A majority of Americans now believe that the novel coronavirus leaked from a laboratory, according to a poll by Politico and Harvard University.
The survey found that 52 percent of Americans believe coronavirus leaked from a lab, compared with 28 percent who think the pandemic started following human contact with an infected animal. Support for the lab-leak theory is bipartisan, with 52 percent of Democrat and 59 percent of Republican respondents backing the theory.
In a Pew Research Center survey conducted from March 10-16, 2020, just 29 percent of Americans said they believed coronavirus leaked from a lab.
The current bipartisan agreement on the lab-leak issue is unusual, said Bob Blendon, professor of health policy at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the designer of the survey.
“Usually, our polls find a big split between Republicans and Democrats, so this is unique,” Blendon told Politico. “More conservative media have been carrying the ‘lab leak’ issue, and it’s been a Trump talking point from the beginning, so we expected people who lean Democratic would say either ‘It’s not true’ or ‘I don’t know.’ But the belief is bipartisan.”
The full results of the survey will be released next week. The poll included 1,009 respondents interviewed between June 22–27, with a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.
The possibility that coronavirus leaked from a lab was raised as early as January 2020, by figures including Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.). The city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began, is home to both the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China’s highest-security lab for dangerous viruses, and the Wuhan Centers for Disease Control.
While initially dismissed by various politicians and members of the media as a conspiracy theory, the lab-leak theory garnered renewed attention after the Wall Street Journal reported that staff at the WIV were hospitalized in November 2019, before the first known case of coronavirus was discovered.
President Biden has ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to produce a report on the origins of the pandemic before the end of August.