Sen. Cotton repeats coronavirus origins conspiracy theory

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) again suggested over the weekend the coronavirus could have been created in a laboratory in China, despite pushback from experts and officials. 

During an appearance on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Cotton commented on the rapid spread of the virus, saying: “We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that.” 

“We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases,” he continued.

According to The Washington Post, Cotton was referring to the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, a facility that researches disease pathogens. The lab is near a market that was reportedly believed by some to have been where the virus began to spread weeks back.

“Now, we don’t have evidence that this disease originated there, but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says,” Cotton said. “And China right now is not giving any evidence on that question at all.”

A number of experts have taken aim at Cotton’s remarks, casting doubt on conspiracy theories that the virus was engineered, a narrative that has picked up in some right-wing websites in recent weeks.

“There’s absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered,” Richard Ebright, who teaches chemical biology at Rutgers University, told the Post. “The possibility this was a deliberately released bioweapon can be firmly excluded.” 

Cotton received heat earlier this month from Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai for suggesting in another instance that the coronavirus could have been created in a Chinese lab. 

“I think it’s true that a lot is still unknown and our scientists, Chinese scientists, American scientists, scientists of other countries, are doing their best to learn more about the virus, but it’s very harmful, it’s very dangerous, to stir up suspicion, rumors and spread them among the people,” Tiankai said then.

“There are all kinds of speculation and rumors,” he also said in an interview, while pointing to other conspiracy theories alleging the virus originated in the U.S. 

“How can we believe all these crazy things?” he asked at the time.

Tags China Coronavirus

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