1978 saw the publication of Stephen King’s The Stand, a post-apocalyptic classic hinging on a pandemic that kills almost everybody on earth. A fatal influenza strain invented in secrecy in a lab in the United States has caused the pandemic.

Did a similar secret exercise take place in China? One conspiracy theory says, yes.

2011 saw the release of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, a prophetic tale in which a virus that finds victims across the world must be contained. In the meantime, people must take preventive measures such as wearing masks and maintain social distancing until a vaccine that can stop the invisible killer on its tracks is discovered.

As the pandemic continues to mess with our peace of mind, half the world has been asking a common question.

Where and how was the deadly virus born?

Many insist that China is the source of the problem. China, in turn, has said that the virus originated in the United States and some European countries, neither of which found support. Isolated and desperate, it continues to play blame games.

India had to join the list of nations whom China would have identified as Covid-19’s country of origin. That has happened with scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences claiming that the virus that was initially found in animals was transmitted to humans through contaminated water.

The argument insists that “The water shortage made wild animals such as monkeys engage in the deadly fight over water among each other and would have surely increased the chance of human-wild animal interactions…India’s poor healthcare system and young population allowed the virus to spread undetected for several months.”

What these scientists affirm has nothing scientific about it, and it is not supported by a single hint of verifiable evidence either. The ‘scientists’, in other words, seem to have been advised to distract or influence those who believe that Covid-19 came into being in China one way or the other.

Do we need such origin-of-birth theories right now? If genuine science can detect how and where the virus was born, researchers can find ways to check its growth by assessing the conditions and striking at its roots. Sweeping statements disguised as scientific conclusions won’t convince anybody.

It would do nobody any harm if nations worldwide were to solely concentrate on teamwork to produce that one reliable vaccine that will be affordable, accessible and can silence the rampaging killer as soon as possible.

The old normal needs to return. The United States knows it. So does Kenya, and Germany, and China.

China must prove to the world that it is an ally of all nations in their collective warfare against the pandemic. By cooking up stories in its kitchen of fiction, the secretive nation isn’t helping itself.

Biswadeep Ghosh

Biswadeep Ghosh is an author and freelance journalist. He has been a part of the India media for three decades. Among his books is MSD: The Man The Leader, the bestselling biography of cricketer MS Dhoni....