USAToday rules claim that COVID-19 originated outside China FALSE

Mid-March Chinese official Lijian Zhao caused controversy with a speculative tweet on where the coronavirus originated, including writing “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”

The claim that the coronavirus originated outside China has been ruled false by a new USAToday fact check.

From USAToday:

The claim: The coronavirus originated outside China

A piece published by the Centre for Research on Globalization and circulated on social media claims the virus known as COVID-19 originated outside China.

That March 11 posting makes references to a March 4 post on the same site by the same author that claims the virus “may have originated in the U.S.” Titled “A Shocking Update. Did The Virus Originate in the U.S.?” the earlier post makes several questionable claims about the origins of COVID-19 while misrepresenting cited research and media reports.

The central claim of both the March 4 and 11 posts — that COVID-19 may have been brought to China by the U.S. Army — was recently echoed by a Chinese government official on Twitter. The Chinese official’s claims were presented without evidence.

Several of the central statements in the March 4 article misrepresent cited research or make unclear assertions. USA TODAY reached out to Larry Romanoff, author of both posts, for clarification on several of the claims made,  but was unable to reach him for comment.

What researchers say: COVID-19 originated in China

The consensus among researchers studying the spread of the virus pinpoints COVID-19’s likely origin to a “wet market,” or live animal market, in Wuhan, China. Though experts have not ruled out the possibility that the pathogen could have been brought to the market by an already infected person, there is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 originated outside the country.

Read more here.