Why Does Jeremy Corbyn's Brother Still Believe COVID-19 Is a Hoax?

COVID-19 is definitely real but millions of people around the world believe it isn't. Why do people still think that? What would it take to change their minds and is it just a perfect storm of conspiracy theorists congregating around one issue?

The death toll for COVID-19 around the world is approaching 1,000,000 with over 30 million confirmed cases. It is the biggest global pandemic since the 1918 flu and has decimated economies around the world.

Yet a growing number of people think that it is all a conspiracy, that it has all been concocted by the mega-rich and that there is no proof that the virus really exists. A quarter of people in the U.S. believe there is at least some truth to these conspiracy theories, according to Pew Research. It is thought that one-fifth of Britons believe COVID-19 is a hoax, according to the Oxford Coronavirus Explanations, Attitudes, and Narratives Survey.

One of those people is Piers Corbyn, a physicist, weather forecaster and brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"The call for measures is a hoax," Piers Corbyn tells Newsweek. "There's no justification for this type of activity. It is aimed at imposing a new form of society as the World Economic Forum has said—an extreme, fascistic, world society and we're totally opposed to that. The claims of the dangers of the virus are a hoax. Does the virus itself exist? We have challenged the government to produce evidence... and they have failed to do so, logically, we can conclude it's quite likely [COVID-19] does not exist.

"The claims that there is a dangerous virus out there now are a hoax, yes. Was there anything dangerous before in China? There may well have been or it could have been 5G, we don't know, but what's around now, if there's anything around now, is not what was there at the start."

The COVID-19 pandemic has attracted a number of different conspiracy theories: that it was caused by the 5G communication masts; that it was created to move power towards China and the global elite; that it's a ruse to get everyone vaccinated; that it is a conspiracy to remove the human rights of people and enforce a new world order and a number of others. All of these are false.

While one would never wish to be accused of being too skeptical, the number of people amenable to conspiracy theories has not gone up, so it could be implied that people are just jumping from one conspiracy theory to another, with COVID-19 the perfect storm to rally around.

The 5G protests started before COVID-19, with some falsely blaming 5G towers for the death of birds. The anti-vax movement was already well established and the false beliefs in an Illuminati class of ruling elites are widely known. Yet Corbyn predicts that the anti-lockdown protest scheduled for Saturday, September 26 in London's Trafalgar Square, could have as many as 300,000 attendees.

"To one degree or another, we all have a disposition within us to view events and circumstances as the product of conspiracies," Dr. Joseph Uscinski, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami, has said. "If we have this disposition very strongly, then we will turn to a conspiracy as the explanation. Generally, that explanation will accuse people we already don't like."

"Journalists every year say this is the year of conspiracy theories, this is the golden age. Every freaking year. And it can't always be true. Humans have always believed in conspiracy theories. You can find evidence of this going back to antiquity. Emperor Nero was said to have conspired to burn Rome in 64 A.D., for example, though there's no convincing evidence he did so. It's not a new thing, and it's not clear that it's more prevalent now than it has been at any time."

Protesters in London showed signs saying "no vaccines, no GMO [genetically modified organisms], no chemtrail, no NWO [new world order], no child trafficking, no masks, no 5G." It's quite a broad-brush approach to a very specific virus.

Even Corbyn himself agrees that some are making "exaggerated claims about 5G that are nothing to do with COVID and [he is] not relying on those things" for his argument. But can it really be true that there could be one big global conspiracy?

"It is inconceivable [that it's a hoax]," Dr. Sally Hull, an academic GP from Queen Mary, University of London, tells Newsweek. "You have some incredibly rational people, take [revered statistician] Sir David Spiegelhalter, you're not going to dupe him. It's inconceivable that the whole medical, academic and a whole lot of other people are being duped by this. I'm not sure it's always worth arguing with people like this but they have to provide evidence of their claims.

"The complete genome of COVID-19 has been published. There will always be people who find reasons not to believe what they're seeing. If people haven't experienced someone close to them getting it seriously, dying or put in hospital, it's more easy not to accept what it's about.

"The most worrying aspect of this is the combination of this with the anti-vax movement. If we do get a vaccine, it would be very sad if we didn't get high numbers immunized. The anti-vax movement has a very big social media presence and governments and the medical community don't take them seriously enough."

Anti COVID protesters in Trafalgar Square
Anti-mask protesters are expected to set records in a new protest on September 26 Getty

To be clear once more: COVID-19 is not a hoax. It is real. Though as Newsweek and I are considered a member of the media establishment, what would be the proof that would change Piers Corbyn's mind?

"They'd have to isolate a virus under the Koch test and they've failed to do that," he says. "Their so-called isolation, a curious thing when the WHO said not to do that, says they've seen this thing in a petri dish, it's like an Agatha Christie novel.

"You want to get evidence that a man has been in a room and you don't find any evidence of socks or shoes but you find a banana. You say 'a banana has 60 percent the same DNA or RNA as a human therefore there's evidence of a man in the room.' This is an absurdity because a little piece of genome sequence is not a virus. It may point in that direction but that's all it does. If there was evidence of a proper virus of the Koch test, then the government would surely have provided it?"

The so-called Koch test, Koch's postulate, was set out in 1890 by German physician and bacteriologist Robert Koch as the criteria for judging if a microbe causes a disease. SARS-CoV-2 has met the requirements of Koch's postulate, according to an Oxford University study.

"It's likely genome hocus pocus. Bear in mind Oxford uni etc are shoveled money by Bill Gates and act the same way as tame (corrupt) academics did to the tobacco industry," Corbyn says of the Oxford research in a message sent after the interview. "I think I've seen this one before. [It's] basically obfuscation by technical waffle of essential fraud."

It turns out the "proof" needed can't be proven by academic institutions, with Corbyn accusing Oxford University of things that are not true and cannot be repeated here for legal reasons. Separately, the European Commission has isolated 57,000 different genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2, showing how the virus has progressed and mutated through different populations.

"They've failed to isolate a virus so they're aggrandizing about a supposed virus. That to me, is a hoax. You can't prove a negative but it is a hoax," Corbyn says.

If that's the case, it turns out the "proof" can't be provided by European governments. And if that's the case, the evidence can only be provided by the people who have no interest in finding it.

Conspiracy theories are widely said to play into built-in biases, existing fears and beliefs. If people want to believe something is true, they find evidence—however tenuous—to show it is true. With nearly one million dead from COVID-19, it is a very dangerous conspiracy theory to believe.