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“We are not just battling the virus, but also conspiracy theories,” a spokesman for the Wuhan Institute of Virology has said. “Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumors, and prejudice.” He was trying to squash an idea that has been growing in popularity ever since the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus outbreak began: that his Virology Lab, at the heart of Wuhan, might be responsible. In a way, he was right. In a time of crisis, the last thing anyone would want to do is spread fear — especially if it’s based on nothing but a baseless rumor. But when you start looking into those claims that the epidemic that’s already infected almost 250,000 people across the world started in a Wuhan Virology Lab, it starts looking like something other than a conspiracy theory. It starts looking like an explanation that holds up unnervingly well — and that, if we take the time to look into it, could help prevent something similar from happening again.

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