COVID-19 Vaccines are Russia and China Ploys to Spread Communism, Wyoming Health Official Says

A Wyoming Department of Health official claimed last month that a potential COVID-19 vaccine is a biological weapon that will be used by Russia and China to spread Communism.

Igor Shepherd is manager of readiness and countermeasures at the Department of Health. He spoke at an event in Loveland, Colorado on November 10 organized by a group called Keep Colorado Free and Open.

Shepherd referred to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as a "so-called pandemic" and spoke for more than an hour about his role in Wyoming, warning that a vaccine is a Communist ploy.

Russia has begun rolling out its own COVID vaccine, which it claims is 95 percent effective, but this is very unlikely to be used in the U.S. China has not yet developed a vaccine.

Shepherd's remarks stand in stark contrast to the state's own public health measures designed to curb the spread of the virus.

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon recently referred to those who downplay the seriousness of COVID as "knuckleheads."

Shepherd has worked in the Department of Health since 2013 and has been part of the state's response to the pandemic, according to the Associated Press. He has not served in a leadership role.

"All of the things we've said for months and the thousands of hours of dedicated work from our staff and our local partners on this response effort and our excitement for the hope the vaccine offers make our overall department position on the pandemic clear," health department spokesperson Kim Deti said in a statement to Wyoming's Casper Star-Tribune.

Keep Colorado Free and Open operates a private Facebook group with more than 6,000 members. Its description is publicly available, and reads, in part : "We are a group of average citizens who are concerned for our community, our state of Colorado and our country.

"The orders and mandates we have faced as a nation in response to Coronavirus are unconstitutional, and people everywhere are asking, 'What can we do?' This group and our website are an answer to that question. There is MUCH that we can do. There is much that we SHOULD do as a matter of right and duty!"

Attempts to develop a COVID vaccine have met with major success. The Moderna vaccine, recently praised by President Donald Trump, protected 94.5 percent of people from the disease, the company said.

A vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNtech has proven 95 percent effective, while the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine stops 70 percent of people from developing symptoms, according to the BBC.

Mass vaccination against the virus will be an essential step in getting life back to normal by arresting the spread of the disease. There are however concerns that some people will refuse to accept the vaccine and this may carry public health risks.

A COVID-19 Vaccination in a Moscow Clinic
A nurse proceeds to a vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine at a clinic in Moscow on December 5, amid the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic. One Wyoming health official called a COVID-19 vaccine a Communist ploy. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images