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AP lists U of I Law Prof. Francis Boyle among top COVID-19 conspiracy theory spreaders

U of I Professor of Law Francis Boyle made a not-so-great appearance in the Associated Press this morning.

The AP‘s feature lists a variety of top conspiracy theory spreaders that have pushed varying misinformation about COVID-19 since early in the pandemic. Prof. Boyle claimed the virus was created as a bioweapon in Wuhan, China, and apparently he started spreading this theory via email to news organizations and personal contacts on January 24, 2020. As the AP points out, he has “no academic degree in virology or biology but is a longstanding critic of research on pathogens.”

This theory has been said to be “highly unlikely” by many credible scientists and researchers, most notably the World Health Organization. You can read the whole article linked above, which has others included beyond Prof. Boyle.

From the Associated Press article:

COVID CLAIM: Boyle says the coronavirus is a genetically engineered bioweapon that escaped from a high-level lab in Wuhan, China. He maintains it shows signs of nanotechnological tinkering and the insertion of proteins from HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus. He alleges that U.S. researchers helped create it, and that thousands of doctors, scientists, and elected leaders are conspiring to hide the truth.

Boyle promoted his claim in an email to a list of news organizations and personal contacts on Jan. 24, 2020. That same day, he was interviewed on a podcast called “Geopolitics and Empire.” That podcast was cited by a little-known Indian website, GreatGameIndia, and went viral, with Boyle’s comments picked up and featured in Iranian-state TV, Russian state media, and fringe websites in the U.S. and around the world. He’s since repeated his claims on Alex Jones’ show Infowars.

EVIDENCE? Boyle bases his argument on circumstantial evidence: the presence of a Biosafety Level 4 lab in Wuhan, the fact that other viruses have escaped from other labs in the past, and his belief that governments around the world are engaged in a secret arms race over biological weapons.

Biosafety Level 4 labs – or BSL4 labs – have the highest level of biosafety precautions.

“It seemed to me that obviously, this came out of the Wuhan BSL 4,” Boyle told The Associated Press, dismissing the accepted explanation that the virus emerged from the Wuhan market as “completely preposterous.”

World Heath Organization team concluded it was extremely unlikely the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab, and other experts have said the virus shows no signs of genetic manipulation.

h/t to Tom Kacich for tweeting this and bringing it to my attention.

Top image from AP.

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