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Hospital staff wash the emergency entrance of Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with the coronavirus were being treated, in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 22, 2020. (AP) Hospital staff wash the emergency entrance of Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with the coronavirus were being treated, in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 22, 2020. (AP)

Hospital staff wash the emergency entrance of Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with the coronavirus were being treated, in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 22, 2020. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher October 26, 2020

Pa. Rep. Scott Perry airs debunked claim that Wuhan lab ‘constructed’ coronavirus

If Your Time is short

  • The consensus of the scientific community and international public health organizations is that the coronavirus emerged from bats and later jumped to humans.

  • Scientists worldwide have publicly shared the genetic makeup of the coronavirus thousands of times. If the virus had been altered, there would be evidence in its genome.

Facing a tight reelection race, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., turned to an anti-China media outlet to pitch his bill seeking to designate the Chinese Communist Party as a transnational organized crime group.

His interviewer was Simone Gao, who is affiliated with The Epoch Times and sister TV station NTD News.

In the Oct. 17 interview, posted a few weeks after Perry introduced his bill, Gao turned to COVID-19. She asked Perry what has been the effect of President Donald Trump’s contracting the virus.

Perry said Trump’s recovery "gives us hope as Americans in our ability to conquer the virus that came from China, in my opinion, was constructed in the Wuhan Institute of Virology and then was spread around the world, either by accident or on purpose." 

Perry’s campaign didn’t respond to our requests for information to back his statement.

Despite numerous such claims, there is no evidence that the coronavirus was created at the Chinese institute.

A tossup race

Perry, in Congress since 2013, is being challenged by Democrat Eugene DePasquale, the state’s auditor general, for the seat  representing Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district, which surrounds Harrisburg, the state capital.

The race is rated a tossup by the Cook Political Report. It is one of 18 pivotal House and Senate contests up for election on Nov. 3 that PolitiFact is tracking. 

No evidence virus made in a lab

Here’s what we know from having fact-checked several claims that the virus that causes COVID-19 was created in a lab — a conspiracy theory that has been debunked since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic:

  • The consensus of the scientific community and international public health organizations is that the coronavirus emerged from bats and later jumped to humans. The first outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China.

  • Scientists worldwide have publicly shared the genetic makeup of the coronavirus thousands of times. If the virus had been altered in a lab, there would be evidence in its genome. But there isn’t.

  • That doesn’t rule out the possibility that Chinese researchers were studying the virus in a lab when it managed to spread outside the lab, which is something that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has considered. But the agency has also said there is "no credible evidence to indicate SARS-CoV-2 was released intentionally or was created as a biological weapon."

Our ruling

Perry said the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was "constructed" in a Wuhan, China, lab.

There’s no evidence to support this. Scientists who’ve studied the virus’s genetic makeup say that it is a naturally occuring virus.

We rate Perry’s statement False.


This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

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Pa. Rep. Scott Perry airs debunked claim that Wuhan lab ‘constructed’ coronavirus

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