The origins of COVID-19 are still unknown. Three years after the epidemic began, it is still unknown whether the coronavirus that causes the illness escaped from a lab or was transferred from an animal to people.
One thing is certain: Since COVID-19 misinformation has been circulating from the start of the pandemic, any new knowledge concerning the virus’s origin soon causes a relapse and reintroduces false claims about the virus, vaccinations, and masks.
This week, it happened again due to the Energy Department’s confirmation of a classified report’s low-confidence conclusion that the virus escaped from a lab.
Within hours, COVID-19 conspiracy ideas were more frequently brought up online, and many users claimed the confidential report proved they had been correct.
Though far from conclusive, the Energy Department’s report is the most recent of numerous attempts by researchers and authorities to pinpoint the virus’s origin.
Since it was first discovered in late 2019 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the virus has now claimed the lives of nearly 7 million people.
Officials in Washington emphasized that several U.S. agencies do not agree on the report’s origin and that it has not been made public.
Several investigations and publications support the theory that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 crossed from animals to humans, presumably at Wuhan’s Huanan market, which is the explanation preferred by many scientists.
The potential of a lab leak must be considered, according to the World Health Organization, even though an animal origin is still the most likely, the possibility of a lab leak must be investigated further before it can be ruled out.
According to virologist Angela Rasmussen, people should be open-minded regarding the data utilized in the Energy Department’s evaluation. Nonetheless, she asserted that there is no justification for contesting the finding that the virus propagated spontaneously without considering the data included in the secret report.
Rasmussen tweeted on Tuesday, “We can and do know what the scientific data says. “The data still indicates zoonotic development at Huanan market,” the statement reads.
Nonetheless, many who used the study as evidence appeared uninterested in the facts. They leaped on the report and claimed the experts might have also been mistaken regarding masks and vaccinations.
“Closures of schools were a disastrous and failing policy. Masks are useless. And damaging,” said a tweet from Sunday that has been viewed almost 300,000 times. “COVID was created in a lab. All of the things the skeptics asserted were true.
Following Sunday’s publication of a piece regarding the Energy Department report in The Wall Street Journal, COVID-19 was more frequently mentioned.
According to research done by Zignal Labs, a media intelligence company with offices in San Francisco and shared with The Associated Press, mentions of various COVID-related conspiracy theories have increased significantly since that time.
Although the lab leak notion has circulated online since the epidemic began, references to it increased 100,000% in the 48 hours following the release of the Energy Department study, per Zignal’s research of social media.
Many conspiracies run counter to one another and the conclusions of the Energy Department report. U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, described COVID-19 as a “man-manufactured bioweapon from China” in a tweet on Tuesday.
However, one of her followers instantly disputed her claim, saying that COVID-19 was made in Ukraine.
Bret Schafer, a senior fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a Washington-based organization that has tracked government propaganda about COVID-19, says it’s not at all surprising that COVID-19 is still capable of inciting such anger and false information was given the myriad unanswered questions about a global event that has claimed so many lives and upended even more.
The pandemic caused severe disruption for everyone. I don’t think people’s strong views about COVID will change,” Schafer said. And whenever something new emerges, it gives these actual or imagined complaints and disappointments fresh life.
Chinese government representatives have, in the past, amplified anti-American sentiment on social media.
Conspiracy theories, such as some that claimed the United States produced the COVID-19 virus and blamed China for its release.