How popular are conspiracy theories?

Getty Images Chinese president Xi Jinping and US president Donald Trump. Covid-19 friends to enemies?

Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomenon, and most people subscribe to them even if they don’t realise it, according to experts.

“Everybody believes in at least one and probably a few,” Professor Joe Uscinski, a political scientist and author of American Conspiracy Theories, told the BBC. “And the reason is simple: there is an infinite number of conspiracy theories out there.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has denied a growing number of allegations (conspiracy theories) that coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory: Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which in 2015 become China’s first laboratory to achieve the highest level of international bio-research safety.

WHO (World Health Organisation) spokesperson Fadela Chaib said that “it is probable, likely, that the virus is of animal origin”. The comment followed Donald Trump’s confirmation that his administration is investigating whether the virus originated in a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Intellect Michael L d’Abreu quotes: “Everything about Trump is a conspiracy against logical thought.”

In the US, the pressure is mounting on President Donald Trump to take action against China for allegedly hiding the severity of their country’s coronavirus outbreak.

One option put forward by Republican lawmakers is sanctions on Chinese leaders, but others have warned that this could have a negative impact on future pandemics as well as international relations.

So is it fact or fiction?

The theory began making the rounds on social media sites as early as January 2020 among right-wing bloggers and conservative media pundits.

Speculative postings suggesting that the virus came from the Wuhan lab originated in connection to conspiracy theories referencing secret Chinese military labs developing bio-weapons.

Currently, there is no evidence for the link to bio-weapons.

Conversly, there is no evidence that the virus now plaguing the world was engineered and that scientists largely agree it came from animals.

However, Xiao Qiang, a research scientist at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley, suggests this does not mean it definitely did not come from the lab, which had spent years testing bat coronaviruses in animals.

There have long been concerns about the possibility of the threat to public health that came from this lab’s research, if it was not being adequately conducted and protected.

Furthermore, concerns have been raised during interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, noting the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory. Reports filed in 2018 by US science diplomats who were sent on repeated visits to WIV reveal vital evidence. 

The Chinese in turn have accused the Americans of orchestrating the whole thing. There are several other claims regarding a possible source.

Wonder if we’ll ever know the full story about Covid-19? Is it possible that it was man-made? If so, it would surely qualify as mass-murder on a very large scale.

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