Whenever a crisis or national tragedy hits, it’s only a matter of time before the tin foil hats come out and the conspiracy theories start circulating, and the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak has been no exception. From a phony "vaccine" to drinking urine, here are some of the wackiest alternative explanations and treatments currently making the rounds.
SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab
On March 9th, Iran’s former President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared COVID-19 a bioweapon in a Tweet that included a letter penned to António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, outlining his suspicions of the novel virus. As the theory gained traction, the New York Post published a feature that at best confuses tenuous links with causation and at worst states objectively untrue information that veers on paranoia. Some internet users were even claiming Bill Gates had a part to play in the synthesis of the "lab-grown" virus, with the conspiracy claiming that such an outbreak could mean big business for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, despite the fact the foundation has pledged millions to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
The misinformed story has circulated to such an extent that an actual study has been carried out to prove the natural origin of SARS-CoV-2, a strain of coronavirus that has been shown to have many shared characteristics with other coronaviruses including SARS and MERS. Published in the journal Nature Medicine, the study notes that two key features in the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen rule out laboratory intervention in its development. So, let’s just put that one to bed now, shall we?
SARS-CoV-2 came from space
Panspermia is a theory that life can inhabit foreign planets under the right conditions and arrive via a meteorite. Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, claimed earlier this year that a fireball that burnt up in northern China last October is the most likely source of SARS-CoV-2, despite there having been no reports of meteorites found on the ground.
The similarities of SARS-CoV-2 with SARS and MERS are yet again evidence that this theory doesn’t have legs, as it’s incredibly unlikely that an extraterrestrial virus would evolve in exactly the same way as Earth-borne pathogens. If you’re still not convinced of the ridiculousness of this claim, we go into all the reasons why SARS-CoV-2 didn’t come from space here.