Some conspiracy theorists on the far right have been claiming that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory in Mainland China and that it was unleashed as a form of biological warfare. And others have claimed that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese lab and escaped because of carelessness — not as some type of bio attack. But according to Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the “weight of evidence” indicates that the deadly coronavirus has “natural” origins.
On April 14, Milley told reporters at the Pentagon, “There’s a lot of rumor and speculation in a wide variety of media, blog sites, etc. It should be no surprise to you that we’ve taken a keen interest in that, and we’ve had a lot of intelligence look at that. And I would just say at this point, it’s inconclusive — although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural. But we don’t know for certain.”
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a far-right Republican and strident supporter of President Donald Trump, has, at times, floated the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was unleashed as a bioweapon by the government in Mainland China. But The Guardian’s Julian Borger has noted that Cotton has also “argued (that) natural transmission from animals to humans — or a lab accident — were more likely scenarios.”
Borger observes, “Most scientists say that this coronavirus probably originated in bats but found its way to humans through an intermediary animal. There is no conclusive evidence that this happened at Wuhan’s notorious ‘wet’ markets, where wild animals were sold for meat. Analysis of the first 41 COVID-19 patients in medical journal The Lancet found that 27 of them had direct exposure to the Wuhan market, but the same analysis found that the first known case did not.”