A Nobel Prize-winning immunologist has not said coronavirus is manmade, as claimed

30 April 2020
What was claimed

Professor Dr Tasuku Honjo, caused a sensation today in the media by saying that the corona virus is not natural.

Our verdict

Incorrect. Professor Honjo has denied saying this and there is no evidence that he ever did.

Various posts on Facebook claim that the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Professor Tasuku Honjo has said that coronavirus is “not natural”. The claim was also shared on Twitter, including by Lord Sugar.

We’ve also been asked to check this by lots of readers.

This claim is false.

Professor Honjo released a statement on 27 April saying: “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.”

Reports of this misinformation appeared as early as 22 April. In interviews and public statements made in the days before, at no point did Professor Honjo suggest the new coronavirus was unnatural.

The false posts also claim incorrectly that Professor Honjo worked in the “Wuhan laboratory in China” for four years. Professor Honjo is currently the Deputy Director-General and Distinguished Professor at the Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study (KUIAS). His biography on the KUIAS website shows no evidence that he spent four years teaching in Wuhan or China.

We’ve seen no credible evidence that Covid-19 was man-made.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because there is no evidence Professor Honjo said this and he has denied saying it.

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