Hypotheses and theories about the origin of COVID-19 in China gained new impetus this week with the announcement of a report from the US Department of Energy that claimed that the virus escaped from a Chinese laboratory.
The origins of COVID-19 remain unclear. Three years after the start of the pandemic, it is still not clear if the coronavirus that causes the disease left a laboratory or reached humans from an animal.
What is known is that when it comes to misinformation about COVID-19, any new report on the origin of the virus will soon lead to a relapse and a return of misleading claims about the virus, vaccines and masks that have resonated since the beginning of the pandemic.
It happened again this week after the US Department of Energy announced that a classified report had concluded, with a low level of confidence, that the virus had escaped from a laboratory.
Within hours, online mentions of COVID-19 conspiracy theories began to surface, with many people saying the classified report proved they had been right all along.
The Energy Department report adds to other attempts by scientists and authorities to identify the source of the virus, which has killed nearly 7 million people since it was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
The report has not been made public, and authorities in Washington stressed that several US agencies disagree on the origin.