A lengthy text message has gone viral on WhatsApp which claims that Japan’s Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Tasuku Honjo said that coronavirus is not natural but “manufactured by China”. Along with the text, there is a link to Honjo’s Wikipedia page.
The complete message reads, “SHOCKING Japan’s professor of Physiology or Medicine, Professor Dr Tasuku Honjo, created a sensation in front of the media today by saying that the corona virus is not natural. if it is natural, it wudn’t hv adversely affected entire world like this. bcoz, as per nature, Temperature is different in different countries. if it is natural, it wud’ve adversely affected only those countries hvg same temperature as China. instead, It is spreading in a country like Switzerland, in the same way it is spreading in the desert areas. whereas if it were natural, it would hv spread in cold places, but died in hot places. I have done 40 years of research on animals and viruses. It is not natural. It is manufactured and the virus is completely artificial. I have worked for 4 years in the wuhan laboratory of China. I am fully acquainted w/all the staff of that laboratory. I have been phoning them all, aftr the Corona accident. but, all their phones r dead for last 3 months. It is now u/stood that all these lab technicians have died. Based on all my knowledge and research till date, I can say this with 100% confidence that Corona is not natural. It has not come from bats. China has manufactured it. if what I am saying today is proved false now or even after my death, the government can w/draw my Nobel Prize. but China is lying and this truth will one day be revealed to everyone. Every once in a while we get Strange forwards , but can’t vouch for its credibility but some of the info makes sense https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasuku_Honjo”
Alt News has received several requests to fact-check this on WhatsApp (+91 76000 11160) and on our official Android application. Several Twitter and Facebook users have shared this message as well.
- Tasuku Honjo made the claims listed in the message.
- Honjo worked in Wuhan lab for four years.
- Coronavirus is genetically manufactured by China. It hasn’t originated from bats.
All three claims are false.
1. Tasuku Honjo never made such statements
Alt News performed a keyword search on Google and found no reports which suggested Honjo said that coronavirus has a man-made origin. Had a Nobel laureate in medicine made such a statement it would have been all over the news. However, that is not the case.
Moreover, on April 10, in an interview with Nikkei Asian Review, Honjo was asked — “Why have medical advances been unable to eradicate infectious diseases? ” He responded, “Medicine has evolved dramatically even compared with 20 years ago, but every new virus requires a new response. Physics and chemistry have established principles, but biology is a science that’s still developing, and there’s so much we still don’t know. So one novel virus can turn the world on its head. Many people probably wonder why, but that’s just the reality. Infectious diseases are completely different from something like cancer. Infectious diseases can spread quickly to a large number of patients.”
In none of his recent interactions with the media has Honjo said that coronavirus does has a man-made origin.
Honjo currently works as Deputy Director-General and Distinguished Professor at Institute for Advanced Study, Kyoto University. Alt News reached out to Honjo via an email. David Hajime Kornhauser, Director of Global Communications at Kyoto University, shared Honjo’s official statement in the form of the press release. The statement issued on April 27 reads, “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.” The full statement can be read here.
2. Tasuku Honjo has never worked in Wuhan lab for four years
According to the Kyoto University Institue for Advanced Studies’ (KUIAS) website, Honjo is Deputy Director-General at the University. In 2018, Honjo and James Allison were awarded Nobel prize for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation, as per the Nobel Prize website.
The KUIAS website also lists a detailed biography of Honjo starting from 1966 and it doesn’t mention that he was working at Wuhan for a period of four years.
David Hajime Kornhauser shared a link to Honjo’s detailed curriculum vitae which established that he has never worked at Wuhan lab.
3. Scientists across the world agree that COVID-19 isn’t man-made
A statement by public health scientists published in The Lancet says, “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin. Scientists from multiple countries have published and analysed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens.”
The World Health Organisation has said that bats are the most likely ecological reservoir for the novel coronavirus, and illegally traded pangolins could be the intermediary hosts. However, a later update by the World Economic Forum states, “Originally, scientists believed the virus may have developed in bats, and later pangolins. However, genomic comparisons suggest that the SARS-Cov-2 virus is the result of a recombination between two different viruses, meaning the exact origin of the virus is still unclear.”
Thus the claims made in the viral text are false. Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo never said that coronavirus was manufactured in a lab in Wuhan. Moreover, there is no evidence to support the claim that the novel coronavirus is man-made.