Sixteen COVID-19 rumors and facts about China (1)
Rumor 1: The COVID-19 virus is engineered at a Chinese laboratory

Editor's note:

As COVID-19 wreaks havoc around the world, there has been much misinformation surrounding public discourse about the origin and transmission of the COVID-19 virus (also called SARS-CoV-2). Lies, rumors and conspiracy theories have been widely circulating on social media and some established media.

The motives behind these actions are varied, some are aimed at slandering political and ideological opponents, others target specific countries, ethnicities and religions. China is often at the receiving end of this "infodemic" of misinformation.

The following are the 16 most common rumors about the COVID-19 epidemic related to China. All of these rumors were debunked one by one based on scientific knowledge and facts, with hope to make public discourse around the topic more informed, honest, and truthful.

Rumor 1: The COVID-19 virus is engineered at a Chinese laboratory

Fact: All evidence points to that SARS-CoV-2 has originated in nature.

The SARS-CoV-2 is a new type of coronavirus, which contains a family of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans.

The World Health Organization noted that all available evidence suggests that the virus has an animal origin and is not manipulated or constructed in a lab or somewhere else. The possible animal source of COVID-19 has not yet been confirmed, and there are only speculations that it is possibly related to bat and pangolin.

Christian Drosten, the top virologist at Berlin's Charite hospital, and 26 other renowned scientists published a statement on the journal Lancet in February refuting the conspiracy theory that the virus is artificially made.

Kristian Andersen, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at the Scripps Research Institute in Sweden, and other researchers published a paper on the origin of the virus in Nature Medicine in mid-March. The paper pointed out that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.

In an interview with Faces of Peace, Gunnar Jeremias, professor at the University of Hamburg in Germany, also refuted such conspiracy theory and said even the best laboratory in the world could not create this virus out of thin air.

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