The deadly COVID-19, aka coronavirus, is slowly sweeping across the globe. In the grip of it, people are hoarding face masks, getting their food supplies ready, and shutting their doors to the outside world altogether. A pharmacist from Hong Kong has described the chaos: “it’s like World War III.”

As if the panic levels weren’t high enough already, PETA decided to add some fuel to the fire. The American animal rights organization couldn’t help but share the news of a newly found link between the viral epidemic and the practice of eating animals in their Twitter post. “Carnivorous is an anagram of coronavirus. Coincidence? We think NOT!” reads the text. Apparently, PETA backs up their claim with scientific knowledge: “Scientists have a hunch that contact with animal lives or their dead flesh may be the source of the deadly virus.”

But giving such food for thought to the smart bunch of people on Twitter is like pulling a tiger’s tail—you are likely to get roasted like a barbecue. PETA, don’t say that you didn’t see this coming. Because we know you did. So, after you’re done with this story, take a look at previous PETA roasts here, here and here. Okay, and here.

Bored Panda contacted professor Paul Hunter from The Norwich School of Medicine in order to separate facts from fiction when it comes to coronavirus.

PETA puts it all on the table in their questionable statement

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Twitter users enjoyed the opportunity to make some fun out of it

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Professor Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia shed some light on PETA’s controversial statement: “the anagram of coronavirus and carnivorous being the same is entirely coincidence. Coronavirus is named after its ‘crown’ as seen by an electron microscope.” The origin of this virus is indeed linked to animals, since “the virus responsible for COVID-19 is almost certainly derived from bats. The virus is unlikely to have jumped directly from bats to humans, but will have most probably infected an intermediate wild mammal.”

The initial human cases are not connected to the practice of meat-eating, but humans could have been “infected during the slaughter or butchery of these animals. However, since that initial jump, all subsequent cases will have been spread from person to person.” The professor adds that the same thing happened with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) but “we didn’t learn our lessons from that outbreak.”

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Prof. Hunter is convinced that the spread of fake news and misinformation in regards to this epidemic is worse than ever before. “We recently published some work trying to estimate the impact of fake news on infectious disease epidemics. In that, we reported a study that Africans who believed fake news and conspiracy theories were less likely to adopt safe funeral practices and so more likely to catch the disease and die.”  That’s why “I, like the WHO [World Health Organization], are very worried about circulating misinformation.”

It’s now clear that we are getting close to the point of a global pandemic and it’s inevitable. “The epidemic in China looks like it is being brought under control, but the last few days have seen a rapid increase in cases globally. If we do get to that point, I do not know how many people will get the illness or die. From the Chinese experience, deaths will almost certainly be in the 100s of thousands, if not greater.” If we can still manage to control it, “global fatalities will remain in the 10s of thousands.”

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Bored Panda contacted PETA and asked for a comment regarding their controversial statement. PETA’s president Ingrid Newkirk has told us in her statement:

“Scientists in China have linked the coronavirus to bats and snakes—and it’s been widely reported that the virus appears to have originated in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where these and other animals are sold as food. Any health authority will confirm—as has been widely reported in the media—that most influenza viruses and coronaviruses are zoonotic (transmissible from other animals to humans). Filthy farms and markets crammed full of sick animals are breeding grounds for deadly maladies, as we saw with bird flu and SARS, which killed more than 900 people in just nine months. As the current coronavirus spreads, PETA is urging the public to cut off animal-borne pathogens at the source by going vegan.”

It seems that PETA is not ready to surrender.

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