Along with the public health emergency, Coronavirus pandemic has also brought to fore a flood of conspiracy theories and claims that are as bizarre as they can be. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially announced the spread of "infodemic" amid COVID-19, which means overabundance of information on the virus, most of which is incorrect or based on flimsy grounds. But, when people are confronted with uncertain situations and unsurpassable odds, especially during times of a Global Pandemic, it is easy to fall for misinformation and propaganda.
One of the most popular theories around Coronavirus is it being a Chinese Bio-Weapon. In fact, recently, a lawsuit has been filed in the US under which the petitioner has accused China or using a bio-weapon Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) against the US. The petitioners have demanded USD 20 trillion from China, which is more than the GDP of the latter. However, a research paper titled "The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2" puts end to such theories, claiming that the theory has no scientific ground.
What led to the emergence of such theories?
Coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan City of China and has now spread across the world. At present, there are over 7 lakh confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 35000 deaths due to the deadly virus. However, there has been a significant decline of COVID-19 cases in China, which was initially the epicenter of the virus. China's progress and global economic slowdown due to COVID-19 stimulated the theories worldwide that the virus is a conspiracy or a bio-weapon of China to harm other countries and was created in a laboratory. Such theories emerged on Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and were fuelled by increasing number of shares among the people.
What does Research Paper say about conspiracy theory?
As per "The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2" paper published on 17th March 2020 in Nature journal, the Novel Coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 is the seventh from the family of Coronavirus to infect the human beings. The other six viruses are HKU1, NL63, OC43, 229E, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV. Of these 6 Coronavirus, the first four are harmless and result in mere mild symptoms in humans. The last two SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV and the recent SARS-CoV-2 are the critical of them all and have caused pandemic in last 18 years.
The research paper clearly states that the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is not a laboratory created virus or a manipulated virus. The virus has a capability of binding human protein ACE-2 with high affinity which is a result of natural selection.
What is a Bio-Weapon?
Bio-Weapons or Biological weapons are agents like Bacteria or Virus which are released deliberately to harm humans, animals or plants and cause deaths.
The use of Bio-weapons has been banned globally through the Biological Weapons Convention of the United Nations. The convention is the first multilateral disarmament treaty that bans the use of entire category of weapons meant for mass destruction.