CORONAVIRUS | The laboratory report of a patient at KPJ Seremban that had gone viral on the social media was not for the 2019 novel coronavirus, said its medical director Prof Dr Wan Hazmy Che Hon.
"Referring to the news that was circulated through the social web on the coronavirus involving KPJ Seremban recently, the (KPJ Seremban) management would like to emphasise that the laboratory test was not on the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from Wuhan, China," Wan Hazmy said in a press statement posted on the KPJ Seremban official Facebook yesterday.
A paediatric specialist at the hospital, in his Facebook posting, also said the patient was not infected with the coronavirus.
Factcheck.org, a non-profit organisation working with Facebook to debunk misinformation, said claims by some netizens that the 2019-nCoV was made in laboratories with its vaccine readily available, was not accurate.
In fact, it said, there is no vaccine yet available for the new virus and there is no patent related to the virus.
Quoting the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Factcheck.org noted that some of the 'conspiracy theory' postings made on the social media platform linked it with patents that were actually related to two different viruses in the coronavirus family, which was formed by a group of viruses that tend to cause respiratory illnesses in humans and a variety of other illnesses in animals.
It said one patent is for a genetic sequence of the virus that causes SARS, in which the sequencing was done at the CDC during the SARS outbreak and the patent was filed by them.
The other supposedly related patent is for a mutated form of avian infectious bronchitis virus, or IBV, filed by the Pirbright Institute, a research institute in the UK, which infects poultry, but not people, it added.
“Neither of these has anything to do with the new 2019-nCoV virus. This is clearly a bogus theory that this virus was created in a lab, patented and has a vaccine already made to it,” said Matthew Frieman, a coronavirus researcher at the University of Maryland, as quoted by Factcheck.org in its website.
Among the posts on Facebook, as shared by Factcheck.org in its website, reads “Funny enough, there was a patent for the coronavirus was filed in 2015 and granted in 2018.” Another one, which was shared by others, and was part of a series of false coronavirus posts, proclaimed that the virus is “‘new’ yet it was lab created and patented in 2015 (in development since 03’).”
As of now, Factcheck.org noted that researchers were still working to understand the origin, spread and severity of the latest coronavirus.
Evidence suggests the virus likely spilled over to humans from an as-yet-unidentified animal, as has happened in the past for other coronaviruses.
The SARS virus, for instance, is thought to have come from bats, and then spread to humans through civets, a cat-like animal eaten as a delicacy in Asia. The SARS virus then proved to be transmissible from person to person.
As of last Saturday (Jan 25), the Health Ministry has so far confirmed four cases of novel coronavirus infection in Malaysia.