Over two dozen public health scientists have signed a letter released Wednesday pushing back against the “rumours and misinformation” surrounding the origins of the coronavirus known officially as COVID-19.
“The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins,” wrote the group of scientists in a statement published by The Lancet.
Although the scientists do not single out any one theory, one of the most popular has people claiming that a high security laboratory near Wuhan, where the outbreak began, could be a source of the virus. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ariz., referred to this theory during an interview on Fox News earlier this month, saying that the lab was “a few miles away” from the seafood market where many of the earliest cases were first found.
“We don’t have evidence that this disease originated there, but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says,” the senator said.
“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” the scientists wrote, noting that those who have studied the “genomes of the causative agent… overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens.”
The scientists note that “Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice that jeopardise our global collaboration in the fight against this virus.”
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