Fact Check

Is This Train Car Carrying 'COVID-19'?

It's puzzling why more conspirators aren't caught when they operate so brazenly.

Published Mar 14, 2020

A photograph shows a railroad tank car identified as carrying 'COVID-19.'

The COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic of early 2020 -- as all such outbreaks do -- generated conspiracy theories that the virus was man-made, and even possibly deliberately released onto a defenseless population. The following examples provide just a small sampling of theories that followed in the wake of the disease's spread:

Obama sold the virus to Chinese president Xi Jinping during his administration, as Jinping wanted to "experiment" with it. Obama would have HAD to know about it, as he would have had to sign the paperwork allowing such a lethal virus to leave the USA.

This is a custom-designed virus that only attacks humans (as no animals or other living things have been affected) ... intended for the sole reason of "thinning the herd" so the Illuminati can further their cause(s).

The coronavirus was designed virus by the Chinese to destroy ONLY humans, solely to be used on the USA for its complete takeover. And it either it got out of control on human test subjects, or it was tested in a Chinese populous and got out of control.

One popular social media post of mid-March 2020 played on such conspiracy theories by purporting to show a railroad tank car with the designation COVID-19 stenciled on its side, as if it were carrying a load of the disease-causing virus:

In the U.S., railroad cars bear reporting marks assigned by the Association of American Railroads which consist of two to four letters followed by a number of up to six digits and indicate ownership of the car, as shown in the following example:


Clearly, 'COVID-19' is not a designation that conforms to any legitimate reporting mark, nor to any other standard form of marking or identification one would expect to find on a railroad tank car:

And of course, if some entity were actually engaged in a conspiratorial, furtive spreading of a disease-causing virus, they'd be storing it in special containers packed in unmarked crates and loaded onto ordinary boxcars, not transporting it via plainly labeled tank cars.

Most obviously, a tank car labeled 'COVID-19' makes no sense, as COVID-19 is not a term that identifies a virus or any other physical thing that can be carried. COVID-19 is the name of the coronavirus disease caused by a particular virus, so a tank car marked to display that it was carrying 'COVID-19' would be akin to a package bearing a label indicating that it contained 'DIABETES.' In furtherance of an alleged conspiracy to spread the COVID-19 illness, the tank car would carrying not COVID-19 but the virus known as “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2," or SARS-CoV-2 for short.

All in all, this image is a mildly amusing digital manipulation, but nothing more.


McGonigal, Robert S.   "Understanding Railroad Reporting Marks."     Trains.com.   1 May 2006.

World Health Organization.   "Naming the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the Virus That Causes It."     Accessed 14 March 2020.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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