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The polling was conducted by a Pew Research Center between March 10 and 16.
The largest percentage (43 percent) of respondents believe the coronavirus most likely came about naturally, and a quarter says they aren’t sure.
Almost a quarter of those polled (23 percent) say it is most likely that the current strain of coronavirus was developed intentionally in a lab; another six percent say it was most likely made accidentally in a lab.
The poll data shows that younger adults are more likely than older people to say the virus was developed in a lab. According to the Center, the belief that the coronavirus was created in a lab also is more prevalent among Hispanic and black Americans than among whites. Politically, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say the coronavirus was created in a lab.
Coronavirus and meat-eating
The virus is widely believed to have originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China, where live animals are kept – and slaughtered – next to dead ones, in conditions that allow disease to thrive.
But as many have pointed out, this is not a Chinese issue, but a global issue, as animals around the world are kept in the grim conditions – highly stressed, packed together, unclean environments – that could easily transmit bugs.
Gregory Gray, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Duke University in North Carolina, has described eating animals as a ‘significant cofactor’ in the genesis of new human diseases.
‘News and misinformation’
According to the Pew Research Center: “As news and misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic has spread, many Americans have encountered conflicting narratives about how the new coronavirus originated. Scientists have determined the virus came about naturally, but there is some uncertainty about how it first infected people.
“Confusion surrounding these facts parallels Americans’ overall experience with misinformation during the outbreak. About half of U.S. adults (48 percent) report having come across at least some news and information about COVID-19 that seemed completely made up, with 12 percent saying they have seen a lot of it and 35 percent saying they have seen some.”