In the age of social media, the danger posed by the Coronavirus is multiplied as disinformation, often posing as expert knowledge, is shared and believed without a second thought. Case in point: This recent tweet from PETA:

This is the latest instance of PETA attempting to connect a catastrophe to eating habits. It’s not just PETA either; several websites and celebrities, including disgraced music mogul Russel Simmons, have echoed the same sentiment. The rumor-mongering even caused the fact-checker PolitiFact to weigh in.

PETA claims that the Coronavirus wouldn’t exist if everyone was vegan. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Coronavirus is a zoonotic disease (zoonoses); meaning it’s caused by germs spread between animals and humans. You can catch zoonoses by touching live animals, being in an animal’s habitat, bug bites, and a few other ways. This disease and many others would exist if everyone was vegan.

Historically, zoonoses haven’t come from eating meat. Ebola most likely spawned from patient zero, a two-year-old, putting an object in her mouth that was contaminated with bat droppings. MERS was spread via live contact with camels. In the case of Covid-19, it is believed that interactions with an animal at a “wet” market in China caused the outbreak. “Wet” markets are marketplaces in Asia where live fish, meat, and produce are sold. No scientist has concluded the Coronavirus sprouted from anyone actually eating meat–after all, pathogens in meat are killed during the proper cooking process. (That said, it’s fair to wonder about animal handling and other regulations at Chinese live markets.)

Unfortunately, the animal rights activists’ disinformation doesn’t stop there. Recently, in a PETA tirade about the use of animal models in the development of medicine. The organization touted how one of several organizations developing a Coronavirus vaccine didn’t use clinical trials that involve animals. But the animal rights group failed to mention a few important details.

Moderna, the lab developing the vaccine, has previously used animal models to develop similar mRNA vaccines in the past. Additionally, Moderna is still conducting animal trials in tandem with human ones. Many in the scientific community find it important to use lab animals to avoid disease enhancement, a situation in which you are more severely affected by a virus if you have received a vaccine for it.  According to one expert we spoke with, “From a safety perspective [not using animal trials] could hurt people. From an efficacy perspective, it could not fully wipe out the virus and leave the patient even more vulnerable than before with re-occurrence.”

When it comes to a situation as serious as the Coronavirus pandemic it is best to trust actual doctors, not vegan extremists who opportunistically spin current events to push their ideology.