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Coronavirus HIV Hybrid Super Virus Conspiracy

Coronavirus HIV Hybrid Super Virus Conspiracy – Over the past few days, the mainstream press has vigorously pushed back against a theory about the origins of the coronavirus that has now infected as many as 70,000+ people in Wuhan alone (depending on whom you believe).

The theory is that China obtained the coronavirus via a Canadian research program, and started molding it into a bioweapon at the Institute of Virology in Wuhan. Politifact pointed the finger at Zero Hedge, in particular, though the story was widely shared across independent-leaning media.

The theory is that the virus, which was developed by infectious disease experts may have originated in the Wuhan-based lab of Dr. Peng Zhou, China’s preeminent researcher of bat immune systems, specifically in how their immune systems adapt to the presence of viruses like coronavirus and other destructive viruses.

Somehow, the virus escaped from the lab, and the Hunan fish market where the virus supposedly originated is merely a ruse.

Now, a respected epidemiologist who recently caught flack for claiming in a twitter threat that the virus appeared to be much more contagious than initially believed is pointing out irregularities in the virus’s genome that suggests it might have been genetically engineered for the purposes of a weapon, and not just any weapon but the deadliest one of all.

In “Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag“, Indian researchers are baffled by segments of the virus’s RNA that have no relation to other coronaviruses like SARS, and instead appear to be closer to HIV. The virus even responds to treatment by HIV medications.

Is The Conspiracy True

We’ve seen similar claims before, but this time many claims are being fueled by an unpublished — and highly dubious — scientific paper. By delving into the genetic or protein sequences of the virus, many of these stories have an aura of scientific credibility. But scientists who study viruses say they are incorrect.

RELATED: Humans Quarantined In Warehouses: Coronavirus Humanitarian Crisis

One set of stories, subsequently shared on Facebook, inaccurately asserts a link between the new coronavirus, also known as 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, and HIV, largely based on an unpublished manuscript by scientists in India.

The paper, which was posted on the preprint website bioRxiv (pronounced “bio-archive”) on Jan. 31, claimed to have identified very short “insertions” in the virus’ protein sequence that had an “uncanny similarity” to HIV.

Numerous scientists, however, almost immediately pointed out flaws in the analysis, noting that the sequences are so short, they match a bevy of other organisms — and there’s no reason to conclude they derive from HIV.

The paper was voluntarily withdrawn by its authors just two days later, with one saying, “It was not our intention to feed into the conspiracy theories and no such claims are made here.”

But the speedy withdrawal wasn’t fast enough to prevent some websites from picking up the story and concluding that the new coronavirus had been crafted in a laboratory.

A ZeroHedge article with the headline, “Coronavirus Contains ‘HIV Insertions,’ Stoking Fears Over Artificially Created Bioweapon,” pounced on some of the language in the preprint to argue that the scientists were saying the virus might be “man-made.”

The story also cited tweets from a visiting scientist at Harvard who had commented on the preprint and stated that the scientist’s tweets suggested that the virus “might have been genetically engineered for the purposes of a weapon.”

ZeroHedge is a website that we’ve written about before, including for spreading the false idea that the new coronavirus was stolen from a lab in Canada and then weaponized by the Chinese government.

Originally published the same day of the preprint, the ZeroHedge article was updated the following day to include tweets from the Harvard visiting scientist, who by then had seen some of the criticisms of the preprint and was now advocating for additional studies to be done before jumping to any conclusions.

The Harvard scientist, it should be said, is an epidemiologist, health economist and nutritionist, and does not have expertise in virology or bioinformatics. The bulk of the article, however, remains unchanged.

Well after the preprint was withdrawn, a website that traffics in vaccine misinformation, Health Impact News, also highlighted the invalid HIV connection.

Separately, a blogger posted a different bogus analysis — also making the rounds on Facebook — that posits a portion of the new coronavirus genome is similar to part of a viral vector that was used in previous research on the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, virus.

Based on this, the author argues that the new virus could have leaked from a Chinese lab working on a vaccine. The SARS virus caused a global outbreak in 2003 and is similar but distinct from 2019-nCoV.

Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist behind InfoWars and the false idea that the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012 was a hoax, also waded into the coronavirus misinformation pool. Multiple episodes of his talk show address both of these groundless theories and claim there is evidence that “proves” the new coronavirus was “man-made.”

Scientists with expertise in viral genomics, however, say that no such evidence exists. Kristian Andersen, the director of infectious disease genomics at the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told us in an email that in both cases, the analyses are “completely wrong.” Continue reading

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