How were the “Omicron Variant” books published so quickly?

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In December 2021, several social media users Express confusion and skepticism about a series of books published on Amazon about the new omicron COVID-19 variant. How was it possible, these people wondered, for someone to research, write and publish a book on a strain of COVID-19 that had been discovered days or weeks earlier.

Other social media users commented:

How can there be so many books that know all about the #Omicron variant when we only found out about 2 weeks ago?


Amazing how there are 30 books available on Amazon on the Omicron variant when it was called on November 26th, this one in particular was released on that date… ..almost as expected


Go to Amazon and search for “Understanding Omicron Variant” Can you say scam?

There really are a number of books on Amazon on the omicron variant that were published a few days after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the new strain had been identified. This is not proof that the pandemic was “planned” or that it is a “scam”. Rather, it’s proof how quick and easy it is to self-publish a book on Amazon.

Just because a book exists on Amazon doesn’t mean its content is worth reading

Self-published authors can submit their books to Amazon in as little as 5 minutes and can see their books on sale the next day.

The social media users cited above expressed skepticism that a book on something as complicated as the omicron variant could be researched, written, and edited in just a matter of days. This skepticism is rightfully placed. The omicron variant books on Amazon that were released in December 2021 likely haven’t undergone rigorous research, writing, or editing.

Unlike a scholarly journal where material has to go through peer review, anyone can self-publish just about anything on Amazon. The material can contain an infinite amount of typos (no editing), the content does not need to be factual (no research), and in some cases the text can be artificially generated or plagiarized (not writing). In other words, just because a book exists on Amazon doesn’t mean its content is worth reading.

Amazon has been inundated with self-published books since the start of the pandemic

In March 2020, around the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon was inundated with self-published books on the disease. These books were poorly assembled and often contained plagiarized content. The Guardian reported:

As the coronavirus spreads around the world, it’s not just medical professionals and politicians who are busy. Amazon has been inundated with poorly designed and often plagiarized “guides” to tackle the virus.

The retail giant has already removed “tens of thousands” of ads from “bad actors” attempting to artificially raise the prices of items such as face masks and hand sanitizers. Now he’s fighting a losing battle against writers rushing to self-published books to profit from coronavirus fears. Typically under 100 pages, dozens have been posted in recent weeks, promising concerned readers ways to prevent or avoid the virus.

On Amazon.co.uk Thursday morning, the best results for the coronavirus books included Corbi Yang’s coronavirus, which promised to answer “how this virus was identified and what action has been taken so far.” Spanning 44 pages, much of the writing was pulled directly from web pages.

Omicron Variant Book Released in 2020?

While social media users were skeptical of the surge of books published on Amazon on the omicron variant, one title gained particular attention. According to social media posts, a book by “Dr. Teresa Bishop” titled “UNDERSTANDING THE OMICRON VARIANT: Everything You Need to Know About the Omicron Variant, Where It Comes From, Answers to Questions You Have and many more updates to keep you well informed ”was copyrighted in 2020, almost a year before the omicron variant emerged.

How was that possible? How was a book about the omicron variant copyrighted before the emergence of the omicron variant? We have contacted Amazon for details on this title and will update this article if more information is available. So far, here’s what we know:

  • This book was not published on Amazon (or elsewhere) until December 5, 2021, 7 days AFTER the announcement of the omicron variant by the WHO.
  • While the author of the book claims to have “conducted numerous studies on the covid19 virus”, we were unable to find any studies published under this author’s name.
  • The book does not contain any references or quotes to indicate how he knows what he claims to know.
  • The book is poorly written, with typos, repetitive phrases, and seemingly absurd phrases.
  • We were unable to find this book in the International Standard Book Number database or the Copyright Public Records Portal.
  • Bishop published three books (two on omicron, one on sleep deprivation) in December 2021.

This title is no longer available on Amazon. A few days after the deletion of this book, Bishop published a book with a similar title “UNDERSTANDING OMICRON VARIANT: Everything You Need To Know About Omicron Variant, Where It Comes From, Answers To Questions You Have, And Lots More Update To Keep You Well Informed Kindle Edition. ”This book claims a copyright date of 2021.

Sources:

“As the coronavirus spreads, hastily produced books capitalize on fear. Undark Magazine, March 6, 2020, https://undark.org/2020/03/06/coronavirus-books-amazon-outbreak/.

Flood, Alison. “Amazon inundated with self-published books on the coronavirus.” The Guardian, March 12, 2020. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/12/amazon-flooded-with-self-published-coronavirus-books.

Matsakis, Louise. “Amazon is quietly removing some questionable coronavirus books.” Wired. www.wired.com, https://www.wired.com/story/amazon-quietly-removes-coronavirus-books/. Accessed December 21, 2021.

“The self-published book on Omicron was not copyrighted before the variant was discovered.” Politifact, https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2021/dec/20/facebook-posts/self-published-book-omicron-was-not-copyrighted-va/. Accessed December 21, 2021.

Update on Omicron. https://www.who.int/news/item/28-11-2021-update-on-omicron. Accessed December 21, 2021.



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