Photo Credit: wikipedia
Electron micrograph of coronavirus, photo by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

{Originally posted to the BESA website}

Several conspiracy theories about coronavirus have emerged in China. A Chinese government spokesman said on March 12, 2020, without citing any evidence, that “it might be the US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan during the 2019 Military World Games, which was held from October 18–27, 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei, China.” Some Chinese have claimed that the US created the virus to destroy China’s economy. (Some Americans in turn have suggested that the virus is cover for a Chinese attempt to destroy America’s economy.) As these theories proliferate, American companies continue to donate toward China’s fight against the pandemic, more so than all other global multinational companies.

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Iran portrays the virus as a conspiracy orchestrated by the US and Israel. This accusation is a consistent theme for the regime, which always tries to stoke the anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism at the heart of its ideology when it needs to distract the Iranian people from the failures of the leadership.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded that such accusations put Iranians, Americans, and the rest of the world at risk. Tweeting that “facts matter,” he listed several:

  1. “FACT: In February, Iran’s chief terror airline, Mahan Air, continued to fly at least 55 times between Tehran and China, spreading the Wuhan Virus. At least five countries’ first cases of COVID19 were a direct result of the Iranian regime’s disregard for everyone’s health.
  2. FACT: The Iranian regime ignored repeated warnings from its own health officials, and denied its first death from the Wuhan Virus for at least nine days. The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths.
  3. FACT: As Iran asks for more money, remember: since 2012, the regime sent $16B+ to its terrorist proxies in the Middle East. Officials stole 1B+ Euros intended for medical supplies, and continue to hoard desperately needed masks, gloves, and equipment for sale on the black market.
  4. FACT: The U.S. has offered $100M+ in medical aid to other nations including Iran and our scientists are working 24/7 to develop a vaccine. Khamenei has rejected American offers and spends 24/7 concocting conspiracy theories. How does that help the Iranian people?”

Racist extremist groups, including neo-Nazis and other white supremacists, blame Jews and Jewish leaders for both coronavirus and the global response to it, including the shutdown of all but essential government functions in places like New York, New Jersey, and California. “From pushing the idea that Jews created the coronavirus to sell vaccines to encouraging infected followers to try to spread the illness to the Jewish community and law enforcement, as the coronavirus has spread, we have observed how white supremacists, neo-Nazis and others have used this to drive their conspiracy theories, spread disinformation and incite violence on their online platforms,” said Michael Masters, head of Secure Communities Network, an umbrella group that coordinates security for Jewish organizations and synagogues around the country.

There are two versions of the myth that coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is a bioweapon. One claims that coronavirus was deliberately engineered by humans in a level 4 (i.e., the highest biosafety level) research laboratory in Wuhan; the other asserts that the virus was being studied in that lab (after having been isolated from animals) and then “escaped” because of poor safety protocol.

Similar rumors are running rampant online accusing Israel and the US of weaponizing the virus and speculating that Israel, the US, and China already possess either a cure or an antidote. “Conspiracy theories about human-made viruses are not new. We saw this with HIV, the rumor that the US made it, and introduced it into Africa. But they are really dangerous kinds of things to get spread around,” said Gerald Keusch, professor of medicine and international health and associate director of Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories. Dr. Tom Inglesby, Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, rebuts the suggestion of malicious design:

At this point, there is no genetic evidence of anything other than a naturally occurring virus. It is true that there is a major laboratory in Wuhan that studies coronaviruses and has a large collection of coronaviruses. But from the analyses that have been done, there isn’t any evidence that this virus has been engineered or is different from something that has been found in nature.

(Dr. Edy Cohen is an author and researcher at the BESA Center. Dr. Frank Musmar is a financial and performance management specialist)

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