News of Nobel-laureate Japanese professor Dr Tasuku Honjo saying that COVID-19 is not natural, but man-made is doing rounds in the social media. But here is why it is a fake news and here are details stating that Dr. Honjo never made that statement.
Dr. Tasuku Honjo won Nobel prize in 2018 for medicine, and is a professor at Kyoto University in Japan. Clarifying this as a false claim, a Ph.D. student Alok Kumar, who is being guided by the professor, said in his Facebook account that, "This is a fake news. All the information written here are wrong.. He did not say anything like that. Please stop sharing such fake news."
The message circulating on WhatsApp and Facebook stated: "Japan's professor of Physiology or Medicine, Professor Dr. Tasuku Honjo coronavirus is not natural. If it is natural, it wouldn't have adversely affected entire world like this because as per nature, temperature is different in different countries. If it is natural, it would have adversely affected only those countries having same temperature as China. If it were natural, it would have spread in cold places, but died in hot places," the message stated.
Further claims were made in the message that the professor has 40 years of research on animals and viruses. "I have worked for 4 years in the Wuhan laboratory of China. I am fully acquainted with all the staff of that laboratory. I have been trying to connect to them after the Corona accident, but their phones are dead for least 3 months. It is now understood that all these lab technicians have died. If what I am saying today is proved false, the government can withdraw my Nobel Prize," the social media messages claim.
False claim on Twitter
Another message circulating in Twitter with the handle named Human being under the ID @TasukuHonjo states: "I do not know for what purpose the corona virus has been produced, but I can definitely say that it is man-made."
After messages that the coronavirus was made in a Wuhan lab claiming it was a statement from Prof. Tasuku Honjo started making rounds, the Twitter handle @TasukuHonjo stated: "I want to make you sure that fake news is being spread in India. I have not said anything about Wuhan(China) Laboratory on #coronavirus."
Alok Kumar claimed this as fake news and said that the account is not verified and does not belong to his professor Tasuku Honjo. In an email sent to News Meter that also burst the 'coronavirus man-made claims' as fake, Alok said, "The twitter handle you mentioned does not belong to Prof. Tasuku Honjo. it is created by someone possibly with malicious intentions. Please stop this fake news. "When checked the Twitter handle was created in April 2020 and the first tweet was made only on April 24.
Suing the Wuhan connection
Another claim was made under Tasuku Honjo's name was that he had worked in the Wuhan lab for four years. But reports claim that the Nobel laureate professor has been teaching full-time at Kyoto University from 1984 to 2005. His current profile states that he is a professor at the Department of Immunology and Genomic Medicine at Kyoto University. He has never worked in the Wuhan Lab, states his biography.
According to Wikipedia, he is a member of the Japanese Society for Immunology and served as its President between 1999 and 2000. He is also an honorary member of the American Association of Immunologists. In 2017 he became Deputy Director-General and Distinguished Professor of Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study (KUIAS). There is absolutely no mention of him working in the Wuhan Lab. Thus making the claim that he had stated on Wuhan lab false.