Rushed research in the time of pandemic panic has led to questionable research and conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus – but genetic analysis of the virus has shown that it is highly unlikely that it originated in a lab.

With the entry of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus responsible for Covid-19 – into the human population and the rapid spread of the pandemic, the general public as well as the medical and broader scientific communities have been bombarded by an extraordinary number of articles in scientific journals and on pre-publication servers, as well as in popular media, including social media. This has led to a change in publication norms, with expedited publications reaching the public within days of receipt and preprint servers being close to overwhelmed.

While this has allowed for worldwide dissemination and research efficiency on an unprecedented scale, it is no surprise that some questionable research has slipped through. As shown in the past, a single “bad” paper can overshadow many more legitimate ones. To combat this, many preprint servers and publishers now have filters – but is it too little, too late?

Many conspiracy theories regarding the origins of SARS-CoV-2 have taken hold, partly due…

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