The fight against the COVID-19 virus is also a battle against rumors and lies.
When China is fighting vigorously against the disease, certain Western individuals and media outlets have suggested that the COVID-19 virus may have to do with China's biological warfare program and that it is a bioweapon leaked from a lab.
Such conspiracy theories are groundless and are made with ill intentions and absurd ignorance.
It is known to all that it is complicated to trace the source of the virus amid an epidemic, which requires a scientific approach and constant caution and patience, not arbitrary surmise. During an inspection tour to medical research institutions in Beijing on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the importance of coordinating research on virus source tracing and transmission routes and evaluating whether some suspected animals are intermediate hosts.
Xi's remarks send a clear signal: the work of tracing the virus source and the evaluation of the intermediate host is unfinished.
While China is making rigorous and scientific investigations, those conspiracy theory makers should think twice before they speak.
Many global agencies and medical experts disagree with the conspiracy talk. The World Health Organization (WHO) has repeatedly said there is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus was engineered in a laboratory or caused by the making of biological weapons. The Lancet, a mainstream international medical journal, has published a joint statement signed by 27 of the world's leading public health scientists. They said scientists from multiple countries have published and analyzed genomes of the causative agent and overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens.
Spreading rumors and lies amid an epidemic is like rubbing salt on a wound. As these scientists have noted, the conspiracy theory can do nothing but create fear, rumors and prejudice that jeopardize the global collaboration in the fight against this virus.
Science and technology are the most powerful weapons against rumors and lies. Accelerating scientific research on the virus will allow people to rid themselves of misconceptions about the virus and reasonably respond to the outbreak. Monday's inspection tour highlights the importance and urgency of stepping up science and technology research to turbocharge the anti-virus drive, and more importantly, free people from misinformation.
The battle against the COVID-19 virus is still at a crucial stage, as the number of new infections is rising sharply outside of China while the turning point of the outbreak in China has not arrived. It is high time to guard against varied versions of conspiracy theories and let science, reason and cooperation prevail over rumors, panic and mistrust. Viruses know no borders. It is a shared responsibility for the global community to stop both the biological and political virus.