The media, health officials, and Big Tech have been quick to condemn COVID-19 “misinformation” or conspiracy theories.

They’ve censored social media posts and banned users, from high-profile lawmakers to your grandmother. They’ve locked down the country, shuttered businesses and churches, arrested pastors, ordered the masking of children for years, and fired essential workers over resisting mandated vaccinations. All for the sake of “slowing the spread” of the coronavirus pandemic. 

We now know that we have been lied to by the very people who claimed to be protecting us, and we have been lied to repeatedly. So, let’s take a look at just a few of the COVID-19 conspiracy theories that weren’t: 10 times that media, health officials, or our very own president were proven to have lied about the coronavirus pandemic. 

1. 15 Days to Slow Spread

Experts and health officials promised in March 2020 that we needed just “15 days to slow the spread.” Almost two years later, we’ve seen almost 700 days of mandates, lockdowns, quarantines, shaming, hysteria, and travel restrictions—with no stated end in sight.

2. Face Masks 

During the early days of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that Americans not wear face masks and the U.S. surgeon general urged us to stop buying masks. But in April 2020, the CDC said that all Americans should wear face coverings to avoid transmission of the virus, leading to culture wars over mask mandates across the country, heavy shaming of those who chose not to wear masks, and viral videos of often violent confrontations between Americans (and that’s not even touching the mask situation with children). Then, the CDC said in May that vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks in almost any setting, and now most media outlets are reporting that cloth masks just don’t work and that we should try N95s.

3. Vaccine Mandates 

In December 2020, President-elect Joe Biden promised that he would not force Americans to be vaccinated. But this year, the Biden administration did exactly what Biden said they wouldn’t do and mandated that health care workers and workers at U.S. companies with more than 100 employees get vaccinated. The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from enforcing the mandate on businesses and organizations—but health care workers who choose not to get vaccinated will still lose their jobs. And now that Americans are seeing that the vaccinations don’t fully stop COVID-19, more and more questions are being asked about why Biden is mandating vaccines.

4. Lab Leak Theory

Remember when we were all told that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese wet market? Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., was lambasted by the media for suggesting the coronavirus actually originated in an infectious disease lab rather than an animal market as the Chinese government claimed. Snopes called Cotton’s claims “speculative,” the BBC called them “unfounded,” and The Washington Post went so far as to say that the lab leak theory was “debunked.” After New York magazine published an expose highlighting the legitimacy of the theory, many of those media outlets published stories confirming the legitimacy of the lab leak theory. Now we know that scientists consulting with the U.S. government early in the pandemic believed that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan lab—but Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins worked to shut that hypothesis down. 

5. Kids Should Go Remote, Schools Should Close  

Activists, commentators, and teachers unions argued throughout 2020 and 2021 that schools should close out of fear of spreading coronavirus cases from child to child and from child to teacher—though multiple studies suggest that COVID-19 does not easily spread among children and being in school settings didn’t create outbreaks. One commentator in an Atlantic piece suggested that school closures could result in “flexible, adaptable, and resilient” kids, sparking heavy backlash from conservatives. Now, after months and even years of children missing school, even The New York Times is publishing stories warning that closing schools would be a “tragic mistake,” recognizing that “hospitalization and death is uncommon in children.” 

6. Vaccines Will End COVID-19  

We were repeatedly promised by Biden, Fauci, and many others that Americans who got vaccinated would not get COVID-19. Biden said, “You’re not going to get COVID if you get vaccinated.” Fauci said, “When people are vaccinated, they can feel safe that they are not going to get infected.” Now, as we see many vaccinated people continuing to get COVID-19, we know for a fact that this isn’t true. Vaccinated Americans can still get COVID-19, though their symptoms are usually less severe, and they are less likely to die from the virus. As Fauci said in January, “Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody.” 

7. Vaccines Don’t Affect Menstrual Health  

Many American women expressed concerns early on about how vaccines would affect their fertility, complaining on social media that their menstrual cycle had changed since getting the vaccine. Media and health officials repeatedly assured the public that there was no evidence to suggest COVID-19 vaccines negatively affect fertility—until January 2022, when a new study found that women had an average menstrual cycle length of about one day longer than usual after getting vaccinated. Health officials say the change is small and temporary, noting that plenty of vaccinated women have gotten pregnant. But many women have criticized media dismissals of their concerns, saying they deserve real answers from medical professionals about how the vaccine affects their fertility.

8. No Masks After Vaccines 

We were promised that vaccinations would end COVID-19 and that Americans would no longer have to mask after they were vaccinated. But the CDC changed its mask guidance when it found in July 2021 that vaccinated people could still get the COVID-19 delta variant. And across the country, left-wing politicians like D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser continue to mandate masks for indoor businesses and events.

9. Fauci Didn’t Fund Gain-of-Function Research  

Fauci has repeatedly denied that agencies under his direction engaged in gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The media called pushback on this claim from people like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., “misinformation,” but a high-ranking National Institutes of Health officer admitted in an Oct. 20 letter that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had failed to immediately notify that it had engaged in what sure looks a lot like gain-of-function research, creating a lab-generated chimeric coronavirus between June 2018 and May 2019 that tested more deadly on mice with humanized cells than the natural virus it was made from. And the same day that the NIH officer sent that letter, the NIH edited its definition of gain-of-function. 

10. ‘Pandemic of Unvaccinated’  

Biden and Fauci have repeatedly blamed the unvaccinated for “propagating” outbreaks of the coronavirus delta and omicron variants. As recently as Jan. 13, Biden said that “this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” ignoring the many, many vaccinated Americans who have contracted COVID-19 as of late.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.