Talk about turning around what happened with a twister. On Wednesday, a tornado hit the Pfizer plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and severely damaged it. Since this facility produces about 25% of all their sterile injectable products for US hospitals, this could mean more product shortages in this country. But there has been no shortage of conjecture, conspiracy theories and misinformation surrounding this event since then.
The tornado only hit the Pfizer plant. It also affected a number of other houses and properties including a day care centre, as follows CBS 17 reported news item:
Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported. As the winds subsided, the affected neighborhoods began cleaning up the mess left behind.
But there was still a lot of spinning happening on social media—spinning as it were to throw around claims about what really happened in North Carolina. One conspiracy theory was that this wasn’t even a natural event, and instead was a human-planned event through some form of weather manipulation. For example, posted on Instagram on July 19 posted a video of the resulting destruction and said, “Hypothetically… if ‘they’ have the ability to manipulate frequency a la DARPA and HAARP to control the weather, and *hypothetically* if the good guys are there, do you believe those good guys have the same abilities? If the bad guys can seed clouds, can the good guys create tornados?” Um, what is it? What’s with the “hypothetically” with the asterisks around it? And who exactly are “they”?
If you’re wondering why “they” would even want to plan for a tornado, this post seemed to have an answer in the form of a question, even thought this wasn’t the danger zone! The post asked, “Is this just an insurance claim for big pharmacies?”
OK, let’s get this straight. “They,” whoever “they” might be, went through all the trouble of creating a tornado and causing all that destruction—including a daycare center—just to get some sort of insurance claim? Is it even humanely possible to create a tornado of that size, one that achieved an Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF) 3 with winds up to 150 mph? After all, “they” aren’t Storm, you know that character from the X-Men, who is fictional by the way. You might be able to create a small tornado in your toilet. But that’s not the same as creating a tornado like the one seen in North Carolina.
Others have claimed that this Pfizer plant was actually a Covid-19 vaccine warehouse – because you figured someone would try to work Covid-19 vaccines into the story somehow. For example, on Twitter, Erin Elizabeth – whose biography “NYTimes & WashPo call me a conspiracy theorist” – post the following claim: “BREAKING: A Pfizer Warehouse stocked with COVID-19 vaccines was just destroyed by a tornado in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina.”
There was a problem with this claim, however. In her tweet, Elizabeth – who It has been recognized by the Center for Anti-Digital Awards as one of the twelve leading online anti-vaxxers, known as “The Disinformation Dozen”—there was no source to support such a claim. The two tom norton free, News Week and Angelo Fichera for tea AP ended up debunking Elizabeth’s claim, reporting that this was not a storage facility for Covid-19 vaccines but instead a manufacturing plant for anesthetics and anti-infectives to treat things like fungal infections.
However, if you look at the responses to Elizabeth’s tweet, you will find a whirlwind of claims. Some even tried to break the wind, so to speak, by declaring that, rather than a tornado, what hit Pfizer was some kind of energy weapon. And why would such an energy weapon be aimed at the Pfizer plant. To destroy the “evidence,” of course. Or at least that’s what one of these unknown social media accounts was pushing.
While the tornado damage appears to have resulted in some unrealistic claims, it can lead to some real problems. With Pfizer having a significant market share of sterile injectable products for US hospitals, the lost stock could lead to a shortage of such products. This further highlights a recurring problem during the pandemic, heavy reliance and potential over-reliance on one or several manufacturers. Accidents and acts of nature happen. Product supply chains, especially medicinal product supply chains, must have a sufficiently diverse set of suppliers so that there is enough redundancy in the system when accidents or acts of nature occur to maintain sufficient supply. Otherwise, this could leave many patients and consumers in the lurch.