Conspiracy Theory About the Coronavirus

I’m surprised how big the QAnon conspiracy thing has gotten. It’s gotten to the point that I personally know at least one person that has fallen for this 8chan LARPing BS and it boggles my mind.

In fact, I’m surprised that anybody believes any of the big conspiracy theories out there right now. Just today I was chatting with a coworker who said he heard that the coronavirus started in a lab in Wuhan China. I explained that I’ve heard those rumours too but from everything I’ve read they are just rumours and propoganda. I did a quick search this morning and found this article in New York Magazine:

“What happened was fairly simple, I’ve come to believe. It was an accident. A virus spent some time in a laboratory, and eventually it got out. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, began its existence inside a bat, then it learned how to infect people in a claustrophobic mine shaft, and then it was made more infectious in one or more laboratories, perhaps as part of a scientist’s well-intentioned but risky effort to create a broad-spectrum vaccine.”

But he goes on to say,

“There is no direct evidence for these zoonotic possibilities, just as there is no direct evidence for an experimental mishap — no written confession, no incriminating notebook, no official accident report. Certainty craves detail, and detail requires an investigation. It has been a full year, 80 million people have been infected, and, surprisingly, no public investigation has taken place. We still know very little about the origins of this disease.”

Are you getting that? Even while the central thesis of the article is that it came from a lab, he admits that there is no evidence.

But it turns out, there is evidence that the creation of the coronavirus was just the typical evolutionary process that viruses go through all the time. From my further research, this time from New Scientist:

Many similar viruses are found in wild bats, and it seems likely that is the origin of this one, probably via an intermediate host. Similarly, we know that both SARS and MERS came from bats, so there is no reason to invoke a laboratory accident.

Researchers led by Shan-Lu Liu at the Ohio State University say there is “no credible evidence” of genetic engineering (Emerging Microbes & Infections, The virus’s genome has been sequenced, and if it had been altered, we would expect to see signs of inserted gene sequences. But we now know the points that differ from bat viruses are scattered in a fairly random way, just as they would be if the new virus had evolved naturally.

That’s not to say that the New York Post, Fox News, and other right wing media aren’t trying to fan the flames of fear, uncertainty, and doubt even if it is just with their provocative headlines.

For example, one recent Fox headline reads, “‘Growing body of evidence’ that COVID-19 leak from Chinese lab a ‘credible possibility,’ Trump official claims”. But then the article itself actually says:

Scientists have yet to trace the exact origins of the pandemic, though it is widely believed to have been spread through human contact with infected animals. President Trump and other top officials have floated the theory that the virus leaked from a lab. To date, no evidence has emerged to support that claim.

The New York Post’s provocative headline: “Chinese virologist claims COVID was made in lab” (and later they added, “but US studies don’t agree”

And their story:

Meanwhile, California scientists published a report in a medical journal a month earlier mapping out the virus’ genetic sequence — which they say proves it was not made in a lab.

“Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus,” the researchers wrote.

Other western experts have also dismissed Yan’s claim.

I think it’s important to realize that the acussation here isn’t that the Chinese Government came up with a plan to disrupt the global economy, instead the claim is just that mistakes were made and the virus got out. This is a situation where we can look to Occam’s razor for the most likely answer. Nobody thinks SARS or MERS were created in a lab (they weren’t), but somehow because this virus created a pandemic there must be some easily identifiable human mistake that we can put our finger on. That’s just not the case.