As panic and confusion takes over citizens of countries around the world amid coronavirus outbreak which originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, it has equally fueled misinformation. Without a piece of evidence to support, Zero Hedge has claimed that the SARS-like virus has been engineered as a 'bioweapon' by Wuhan based lab of the researcher of bat immune systems. Many international reports have stated that the Chinese authorities believe the source of the novel virus can be from the Hunan fish market, however, the blog claims that the virus might have escaped becoming the 'deadliest' weapon of all.
The unproven news goes a step further as it cited a report by researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Acharya Narendra Dev College and the University of Delhi published under the title 'Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag'. This study further stated that they found '4 unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV, all of which have identity /similarity to amino acid residues in key structural proteins of HIV-1 is unlikely to be fortuitous in nature'.
However, Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist who has been associated with Harvard and Johns Hopkins said the research by Indian scientists was not verified and therefore it can not be cited as a source of speculations. Eric further claimed that even though he is not a bioengineer he will not support any conspiracies. Meanwhile, the paper on Zero Hedge was also updated with Feigl-Ding's tweets to correct the misinformation.
30) Dear friends, after learning that the original authors have formally retracted yesterday’s “uncanny” titled pre-print article, I believe it is prudent to delete the earlier posts 16-24 pertaining to it. Public health science has never been challenged by both such a fast...— Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) February 2, 2020
41) In a time of global 🦠crisis like this, the whole world’s better off if we work together to communicate our expertise to the wider public. Let’s stop infighting, and instead focus on the greater good to educate the public. Thanks everyone. Now let’s do this 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/mZeKmOlGMp— Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) February 2, 2020
(with inputs from agencies)