Fact Check

Was the COVID-19 Pandemic Planned in Rockefeller's 'Operation Lockstep'?

Diabolical plans for world domination aren't normally posted as readily available PDFs, even back in 2010.

Published July 21, 2020

A screenshot of the Rockefeller Foundation's "Scenarios for the Future of Technology."
A screenshot of the Rockefeller Foundation's "Scenarios for the Future of Technology."
The COVID-19 pandemic was planned by the Rockefeller Foundation in "Operation Lockstep."

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In July 2020, several social media users started posting about "Operation Lockstep," a document allegedly released by The Rockefeller Foundation that showed how global elites had planned to manufacture the COVID-19 pandemic for the last 10 years in order to implement a police state:

Like most conspiracy theories, "Operation Lockstep" is based on a small grain of truth: In 2010, the Rockefeller Foundation funded a scenario-planning exercise that envisioned how hypothetical future events could impact the development of technology. This document, however, does not provide any sort of "operation manual" for how to manufacture a global pandemic. Rather, it envisions how the world would be impacted in four different scenarios (including a global pandemic).

When we look at this rumor a little closer, it becomes clear that what is being called "Operation Lockstep" has very few similarities to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that much of the fear about this document was manufactured by purveyors of misinformation.

What Is "Operation Lockstep: From the Rockefeller Playbook"? It Doesn't Exist.

For starters, the above-displayed image entitled "Operation Lockstep: From the Rockefeller Playbook" is presented as if it shows a screenshot from a document published by The Rockefeller Foundation. However, there is no document called "Operation Lockstep," and this image did not come from a "Rockefeller Playbook." Those spreading this rumor have linked "Operation Lockstep" to a report entitled "Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development" that was published by The Rockefeller Foundation in 2010.

The "Scenarios for the Future of Technology" document envisions four scenario narratives, only one of which, dubbed "Lock Step," deals with a global pandemic. The text in the above-displayed image, "1st Phase: Common cold/flu. Mild symptoms at most. Media endorsement of mass paranoia and fear. Flawed testing system utilized, which picks up any genetic material in the body and triggers a positive result. Inflation of Covid case numbers, through changing of death certificates, double-counting, and classifying all deaths including other disease and natural causes as COVID19. Lockdown will condition us to life under Draconian laws, prevent protests and identify public resistance," etc., does not appear anywhere in this document. In fact, nowhere in the "Lock Step" section of "Scenarios for the Future of Technology" is the word "COVID" even mentioned.

Does the Quote "Under the Guise of a Pandemic, We Will Create a Prison State" Come from the Rockefeller Foundation? No.

Rumors about "Operation Lockstep" are often shared on social media along with the quote: "Under the guise of a pandemic, we will create a prison state." Again, this quote does not appear anywhere in the actual document from the Rockefeller Foundation. This quote appears to come from the Wordpress blog envirowatchrangitikei's faulty interpretation of the "Scenarios for the Future of Technology" document. While the Rockefeller Foundation did envision a world where governments implemented stricter rules to combat the pandemic (including the mandatory requirement to wear face masks), they did not warn about a "prison state."

More importantly, however, the genuine report from The Rockefeller Foundation did not envision a future in which world leaders manufactured a pandemic to implement a prison state. A section of this document envisions how global leaders would react to a real pandemic, not how they would create a fake one.

What Are the Similarities Between "Operation Lockstep" and COVID-19? Few and Far Between.

While the "Lock Step" section of the actual document does deal with a global pandemic, the similarities between The Rockefeller Foundation's envisioned scenario and the current COVID-19 crisis are few and far between. For instance, the hypothetical pandemic envisioned by foundation started in 2012, originated in wild geese, and killed 8 million people in the first 7 months. Comparatively speaking, the COVID-19 pandemic began at the end of 2019, is widely believed to have originated with bats, and, according to John Hopkins University (as of this writing in July 2020) has killed just over 600,000 people within an approximate 7 month time-span.

The "Lock Step" scenario also envisioned that the majority of deaths during this hypothetical global pandemic would take places like Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America. As of this writing, the most deaths from COVID-19 — about 140,000 — have taken place in the United States.

A video report from news outlet WUSA9 on the differences and similarities between this rumor and the actual document from The Rockefeller Foundation can be viewed here.

Why Did the Rockefeller Foundation Produce "The Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development" Report? To Better Prepare for the Future.

This rumor is based on a 2010 report published by The Rockefeller Foundation entitled "Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development." This document does not detail an "operation" in a "playbook" detailing how global elites can manufacture a pandemic and implement a prison state. Rather, this document explores the possible outcomes of four different scenarios.

Judith Rodin, the President of the Rockefeller Foundation, explained the purpose of this document in an introductory letter:

One important - and novel - component of our strategy toolkit is scenario planning, a process of creating narratives about the future based on factors likely to affect a particular set of challengers and opportunities. We believe that scenario planning has great potential for use in philanthropy to identify unique interventions, simulate and rehearse important decisions that could have profound implications, and highlight previously undiscovered areas of connection and intersection. Most important, by providing a methodological structure that helps us focus on what we don't know - instead of what we already know - scenario planning allows us to achieve impact more effectively.

The result of our first scenario planning exercise demonstrate a provocative and engaging exploration of the role of technology and the future of globalization, as you will see in the following pages. This report is crucial reading for anyone interested in creatively considering the multiple, divergent ways in which our world could evolve.

Our Conclusion

In 2010, The Rockefeller Foundation produced a report entitled "Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development" that envisioned how the world would be impacted in four different scenario narratives — one of which dealt with a global pandemic. This document gives a hypothetical look at future events in order to envision possible problems that might arise. While this document does explore how the global population could react during a pandemic, it is in no way an "operation manual" for how to manufacture a virus in order to implement a police state.


Kew, Janice; Lauerman, John.   "The Coronavirus Originated in Bats and Can Infect Cats, WHO Scientist Says."     Time.   8 May 2020.

Puckett, Jason; Tregde, David; Spry, Terry.   "VERIFY: 'Rockefeller Document' Doesn't Prove Theory Coronavirus Pandemic Was Planned in 2010."     WUSA9.   15 July 2020.

Vernon, Pam.   "Under the Guise of a Pandemic, We Will Create a Prison State" the Rockefeller Foundation's Documented Plan for Martial Law... Operation Lockstep."     24 May 2020.

Rockefeller Foundation.   "Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development."     2010.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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