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Organic Consumers Association

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The Non-Paranoid Person’s Guide to Viruses Escaping From Labs

Trump’s China-blaming and conspiracy theories have undermined the real debate about the facilities that handle the world’s deadliest pathogens.

Few people in the United States had heard of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)—the high-security biolab in Wuhan, China, that does cutting-edge research on coronaviruses—until mid-April, when the Trump administration began to imply that it might be the source of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. So far the only evidence supporting this idea is the coincidence of COVID-19 breaking out in the same city as the institute, but that’s been enough to feed conspiracy theories for months. Such theories were relegated to the right-wing fringe—even before Rush Limbaugh complained on an April 16 broadcast that “you are a kook if you think that this virus happened in a lab!”—until the administration, feeling the heat for its own inept response, began to embrace them.

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