In recent days, a number of US media outlets and Republican allies of President Donald Trump have been floating the conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus “was manufactured in a Chinese lab”. However, as more evidence is collected, this groundless theory has been rejected by an increasing number of scientists, including US top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
At the daily White House press briefing on April 17, Fauci rejected the conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus was created in and escaped from a Chinese lab, reported Business Insider.
“There was a study recently that we can make available to you, where a group of highly qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequences there and the sequences in bats as they evolve. And the mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human,” Fauci replied.
Studies of the virus' genome, he added, have strongly indicated that it was transmitted from an animal to a human rather than created or enhanced in a laboratory setting, as a March 17 article in the scientific journal Nature Medicine found.
“We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible,” the article said. The study, led by computational biologist Kristian Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute in California, compared COVID-19 to the six other coronaviruses known to infect humans and concluded that SARS-CoV-2 “is not a purposefully manipulated virus.”
As more evidence continues to emerge, the conspiracy theory has been debunked by medical communities worldwide. WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told reporters on April 21 in Geneva that “all available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin and is not a manipulated or constructed virus in a lab or somewhere else”.
So far, scientists and authorities have not come to a firm conclusion about where the animal-to-human transmission first occurred and what role the wet market may have played, reported Business Insider.