming to be an excerpt from a forthcoming documentary, Plandemic, is the latest in a growing number of Covid-19 disinformation efforts. In it and other videos, discredited virus researcher, Dr. Judy Mikovits, claims among other things that Covid-19 is a manmade virus that cannot be transmitted asymptomatically human to human and discourages the wearing of masks and social distancing.
“Covid-19 disinformation is a threat to public health at-large, but is especially damaging to vulnerable chronic illness and disabled communities,” said Jennifer Brea, co-founder of the patient advocacy organization for people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), #MEAction. “People with ME/CFS are fighting for good science and are desperate for treatments. We are already living with neurological and immune dysfunction. Getting the facts wrong puts our lives at risk.”
In 2009, Judy Mikovits published a study in the journal Science claiming that a mouse virus called XMRV caused ME/CFS. After two major groups failed to replicate her study and determined that her earlier findings were due to laboratory contamination, the paper was retracted from Science in 2011 (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/334/6063/1636.1.full). Mikovits herself was unable to replicate her original results when given blinded samples, a finding she put her name to in a 2012 journal article. (https://mbio.asm.org/content/3/5/e00266-12)
Subsequently, Mikovits was arrested for allegedly stealing data from The Whittemore-Peterson Institute, her employer at the time. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/11/controversial-cfs-researcher-arrested-and-jailed
In the years since, Mikovits exited ME/CFS research circles and became a prominent figure in the anti-vaccine community. In April, she suddenly reappeared in the public eye, releasing a torrent of videos and articles claiming she had uncovered the true cause of cancer, ME/CFS, COVID-19, and autism: vaccines tainted with XMRV.
Notably, a research group at the Cleveland Clinic claimed a link between XMRV and prostate cancer in 2006, but retracted those results after those findings could not be replicated. The Cleveland Clinic team also determined XMRV to be a laboratory contaminant. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23028701
What is ME/CFS?
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME/CFS, is a devastating multi-system disease that causes dysfunction of the neurological, immune, endocrine and energy metabolism systems. It often follows an acute infection and leaves 75% of those affected unable to work and 25% homebound, with many bedridden. Yet research funding remains low, and there are currently no FDA-approved treatments for ME/CFS. An estimated 15-30 million people worldwide have ME/CFS. https://www.meaction.net/about/what-is-me
People with ME/CFS have fought for decades for funding and visibility, and we have made substantial gains. The Institute of Medicine (now National Academies of Medicine) wrote a landmark report on ME/CFS in 2015. CDC updated its public-facing available information on ME/CFS, and NIH held its first annual symposium on ME/CFS just last year. Stanford, Harvard, Cornell, and Columbia all have research teams focused on ME/CFS.
Consensus among these scientists is that there is no link between XMRV and ME/CFS, or any known human disease, nor has any link between ME/CFS and vaccination been established.
#MEAction is building a global movement to fight for recognition, education and research so that one day, all people with ME will have access to compassionate, effective care.