Ian Payne 4am - 7am
Professor of virology dispels conspiracy theories around coronavirus
28 February 2020, 16:19
With conspiracy theories emerging about coronavirus, this professor felt compelled to phone in to LBC to dispel some of the more extreme myths about the superbug.
Professor Stuart Neil dispelled an earlier caller's fear that coronavirus was a lab-made superbug that was spread to the population deliberately.
"There is absolutely no evidence of that and people need to put that idea to bed fairly swiftly," said Professor Neil, "these conspiracy theories tend to spread around a lot when we get situations like this.
"It happened with HIV and other nasty viruses that have come into the human population. I think it's important for people to bear in mind that viruses skip from animals to humans all the time by the very nature of our interactions with them."
Coronavirus, the strain of which is known as COVID-19, is a bug thought to originate in bats.
The professor said that most bugs that transfer from animals to humans don't go anywhere because they don't replicate well in people.
"This is a coronavirus which is very like SARS...it's part of a wider family of viruses that we've known for a while," he said, and told Shelagh that it is unclear whether this virus may present itself in other mammals such as livestock.
Ultimately scientists understand that the virus will leave little impact to most people and those with a vulnerable immune system are at most risk.