Fact Check-Document shared on social media is not a leaked Imperial College memo

Refile to correct typo in paragraph 13

A memorandum carrying the subject line: “Next Steps - Permanent Lockdown of the UK” is being shared by some users of social media and messaging apps. The document, which purports to be an “Imperial College Memo” describing a secretive plan to invent new coronavirus variants, is an “obvious fake” according to the London university.

The memo is dated June 14th, 2021, and is addressed to the UK Government’s Chief Medical Officers and Chief Scientific Adviser, among others. The sender is said to be the British epidemiologist Neil Ferguson of Imperial College.

In a June 18 statement on its website (here), Imperial College said the document was not written by Neil Ferguson. "This totally untrue piece of disinformation was constructed and spread by extremists and has no association with Imperial College London, the UK government, or its scientific advisors," it said.

“Although most readers recognise that this ‘memo’ is an obvious fake, some have sought to share it widely and some have threatened and abused Imperial staff.”

The UK Department of Health was not immediately available for comment.

Little indication was given by those sharing the posts as to how the supposedly leaked document had been obtained. Some earlier shares of the content linked to a thread on the internet forum 4chan which is no longer visible.

The memo begins by suggesting that the recipients of the message have a short window of opportunity to finalise the “next steps of the process”. It says: “In short, this will be moving towards a permanent lockdown of the country from Thursday 15th July, with the reasons for doing so being a spike in the new Indian and Nepal ‘variants’ of ‘the virus’ (which as we know is just a re-branding of Hay Fever)”.

The Indian variant, named the Delta variant by the World Health Organization in May (here), is not the same as hay fever. It is a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is becoming the globally dominant variant, according to the World Health Organization's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan (here).

Also referred to as the B.1.617.2 lineage, the variant has been detected by scientists across the world (here) who are able to identify it by examination of the spike protein characteristics it displays (here).

A Public Health England briefing note published on June 11 recorded 42 deaths in England due to the Delta variant up to June 7, 2021 (here, pdf).

The ‘Nepal mutation’, which was referenced by the UK’s transport secretary Grant Schapps earlier this month (, is actually a further mutation of the Delta variant, as explained by Sally Cutler, Professor in Medical Microbiology at the University of East London in a piece for The Conversation ( here).

The memo goes on to suggest that the scientists could ‘model’ increases of the variants around anti-lockdown protests, Euro 2020 matches (incorrectly referred to in the memo as “Euro 2021 matches”) and summer hotspots. However, the spread of the Delta variant is already being tracked by the UK government (, using genome sequencing as well as genotype PCR testing, and the figures at local authority level do not appear to follow this proposed pattern of distribution.

According to the memo writer, the pandemic lockdowns are part of a wider plan to control a nation, and would be followed by water scarcity, food shortage and global finance-based restrictions. It references a joint global plan by the UN, WHO and WEF, suggesting that COVID-19 is an orchestrated health crisis. Reuters Fact Check has reviewed such claims before, finding that there is no credible evidence the pandemic was planned (here).


False. A memo describing a plan to deceive the public with bogus new coronavirus variants is a fake, Imperial College says. A central claim in the memo, that hay fever is being misdiagnosed as the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, is not backed by scientific evidence.