Facebook ending ban on posts claiming COVID-19 originated in Chinese lab


FILE – This March 29, 2018, file photo shows the Facebook logo on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

MENLO PARK, Calif. (WTVO) — Facebook announced on Wednesday that it would be ending its ban on posts that claim COVID-19’s origins were man made after President Joe Biden ordered U.S. intelligence officials to “redouble” its efforts to investigate the origins of the pandemic.

Biden’s order follows a Wall Street Journal report of a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence document said that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized after coming down with “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness,” in November 2019.

The first cases of COVID-19 were identified in December 2019.

“In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made from our apps,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We’re continuing to work with health experts to keep pace with the evolving nature of the pandemic and regularly update our policies as new facts and trends emerge.”

China had already strongly rejected the possibility of a leak and has promoted other theories. The Chinese and foreign experts considered several ideas for how the disease first ended up in humans, leading to a pandemic that has now killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

The World Health Organization conducted an investigation of the virus’ origins and determined that it most likely came from an animal host, and rated the risk of accidental leak from the lab as being “extremely low.” However, the CDC has acknowledged “one possibility” that it originated in a lab.

The World Health Organization has been criticized for being overly deferential to China during the course of its investigation, the final report being co-authored by 17 Chinese scientists, several of whom work at government-run institutions.

Scientists have yet to discover definitive proof that the virus came from an animal, according to former head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who added that with other novel coronaviruses, namely SARS and MERS, researchers were able to identify the source animal for the virus by this point in those outbreaks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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