Professor of virology dispels conspiracy theories around coronavirus

Staff writer

With conspiracy theories emerging about coronavirus, this professor felt compelled to phone in to LBC to give his view on the more extreme myths about the superbug.

Professor Stuart Neil dispelled an earlier caller's fear that coronavirus was a lab-made superbug that was spread to the population deliberately.

【ギャラリー】Coronavirus becomes a pandemic169

He said: "There is absolutely no evidence of that and people need to put that idea to bed fairly swiftly. These conspiracy theories tend to spread around a lot when we get situations like this.

"It happened with HIV and other nasty viruses that have come into the human population. I think it's important for people to bear in mind that viruses skip from animals to humans all the time by the very nature of our interactions with them.

"This is a coronavirus which is very like SARS...it's part of a wider family of viruses that we've known for a while."

The rapid spread of the coronavirus increased fears of a pandemic on Friday, with six countries reporting their first cases and the World Health Organization (WHO) raising its global spread and impact risk alert to "very high".

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said his organization was not underestimating the risk.

"That is why we said today the global risk is very high," he told reporters in Geneva. "We increased it from 'high' to 'very high'."