The GOP senator has spread misinformation and panic in a weeks-long meltdown over the disease.
Cotton suggested the coronavirus could havecome from a Chinese “super laboratory that works with the world’s most deadly pathogens,”boostingadebunkedfringetheorycirculating among tabloids andconservative media outlets.
Despite little public evidence, the theory has spread widely on social media, to conspiracy theory websites and insome international news outlets.
“It’s a ridiculous assertion,” said Dr. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology and immunology at Harvard University.
“All signs point to a pathogen that has been circulating in animals and jumped to humans. It’s pretty common for these viruses and there’s no good reason for him to be saying something like that.”
“Based on the virus genome and properties there is no indication whatsoever that it was an engineered virus,”said Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University.
“The vast majority of new, nasty diseases … come from nature,”he said.
Milton Leitenberg, an expert on chemical weapons at the University of Maryland, said he and other analysts around the world had discussed the possibility that weapons development at the Wuhan lab could have led to the coronavirus outbreak in a private email chain but that no one had found convincing evidence to support the theory.
从理论上讲，生物武器将被设计成具有很强的针对性，而自从它爆发以来，冠状病毒已经广泛传播。Hypothetically, a bioweapon would be designed to be highly targeted in its effects, whereas since its outbreak the coronavirus is already on track to become widespread in China and worldwide,” she said.
…a good bioweapon “in theory has high lethality but low, not [high], communicability”andthat spreading such ideas would be “incredibly irresponsible”.
…many infectious disease experts have urged patience while they assess the true dangers of the outbreak and cautioned against the kind offearmongeringthat Cotton has embraced.
The outbreak has resulted in massive amounts of disinformation, viral social media falsehoods and onlinegrifters attempting to cash in on the virus. Some conspiracy theorists have even promoteddrinking dangerous bleach as a cure.
The virus has also led to anti-Chinese sentiment in numerous countries, prompting local officials and community organizations to denouncesurging racismagainst Chinese communities.
“Misinformation around these outbreaks is definitely a problem,” said Dr. Tara Kirk Sell, senior scholar at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “When we undermine trust and get in the way of a public health response, those things can be really dangerous and really bad for trying to stop an outbreak.”
Health professionals and journalists have attempted topush backagainst the torrent of false information, debunking many of the myths around the virus and its origins.
“Panic is never a useful thing to elicit in a population …” Mina said.
But China has actually been fairly quick to address the virus and to alert international officials to the problem, according to health experts, and has as shared information on the virus that has helped epidemiologists study and track it.
…international health organizations and US officials have largely praised China’s reaction to the crisis.
“They have done everything that you could hope for and is current-day standard practice that would be done in any other country,” Mina said.
…herlongtime collaborator, disease ecologist Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, dismissed Ebright’s conjecture. “Every time there’s an emerging disease, a new virus, the same story comes out: This is a spillover or the release of an agent or a bioengineered virus,” Daszak says. “It’s just a shame.”