False information and fake news have accompanied the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus since the time it was first encountered in December last year. The recent conspiracy theory about COVID-19 is that it is man-made; created in a lab as a bioweapon in China by the Chinese scientist Deyin Guo. A GNews post said,
“More and more people including international bio-weapon experts are questioning its link to the Wuhan P4 lab located about 20 miles from a seafood market where the first few cases of human infections were found.”
Another article in Natural News reads, “Every virology lab in the world that has run a genomic analysis of the coronavirus now knows that the coronavirus was engineered by human scientists. The proof is in the virus itself: The tools for genetic insertion are still present as remnants in the genetic code. Since these unique gene sequences don’t occur by random chance, they’re proof that this virus was engineered by scientists in a lab.”
The claim soon started floating around social media in a series of tweets.
"BIOLOGICAL WEAPON GONE OUT OF CONTROL"#coronavirus may have started as bioweapon in Super Lab located in Wuhan.— Nancy (@NanC3) February 12, 2020
New conclusive evidence shows it did not start in food market, but was stolen from Canadian lab in July 2019.https://t.co/87nhQOQRCP pic.twitter.com/JFT1Zial31
Fact-checking website PolitiFact has debunked this claim on multiple levels by analyzing the research available on the source of the virus.
- No scientific evidence exists to assert that the coronavirus was created in a lab. According to the WHO, “Both Chinese and external expert groups are working in trying to identify the animal source of this new virus.”
- The report talks of increasing evidence that links the novel virus to other similar known viruses circulating in bats, but the route of transmission to humans remains unclear — the most probable explanation being an intermediary host animal. The CDC has also said that the virus appeared to have originated at a seafood and animal market in Wuhan, and then further got transmitted via humans.
- Another study by The Lancet studies the genetic sequence of the virus and again confirms the animal link, reporting that it is a human betacoronavirus similar to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), most probably coming from bats.
“On the basis of current data, it seems likely that the 2019-nCoV causing the Wuhan outbreak might also be initially hosted by bats, and might have been transmitted to humans via currently unknown wild animal(s) sold at the Huanan seafood market,” The Lancet said.
Further, the PolitiFact report mentions that there is most definitely a ‘maximum security biolab’ near Wuhan, perhaps the ‘Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory’, that deals with ‘dangerous pathogens’, but there is no proof of relating this to the origins of the coronavirus.
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