Fact Check-“Avoiding the future plague” video was made in 2020, intended as satire

A black and white video is being shared on social media that appears to have warned in 1956 about a future COVID-19 pandemic. Pointing to the purported date of creation, some users claim the footage is evidence that the outbreak, which has taken the lives of over 2.8 million people around the world, was planned. This is false: the compilation of footage was created in 2020 and was intended as satire.

A post here shared over 3,578 times reads: “This 2-minute recording was made on Feb. 29, 1956, 65 years ago! Listen closely to the last 30 seconds of this recording...Sound familiar?” Another iteration can be seen here . Comments include: “WOW WELL PLANNED AND PREDICTED HUH” and “64 years of predictive programming!?”

The clip, made to resemble an old Public Service Announcement (PSA), starts with a text on screen that reads: “Avoiding the Future Plague” with a date stamp of “February 29, 1956”. Around 90 seconds into the clip, the voiceover says: “Experts predict that by 2020 a new virus will rise, spreading from somewhere in Asia to the rest of the world.”

The full 4:15 minute video was published on YouTube here on Feb. 29, 2020. Almost a month earlier, the World Health Organization had declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international health emergency ( here ).

In the description of the video, the creator, Max Patrick Schlienger, who identifies himself on social media as “RamsesThePigeon” ( ) said that he “threw this together because I wanted to have a video upload on February 29th” and that the clip features “archival and public domain footage”.

In a Reddit entry from Oct. 6, 2020 ( here ), the creator further explained that the “satirical piece” was intended to “to lampoon the anti-science perspectives which were arising at the time”.

Schlienger told Reuters via email he was “a little bit disheartened” that his work was still being used for dishonest purposes. “My hope is that it’s nonetheless entertaining people and hopefully doing some good” he said.

Reuters has debunked other social media posts that claimed the COVID-19 pandemic was “predicted” ( here , here , here , here ).


False. A 1956 video did not predict the COVID-19 outbreak. The compilation of footage was created in 2020 and was intended as satire.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here .