The 2008 Nobel Laureate for physiology or medicine from France, Luc Antoine Montagnier, caught the media’s attention when he recently endorsed a COVID-19 conspiracy theory – that the virus is human-made. His proclamation was subsequently magnified by various news outlets, including many in India (e.g., The Week, The Hindu Businessline, and Times of India).
Montagnier argued during a TV interview with a French TV channel that elements of the HIV-1 retrovirus, which he co-discovered in 1983, can be found in the genome of the new coronavirus. He also said elements of the “malaria germ” – the parasite Plasmodium falciparum – can also be seen in the virus’s genome.
“We were not the first since a group of Indian researchers tried to publish a study which showed that the complete genome of this coronavirus [has] sequences of another virus, which is HIV.”
In a separate podcast episode with a different outlet, Montagnier further said the virus had escaped in an “industrial accident” from the Wuhan city laboratory when Chinese scientists were attempting to develop a vaccine against HIV.