CLAIM: The letters in COVID-19 stand for “certificate of vaccination identification” and 19 stands for “AI,” or artificial intelligence.

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FILE - In this Tuesday, March 31, 2020 file photo, a woman walks past a sign in Mexico City that translates in English to, "COVID=19. The challenge is not to get it and not spread it. Stay home." On Friday, May 22, 2020, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting the letters in COVID-19 stand for certificate of vaccination identification and 19 stands for AI, artificial intelligence. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

THE FACTS: COVID-19 stands for “coronavirus disease 2019,” according to the World Health Organization, which named it in February.

A Facebook post with more than 21,000 views claims the name “COVID” is an acronym for “certificate of vaccination identification,” a reference to a potential future vaccine for the coronavirus and a digital certificate indicating someone has been vaccinated. The post also suggests the ‘19’ in COVID-19 stands for the first and ninth letters of the alphabet, A and I, representing the words “artificial intelligence.”

The post references Bill Gates’ assertions that in the future, there may be digital certificates to track who has been tested or vaccinated for the coronavirus. Gates did say in a March 18 Reddit forum that “eventually we will have some digital certificates” for this purpose. But social media posts have taken this statement out of context and claimed Gates wishes to implant microchips in humans or use digital tools around the coronavirus to increase surveillance of humans. There is no evidence Gates has any interest in using a digital certificate of vaccination to monitor the public.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told the AP in an email the idea of digital certificates “relates to efforts to create an open source digital platform with the goal of expanding access to safe, home-based testing” for the virus. False claims similar to these have circulated on social media platforms since the WHO introduced the name COVID-19 for the disease caused by the coronavirus earlier this year. Dozens of posts online have falsely claimed the acronym stands for “Chinese Originated Viral Infectious Disease” or “Certificate of Vaccination Identification by Artificial Intelligence.” There is no evidence for any of these claims.

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