The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread disinformation circulating on social media globally. This includes false information about the virus, its origins and possible cures for the disease it causes. Much of the inaccurate information was related to China, the country where the first cases of an atypical pneumonia were reported in December 2019. This was determined in January 2020 to be caused by a novel coronavirus.
Although the precise origin of the virus is still unknown, a major investigation by the World Health Organisation found that markets that sold animals were a probable source. Alternative theories, such as that the virus escaped from a laboratory, were almost entirely ruled out. Yet, this is one of the misinformation theories that have been circulating widely. The Chinese state itself also engaged in disinformation in an attempt to overturn the narrative.