With all the information surrounding the coronavirus many might find it difficult to make sense of what is happening in the world right now.
The Coronavirus Disease, also known as COVID-19, is caused by a new virus called SARS-CoV-2. That we know.
Where did it come from? That, we do not know.
There has been so much conjecture on the origin of COVID-19 posted by less than reputable news outlets such as The Washington Times and The Daily Mail. One theory which went viral was that the coronavirus was made in a laboratory with the intention to be used as a biological weapon; an infectious bacteria, insect, fungi or virus used to kill your enemy.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton appeared on Fox News to discuss the theory that COVID-19 may have be developed in a Wuhan, China laboratory. He admitted “We don’t have evidence that this disease originated there.”
But Cotton continued to cast doubt on the evidence by suggesting that is it not a coincidence that “China’s only Bio Safety Level Four Super Laboratory that researches human infectious disease” is only a few miles from the Wuhan Animal Market, a popular wet market that sells live meat, fish and produce and was previously suggested to be the origin site of the virus.
Cotton was not alone in spreading this theory.
On Jan 26, The Washington Times ran an article with the headline: “Coronavirus may have originated in lab linked to China’s biowarfare program”. On March 25th the paper issued a correction to their story, but the headline remains the same.
Scientists, however, do not agree with Senator Cotton or The Washington Times.
Infectious disease expert Kristian G. Anderson, from Scripps Department of Immunology and Microbiology in La Jolla, California, recently published a paper called ‘The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2’ in the journal Nature Medicine.
It explains the genetic makeup of SAR-CoV-2 and the identification of the virus’s binding site to human cells. This gave the article’s multiple authors strong enough evidence to conclude “that SARS-CoV-2 is not the product of purposeful manipulation.”
Is the science working? In many cases, no. Despite the flood of evidence debunking the man-made coronavirus theory, 29 per cent of Americans still believe it, according to Pew Research Center.
As of now the Bat coronavirus RaTG13 is the most closely linked genome to SARS-CoV-2 at 96%. Which makes the Horseshoe bat of China’s Yunnan Province our number one suspect in our search for the origin of disease, as is being accurately reported in most places.
But how did COVID-19 get from bats to humans?
The Daily Mail, which has been banned by Wikipedia as an unreliable source, ran a story claiming in 2017 scientists warned of a SARS-like virus escaping from a Wuhan lab that was set up to study the world’s most dangerous pathogens such as SARS and Ebola.
But pathogen lab escape is nothing new. It caused the Russian Flu Pandemic 1977 and the 1978 smallpox outbreak in the United Kingdom. SARS has escaped six times from virology labs since 2003: one in Singapore, one in Taiwan and four from the same lab in Beijing.
In Andersen’s previously mentioned paper, researchers came to the conclusion “that SARS-CoV-2 is not [a] purposefully manipulated virus” and acknowledged that “it is currently impossible to prove or disprove the other theories of its origin”.
Although it is unclear if our current pandemic is natural selection at its worst or an accidental laboratory escape, clear research tells us that China did not invent this virus, 29 per cent of Americans be damned.