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The claim: COVID-19 is part of ‘Operation Lockstep’ from ‘The Rockefeller Playbook’

What is ‘Operation Lockstep’?

While “The Rockefeller Playbook” does not exist, the planning report released by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2010, “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development,” includes a section called “Lock Step.”

The report describes a series of scenarios — including a pandemic — in which technology could be used to help to restore humanity.

“The Rockefeller Foundation believes that in order to understand the many ways in which technology will impact international development in the future, we must first broaden and deepen our individual and collective understanding of the range of possibilities. This report, and the project upon which it is based, is one attempt to do that,” reads an excerpt from the report.

The “Lock Step” section outlines a scenario of authoritarian control in the wake of a “hypothetical” novel influenza pandemic similar to COVID-19.

“Lock Step” envisions “a world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback,” according to the report.

In this world, 20% of the global population was infected with the novel virus and 8 million people were killed in seven months.

One excerpt is eerily reminiscent of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic: “The pandemic blanketed the planet — though disproportionate numbers died in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America, where the virus spread like wildfire in the absence of official containment protocols.”

In reality, disproportionate numbers of deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in North America (United States), Brazil (South America) and India (South Asia), according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. More than 720,000 of over 1.9 million deaths happened in these countries.

Another excerpt on the “mandatory wearing of face masks” and “body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces like train stations and supermarkets” parallels ongoing practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

But the “novel coronavirus” is not mentioned anywhere in the Rockefeller Foundation’s report.

While the “Lock Step” scenario describes a continuation of authoritarian policies after the pandemic “fades,” there is “no reference to a plot to introduce a new virus into the population if a majority of people resist getting vaccinated against COVID-19, as the claims stated”.

“Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development” does “not present evidence of an elite conspiracy to incite worldwide anarchy through COVID-19”.

“The Rockefeller Playbook” and “Operation Lockstep” “do not exist”.

The claim borrows scenarios from “Lock Step,” a section of “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development,” a report published by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The report “makes no reference” to COVID-19, a vaccine against the disease or plans to introduce a police state during a pandemic.

Fact-check sources:

  • Snopes, July 21, 2020: “Was the COVID-19 Pandemic Planned in Rockefeller’s ‘Operation Lockstep’?”
  • The Rockefeller Foundation, May 2010, “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development”
  • Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, accessed Jan. 9: “COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)”
  • YouTube, accessed Jan. 9: “Global Watchmen News”
  • USA TODAY, Oct. 8, 2020: “Fact check: Viral post that claims COVID-19 is a fraud cites no evidence”
  • WUSA9, July 15, 2020: “VERIFY: ‘Rockefeller document’ doesn’t prove theory coronavirus pandemic was planned in 2010”
  • The Rockefeller Foundation, accessed Jan. 12: “About US”
  •, accessed Jan. 14: “Ralph Epperson”
  • Internet Archive, accessed Jan. 14: “The New World Order by Ralph A. Epperson”


Excerpts from “Innovating for a Bold Future”

  • Zia Khan — Senior Vice President, Innovation, The Rockefeller Foundation

In 2009, The Rockefeller Foundation conducted an exercise to explore the future of technology in development and identify ways to better respond to emerging challenges.

The results were captured in a report that includes several plausible scenarios that could impact millions of people around the world.

One such scenario, “Lockstep,” described a fictional pandemic that would infect 20% of the world in 2012, killing eight million people in just seven months.

Now that we’re well into a real pandemic, we see some chilling similarities between our current Zoom-centered world and Lockstep.

The report predicted that telepresence technologies would “respond to the demand for less-expensive, lower bandwidth, sophisticated communications systems for populations whose travel is restricted.” Other predictions were off, including the emergence of MRI technologies to detect abnormal behavior with anti-social intent.

While “baseless posts” have circulated recently calling the exercise part of a “diabolical plan for world domination,” we see it as further evidence of the importance of scenario planning in helping governments, institutions and others navigate near-term decisions that can have long-term impact. Our hope then – as it is now – was to focus on what we don’t know so we could make better plans to address a real pandemic, such as the one we’re facing today.

That’s why The Rockefeller Foundation is again making big bets on the future to ensure a more equitable return to ‘normal’ for all. As we’ve done several times over the past 100+ years, we’re pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to address some of the greatest challenges of our time.

One way we’re doing that is by reimagining how we grow, access and consume food. Through our Food System Vision Prize we’re developing a vision for a regenerative and nourishing food system that can deliver sustainable, healthy diets for people and the planet by 2050.

To get there – or any reimagined future for that matter – we’re taking bold steps to bridge the gap between today and our vision for tomorrow. We’re exploring how disruptive technologies – like artificial intelligence – can help reset the future, while leveraging our network of experts through our 17 Rooms partnership with The Brookings Institution to catalyze paradigm shifts for a “Great Reset” that help accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and beyond.

Source: Zia Khan — Senior Vice President, Innovation, The Rockefeller Foundation – Innovating for a Bold Future

Event 201

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY.

The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during “the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences.”

Excerpts: Statement about nCoV

Statement about nCoV and our pandemic exercise

In October 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security hosted a pandemic tabletop exercise called Event 201 with partners, the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Recently, the Center for Health Security has received questions about whether that pandemic exercise predicted the current novel coronavirus outbreak in China.

To be clear, the Center for Health Security and partners did not make a prediction during our tabletop exercise. For the scenario, we modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction. Instead, the exercise served to highlight preparedness and response challenges that would likely arise in a very severe pandemic.

We are not now predicting that the nCoV-2019 outbreak will kill 65 million people.

Although our tabletop exercise included a mock novel coronavirus, the inputs we used for modeling the potential impact of that fictional virus are not similar to nCoV-2019.

Source: John Hopkins – Bloomberg School of Public Health