Chinese government pushes conspiracy saying COVID could have originated at UNC

Coronavirus

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) — The Chinese government, along with state run media, is now pushing baseless conspiracy theories targeting the University of North Carolina’s flagship campus.

Pushing back on a U.S. government intelligent report about the origins of COVID-19, the Chinese Embassy suggested UNC should be investigated.

Last week, a statement was posted to the Chinese Embassy’s website suggesting that UNC could have played a role in creating the COVID-19 virus.

“Given its own questionable record on laboratories, shouldn’t the U.S. invite the WHO to do origin studies in Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina?” the statement read.

Fort Detrick is an American military lab that has already appeared in conspiracy theories regarding the origins of COVID-19. Those statements have largely been debunked by medical experts.

Community party news sites have also run articles pushing for an investigation into the UNC lab.

Far-right conspiracy theorists have targeted the lab in the past as well.

UNC didn’t respond to requests for comment about China’s statement.

Officials with the World Health Organization criticized Chinese leaders for urging an investigation into unfounded claims.

“From the perspective of our Chinese counterparts, it is a contradiction if you’re saying that the lab hypothesis is a non-starter from a Chinese perspective, but we need to look at labs in other countries. I find that hard to understand,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO Emergencies Program.

The lab in question is run by Dr. Ralph Baric, one of the world’s foremost experts on coronaviruses.

The Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC is a specialized lab that has studied SARS-like viruses since 2003.

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