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Nobel Laureate Tasuku Honjo refutes claims of novel coronavirus being man-made

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on April 28, 2020

Tasuku Honjo

False quote goes viral on social media

Nobel Laureate and Distinguished Professor Tasuku Honjo of the Kyoto University Institute of Advanced Study on Monday released an official statement through the university refuting claims to have alleged that the coronavirus was man made.

A false quote citing Honjo has been making rounds on social media platforms such as WhatsApp. The forward states that Honjo had previously worked with a laboratory in China and that he had said that the virus was not natural.

“In the wake of the pain, economic loss, and unprecedented global suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am greatly saddened that my name and that of Kyoto University have been used to spread false accusations and misinformation,” Hojo said in the official statement.

The text message that has gone viral on WhatsApp claiming that Japan’s Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Tasuku Honjo had said that coronavirus is “manufactured by China” and ends with a link to Honjo’s Wikipedia page.

“SHOCKING Japan’s professor of Physiology or Medicine, Professor Dr Tasuku Honjo, created a sensation in front of the media today by saying that the corona virus is not natural,” reads the WhatsApp forward.

“I have done 40 years of research on animals and viruses. It is not natural. It is manufactured and the virus is completely artificial. I have worked for 4 years in the wuhan laboratory of China. I am fully acquainted w/all the staff of that laboratory. I have been phoning them all, after the Corona accident. but, all their phones r dead for last 3 months. It is now u/stood that all these lab technicians have died. Based on all my knowledge and research till date, I can say this with 100% confidence that Corona is not natural. It has not come from bats. China has manufactured it. if what I am saying today is proved false now or even after my death, the government can w/draw my Nobel Prize. but China is lying and this truth will one day be revealed to everyone. Every once in a while we get Strange forwards , but can’t vouch for its credibility but some of the info makes sense,” it reads as quoted by an AltNews report.

‘False message’

Honjo refuted such claims stating that the message was false and that misinformation during the Covid-19 pandemic can be “dangerously distracting.”

“This is a time for all of us, especially those of us devoting our careers to the forefronts of scientific research, to work together to fight this common enemy. We cannot delay one moment in this effort to save the lives of our fellow humans. At this stage, when all of our energies are needed to treat the ill, prevent the further spread of sorrow, and plan for a new beginning, the broadcasting of unsubstantiated claims regarding the origins of the disease is dangerously distracting,” Honjo further said in his statement.

There has been a massive surge in misinformation across social media platforms related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft and Reddit had released a joint statement last month pledging to curb the spread of misinformation on their platforms.

Earlier this month, WhatsApp limited the number of forwards that a user can send in order to stop users from spreading misinformation The platform has also launched a Covid-19 information hub in association with the World Health Organization.

Published on April 28, 2020

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