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Unfounded Rumor

Experts tell NPR that the rumor that SARS-CoV-2 is the result of an accidental lab release has little merit.

This theory, which has been promulgated by the Trump Administration, stems in part from a series of State Department cables given to the Washington Post that raised concerns about safety at a virology lab in Wuhan, China, the region where the virus is thought to have emerged. 

But virologists tell NPR that a number of unlikely coincidences and deviations from established protocols would have to have happened for SARS-CoV-2 to stem from an accidental lab release. Jonna Mazet, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Davis, tells it that the researchers at Wuhan Institute of Virology, who worked closely with US researchers, not only followed protocols to only work with deactivated viruses, but helped create those protocols.

Instead, researchers say the likely source of the virus is spillover from wildlife, with bats as a likely reservoir, it notes.

"It's a real shame that the conspiracy theories can get to the level they've got with policymakers," Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, adds at NPR.