The coronavirus-Wuhan bioweapons lab conspiracy theory’s weird echo

Nefarious labwork

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: There is sickness shrouded in uncertainty. With the ambient confusion floating around, a story emerges pinning the cause of the malady to a specific, government-linked lab.

Take the conspiracy theory that coronavirus was invented as a bioweapon in a Wuhan bioweapons: it echoes the pattern of stories promoted heavily by Russian disinfo outlets in 2018 following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK.

The Kremlin-aligned disinfo outlets claimed the Novichok nerve agent used to poison the Russian emigre father and daughter was in fact created near Salisbury at the UK’s chemical weapons centre.

The same year, the Kremlin decided the US was “running a clandestine biological weapons lab in the country of Georgia, allegedly flouting international conventions and posing a direct security threat to Russia — allegations the Pentagon angrily rejected.”

“It’s highly likely that the U.S. is building up its military biological potential under the cover of studying protective means and conducting other peaceful research, flouting international agreements,” said Russian general in charge of that nation’s radiation, chemical and biological protection troops.

The Wuhan bioweapons conspiracy theory also echoes the famous Cold War-era Operation Infektion when the KGB spread the lie that the AIDS virus was created in a biological weapons research laboratory in the US state of Maryland.

Could the source or promoters of these conspiracies be related over the years? It could just be a coincidence. Definitely. But it could also be a hackneyed storyline.

I can’t, unfortunately, say for certain which it is. But the pattern holds in these three examples.

More about the psychology of conspiracy theories in The Age piece .