A 46 percent plurality of Americans think the coronavirus was created in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, from which it escaped and mushroomed into a global pandemic, a Morning Consult poll said on Wednesday.
“Overall, 46 percent of U.S. adults believe the COVID-19 pandemic originated with a lab accident, while 26 percent think the virus began spreading naturally and 28 percent said they don’t know or have no opinion,” a press release summarizing the poll said.
In ordering a US investigation, President Joe Biden disclosed that US intelligence is divided on whether the disease jumped from animals to humans or whether it was created by the Wuhan Institute of Virology and escaped in a lab accident.
As with most US polls, results were highly polarized based on political affiliations, with 70 percent of Republicans and 32 of Democrats believing the coronavirus spilled from the Wuhan lab. The view was shared by 41 percent of voters not affiliated with either party, the release said.
Nevertheless, most adults support a US investigation with results nearly equal for Republicans at 85 percent and Democrats at 80 percent, according to the release.
Much of the scientific community and mainstream media outlets have maintained that the coronavirus was clearly of zoonotic origin from the beginning of the pandemic. Although the so-called lab leak hypothesis was mostly relegated to the fringes of the public conversation, it has been gaining traction in recent months after a report by the Wall Street Journal last month claimed that some in the US intelligence community had evidence that three of the lab’s employees were hospitalized with COVID-like symptoms in late 2019.
In addition to a widely panned World Health Organization investigation and comments by former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redford casting doubt on the consensus over the virus’ origin, speculation has resurfaced in recent months.