US Fact check: US government did not engineer COVID-19
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The claim: The novel coronavirus was intentionally engineered by the U.S. government in research overseen by Dr. Anthony Fauci
In the newest slew of theories as to the origin of, the U.S. government played a role in its creation.
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"After the (SARS) outbreak in 2002, the United States government funded a collaboration of Chinese scientists and the US military from a bioweapons lab in (F)ort Detrick," Malcolm Harris alleges in aon The Duran.
It goes on to claim that none other than the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, oversaw the research initiative that led to the development of "pandemic superbots" and viral strains more lethal than their naturally occurring counterparts.
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There were concerns raised by an unnamed "Harvard professor" that Fauci's work "was intentionally weaponizing the virus." However, research continued unfettered and subsidized by the U.S. government, Harris claims.
Years later, incidents involving the near release of the weaponized virus, on which Harris does not elaborate, put a stop to Fauci's work. "In 2014, the US government terminated Fauci’s federal funding," Harris writes. This does not truly stop the experimentation, Harris claims, instead shifting it, along with U.S. funding of $3.7 million, to a military lab in Wuhan, China.
Harris draws parallels with different instances of unethical human experimentation such as, the and the CIA's mind-control project to claim the coronavirus was intentionally created.
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The website that published Harris' claim, The Duran, did not respond to a request for Harris's contact information or comment from USA TODAY. On its, The Duran acknowledges it "does not routinely moderate, screen, or edit content contributed by readers." Some believe the outlet is a for Russian propaganda.
, The Duran is owned by the Cyprus-based DRN Media PLC, with Russian native Alex Christoforou as its president.
Fauci has been the face of the national coronavirus response since the start of the pandemic. It's a position that has earned him nationalbut also vilification and suspicion.
Other Fauci conspiracy theories:
While Fauci has overseen a variety of research – some involving viruses like Ebola and Zika – in his 36-year directorial tenure, his primary focus has been on HIV. In the early years of the HIV epidemic, Fauci investigated how the body's immune defenses were wrecked by the virus, explaining why infected people were getting so sick and dying. Later, he was instrumental into loosen clinical drug trial policies, making experimental HIV/AIDS treatments available to patients in need.
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Since then, the 79-year-old immunologist has continued to advance the study of HIV and has served as a health adviser to six presidents, most recently President Donald Trump. There is no evidence to suggest Fauci himself was directly involved in coronavirus research.
Coronavirus not man-made
While there's no question the U.S has been involved in human medical experimentation in the past – Senate hearings during the early 1950s revealed testing of biological agents on the public, and the CIA's mind-control program MKUltra was confirmed in– evidence does not point to the coronavirus being purposefully engineered.
"It's extremely unlikely that there was any intentional development or any intentional action in a laboratory, whether in China or the United States, to develop (the coronavirus),", director of the Terror Medicine and Security at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told USA TODAY in an interview. Cole has written several books on the topic of bioterrorism, including " "
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have also rejected the notion that the novel coronavirus was purposefully created.
“By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that (the novel coronavirus) originated through natural processes,”, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research, said in a released by the institute.
"If someone were seeking to engineer a new coronavirus as a pathogen, they would have constructed it from the backbone of a virus known to cause illness," Andersen also added.
Our ruling: False
We rate the claim that the U.S. government purposefully created the novel coronavirus, through research efforts led by Fauci, as FALSE because it is not supported by our research. Scientific evidence has found no support for the claim that the coronavirus was intentionally engineered in a laboratory setting.
Our fact-check sources:
- Media Bias/Fact Check, ""
- Scripps Research, ""
- LiveScience, ""
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
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