Viral conspiracy – Observations of an ex pat

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Every week I do a programme for American radio. It is an hour-long midweek discussion of world affairs. The other half of the discussion is dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporter Lockwood Phillips. I am the loony London liberal, and I am assured that a large number of radios are splattered with rotten tomatoes every time my dulcet tones waft over the air waves.

Normally I can anticipate Lockwood’s questions. In fact, the format involves my submitting an agenda and him asking me for analysis on the subjects I chose. This week, however, he threw me a zinger: “What about the Chinese conspiracy behind coronavirus,” he asked?

“WHAT..What!,” I shouted across the Atlantic. “You have to be kidding. Are you saying that coronavirus is a pizzagate? Do you believe that Sandy Hook was a plot to discredit the NRA? Have you been reading Infowars or Breitbart News?”

“Well,” said Lockwood, “The Chinese could be using the virus to destabilise the West.”

I argued that the Chinese dependence on world trade meant that such a move would be akin to Beijing shooting itself simultaneously in the head, foot and heart. Lockwood was unimpressed.

I should explain that although I disagree with Lockwood politically, he is a well-informed and reasonably intelligent conservative commentator. He must have heard something from somewhere. A few Google searches proved me right. Here are a few Coronavirus conspiracy theories and their sources:

Rush Limbaugh: The far-right radio shock jockey whom Trump recently awarded America’s Freedom Medal, said on his daily programme that coronavirus was a Chinese conspiracy aimed at causing mass hysteria in the hope that it would topple Trump.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky: The leader of Russia’s far-right Liberal Democrats (no relation the British party of the same name) claimed that coronavirus was a plot by American pharmaceutical companies who will make billions from the vaccine when it is developed.

The Washington Times and US Senator Tom Cotton: The right-wing Moonie-owned newspaper and Arkansas senator wrote that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese Germ warfare factory in Wuhan and was released either intentionally or accidentally.

Jonathan Sulter: The You Tube conspiracy theorist has claimed that the coronavirus actually originated in Britain’s Pirbright Institute as part of research funded by Bill and Melinda Gates.

GreatGameIndia—The Indian conspiracy theory website reported that the coronavirus was developed in Canada, stolen by a Chinese scientist working there, smuggled back to China and then released.

All of the above theories are total rubbish. The source of coronavirus is still unknown, but most scientists believe that it originated in a wild animal which came into contact with a human. It started in China because of a tradition of live animal markets combined with crowded and unsanitary conditions.

This week the world’s top virologists wrote to “The Lancet” debunking the theories above. They finished with a warning: “Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumours and prejudice that jeopardise our global collaboration in the fight against this virus.”

* American expat journalist Tom Arms is LDV's foreign affairs editor, author of the forthcoming book “America: Made in Britain” and Campaigns Chair for Wandsworth Lib Dems

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  • If i t gets to US the health costs,they do have to pay could stop them getting treatment so go to work cos they have to .Low paid, paid weekly. No sick pay or days off if ill. Therefore go to work spreading it. Pay for health so kids go to school cos can’t afford to pay, spreading it. then get slated for spreading it.Dowe want to weaken our system to be like theirs? Already, Wetherspoons, you have to earn over £118 wkly to get sick pay ,days off.

  • It is interesting that a Chinese govn devoid of Liberalism didn’t just take the mortality loss and carry on as normal, not sure if they are frightened of the ease of catching the virus or that an easily caught virus might mutate into something much worse.

    Our govn needs to shut down all recirculated air systems and stop people coughing into the air (a twenty minute loop through the small shopping centre where I live, five instances counted but I managed to swerve well away from the culprits) rather than the advice given so far.

    It is nature that is against us rather than any sort of conspiracy.

  • Spanish flu, Asian flu, Hong Kong flu, Russian flu, SARS, Covid 19. Use tissue, wear face mask, WASH HANDS, and take some vitamin C and D.

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