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Screen shot from Documentary, 'Youth Defenders in the Wild', featuring a Chinese Virologists work with bats

Amid the continued spread of COVID-19, another conspiracy theory about the virus' origin has surfaced. Fueled by a documentary of a Chinese virologist catching bats in the wild, the latest conspiracy theory suggests that the current coronavirus pandemic may have originated from Wuhan's disease control authority.

Chinese Virologist, Tian Junhua, is featured on the seven-minute documentary. The said researcher has visited dozens of caves in Hubei province, the ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, as he tries to capture the flying mammal for his research.

The film then sparked a new round of speculations that the coronavirus pandemic could have been a man-made crisis.

COVID-19 and conspiracy theories

In the early days of the pandemic, several rumors about the origin of the deadly virus circulated including the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was either accidentally or intentionally released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and that it could also be a bio-weapon developed by either US or China.

These theories and speculations were immediately dismissed by experts, citing them as not credible and accusing the people who spread these rumors of 'creating anxiety' and the already fear-stricken crisis.

Read also: Coronavirus Man-Made Origin Debunked: Study Says Its a Natural Occurence

However, recent studies show that the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was manmade is very minimal due to the virus' genetic make-up, but until this moment, the true source of the SARS-CoV-2 remains unknown.

There have been speculations that it originated from wild animals such as bats, snakes, and pangolins.

Chinese health authorities also claimed that the virus most likely jumped to humans from animals sold in the seafood market in Wuhan where the first cases of the outbreak were reported.

 'Youth in the Wild: Invisible Defender'

The documentary that has sparked the latest speculations is part of a series that aims to introduce the works of young Chinese scientists, including Mr. Tian.

The episode titled, "Youth in the Wild: Invisible Defender", follows the life of the virologist as he spent days roaming wet and dark caverns to capture bats for his research. The episode was released by China Science Communication back in December, only a few weeks before the outbreak in Wuhan began.

The virologist and researcher have visited dozens of caves in Hubei and have already studied at least 300 virus vectors in the past decade. He even said that he is hoping that the virus samples he has obtained would only be used for scientific research and not in real life. This led some of the watchers to speculate that Mr. Tian and his research may be the key figure in finding out the real origin of the deadly novel coronavirus.

An article from The Washington Times, it was claimed that the film also showed how Mr Tian and his co-workers are casually engaged in the handling of bats and viruses. The article further stated and described that there was an instance that Mr. Tian came in contact with the urine of one bat research subject without wearing his protective suit.

The incident was then connected to the possibility that the virus came from the laboratory near the Huanan Seafood Market after one of the virologists handling the subjects was unknowingly infected and has transmitted the contagious diseases to people in the seafood market.


Related article:Chinese Researchers Isolate Over 2,000 New Viruses and Coronaviruses from Bats