HASSAN: The many coronavirus conspiracy theories

A researcher from the Institute of Biology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) works to develop a new test to detect coronavirus infections in people, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 25, 2020. 

Rigorous research conducted at various reputable universities around the world should put to rest any notions of the novel coronavirus being some sort of conspiracy.

Sadly, it won’t. A plethora of theories about the virus has swamped the net, most suggesting COVID-19 was of U.S. manufacture and designed to incapacitate its main rival – China – in world influence and economic might.

Yet one study published in Nature Medicine clearly shows that the virus, which first appeared in China last December, resulted from natural evolution. Kristian Anderson, associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research, said: “By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes.”

The above-mentioned study clarifies that the virus is simply part of the family of coronaviruses. It probably emerged from Chinese wild animal markets and jumped the species barrier.

The science is therefore clear, but this hasn’t stopped drawing-room pundits from concocting one conspiracy theory after another. Now that Prince Charles has tested positive for the virus, other theories will line up to entertain the many who are now confined to home in front of keyboards.

Infections have hit Iran hard. Rather than striving to contain the virus, the Iranian mullahs are busy packaging it as a Zionist conspiracy. Iranian TV recently claimed that “Zionist elements developed a deadlier strain of coronavirus against Iran.” This ignores the fact that Israelis have also tested positive and that Israel is working diligently to develop a vaccine.

Putin’s media are also blaming the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel for creating the virus to bring down China’s economy and to test the effectiveness of their biological weapons.

Perhaps the most aggressively promoted conspiracies are those from China itself. They range from conjecture about the virus being manufactured in a laboratory to 300 American military athletes being infected and passing it on to the Chinese population. These athletes allegedly attended the Military World Games in Wuhan, where the virus began. The latter theory even has official Chinese support. Yet if it is true, the huge cost to America suggests the plan has backfired spectacularly.

The most damning evidence against China’s assertions is the fact that the Communist regime hid the outbreak for weeks before it alerted WHO officials about a potentially deadly virus. A proven conspiracy by the United States would have been victory for China – something it would have no reason to hide. The Chinese government would have immediately publicized it worldwide to besmirch America’s international reputation.

Instead, the virus spread exponentially for weeks before doctors and other medical workers alerted both the Chinese public and the rest of the world. These officials were promptly censored. Dr. Li Wenliang, the 34-year-old doctor who was the chief whistleblower, was forced to retract and apologize. He contracted the virus and died in early February.

In a political culture fixated on reputation at the expense of reality, it is obvious that the Communist Party wanted to prevent embarrassment to China and – more important – to itself. The world is now grappling with a highly contagious pathogen that has confined billions to their homes and caused massive disruptions to the lives and livelihoods of people.

The virus is no conspiracy, just a cataclysmic natural phenomenon tragically mismanaged by the puppeteers in Beijing.