Scientists have analysed the entirety of the novel coronavirus’ genomic sequence to assess claims that it may have been made in a laboratory or been otherwise engineered.
The coronavirus outbreak first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December and has caused an international pandemic, infecting more than 198,000 people and leading to over 7,900 deaths.
International blame around the COVID-19 pandemic has incited conspiracy theories about its origin.
“[A paper in the journal Nature Medicine] conclude that the virus is the product of natural evolution, ending any speculation about deliberate genetic engineering”Dr Josie Golding, the epidemics lead at the Wellcome Trust in the UK
Without evidence Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, suggested on Twitter that the virus could have been brought to Wuhan by the US army.
While he may have been insincerely provocative in response to American officials describing the outbreak as the Wuhan virus, stressing its beginnings in China, he received thousands of retweets.
Rumours linking the virus to the Wuhan Institute of Virology – based on geographic proximity, and without any endorsement from qualified epidemiologists – have also circulated.