Soon after the outbreak many fake news reports and conspiracy theories popped up on social media mostly pointing to possible human engineering on corona viruses at the base of the start of the current 2019-ncov outbreak. ZeroHedge pointed as one of the first to the interesting fact that a high level research lab on viruses is based in Wuhan. According to ZeroHedge one of China’s top virology and immunology experts was and still works at China’s top-rated biohazard lab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Claims Made By ZeroHedge
“Since 2009, a scientist named Peng Zhou has been the leading Chinese scientist researching the immune mechanism of bats carrying and transmitting lethal viruses in the world. His primary field of study is researching how and why bats can be infected with some of the most nightmarish viruses in the world including Ebola, SARS and coronavirus, and not get sick. He was genetically engineering various immune pathways to make the bats more or less susceptible to infection, in the process potentially creating a highly resistant mutant superbug. As part of his studies, Peng also researched mutant coronavirus strains that overcame the natural immunity of some bats; these are “superbug” coronavirus strains, which are not resistant to any natural immune pathway, and now appear to be out in the wild. As of mid-November, his lab was actively hiring inexperienced post-docs to help conduct his research into super-coronaviruses and bat infections.”¹
Although the above quoted summary of the article is very juicy, this story has not yet been verified. The Golden Investor is very cautious on taking these kind of claims as the truth. However, the story becomes better as yesterday a preliminary study was shared on BioRxiv by several scientists which pointed at an interesting finding.
Pieces of the coronavirus’s genetic code found by Indian researchers, led by Prashant Pradhan at the Indian Institute of Technology, may have been ’embedded’ from HIV, which belongs to an entirely different family of viruses. According to ZeroHedge this indicates that human engineering of corona viruses possibly may have been at the base of the current outbreak. However, many fellow researches point to the fact that it is not that interesting that the viruses have 96 percent overlapping, this could purely coincidence.
Reaction by Indian scientists
However after this picture was widely shared on social media Pradhan was quick to make a statement:
“This is a preliminary study. Considering the grave situation, it was shared as soon as possible to have [sic] creative discussion on the fast evolution of SARS-like corona viruses. It was not our intention to feed into the conspiracy theories and no such claims are made here. While we appreciate the criticisms and comments provided by scientific colleagues at BioRxiv forum and elsewhere, the story has been differently interepreted and shared on social media and news platforms. We have positively received all criticisms and comments. To avoid further misinterpretation and confusions world-over, we have decided to withdraw the current version of the preprint and will get back with a revised version after reanalysis, addressing the comments and concerns. Thank you to all who contributed in this open-review process.”²Reaction by the authors of the preliminary study
The Golden Investor in no way wants to feed into the conspiracy theories. Interestingly, this was the first big case where, in the point of view of Twitter at least, coronavirus fake news was spread. The Golden Investor thinks several of the claims made by ZeroHedge do hold interesting coincidences and could be related to the outbreak of the conflict. In this case it seems like more research must be done to take conclusions and Zerohedge, known for its far fedged theories, was too soon to take conclusions. Even though several points stated in this article seem to point at a possible human origin of the current outbreak, The Golden Investor firmly believes the outbreak could not have been intentional. For now lets hope that Twitter is at the right end and the outbreak does not spread further.