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Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on May 5 promoted conspiracy theory regarding the origin of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 and suggested that China could have developed the pathogen in a laboratory and disseminated it as a “biological warfare” for economic gain. According to The Brazilian Report, in an event on Wednesday, Bolsonaro posed doubts over the coronavirus origin and even questioned “are we not facing a new war?” Brazilian President’s remarks supported the preliminary conspiracy theories that budded in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to send a team of experts to China and investigate the roots of the pathogen that has rocked the world for over a year.
"It's a new virus. Nobody knows whether it was born in a laboratory or because a human ate some animal they shouldn't have," said the far-right leader.
"But the military knows all about chemical, biological and radiological warfare. Could we be fighting a new war? I wonder. Which country's GDP has grown the most?"
While most of the world witnessed a steep decline in their economy owing to unprecedented and prolonged shutdowns of businesses, China declared a GDP increase of reportedly 2.3% in 2020 rising roughly $14.7 trillion, as per Wind Information data. At the current pace, China’s economy has the potential to surpass the United States as the world’s top economy in 2026 which is two years before than what was anticipated.
Bolsonaro, however, reportedly did not mention China but the reports of Asian country’s GDP growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic are not alien. Brazilian President and his inner circle have a history of irking China with their remarks that have sometimes aggravated the ties between Brazil and its biggest trading partner. Bolsonaro suggesting ‘germ warfare’ on Wednesday came just after in March, he replaced the foreign minister Ernesto Araujo who had denounced “Maoist China” and the nation’s plan for “world domination” with a career diplomat Carlos Franca. The move was broadly perceived as Brazil’s attempt to mend relations with China.
An Australian doctor who was part of the World Health Organization (WHO) team that visited China’s Wuhan, Dominic Dwyer wrote in a first-person account explaining why the origin of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to be either the seafood market in the city or leaked from Wuhan lab. Defying major conspiracy theories claiming that the highly infectious virus was leaked from a lab researching pathogens, the Australian scientist explained why the leak from Wuhan lab is also “extremely unlikely” in a lengthy article.
He wrote that the team of international experts sent to Wuhan to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus visited the lab in the centre of all theories, Wuhan Institute of Virology. After speaking to scientists working there, the experts found no evidence of coronavirus antibodies. The WHO team, as Dwyer explained, looked at the closest virus to SARS-CoV-2 that the researchers were working on in the lab, which is the virus RaTG13. However, all scientists had a genetic sequence for the virus and they had not been able to grow in culture.
Dwyer wrote, “We spoke to the scientists there. We heard that scientists’ blood samples, which are routinely taken and stored, were tested for signs they had been infected. No evidence of antibodies to the coronavirus was found. We looked at their biosecurity audits. No evidence.”