An open letter signed by 27 scientists who have closely followed the emergence of the novel coronavirus virus outbreak called for support for medical professional in China and condemned conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus.
"We want you, the science and health professionals of China, to know that we stand with you in your fight against this virus," said the statement published in Lancet, the world's leading independent general medical journal, on February 18.
They also spoke highly of Chinese medical professionals who "rapidly identified the pathogen behind this outbreak, put in place significant measures to reduce its impact, and share their results transparently with the global health community."
However, this rapid, open and transparent sharing of data is being threatened by rumors and misinformation, which suggest that the virus was man-made and originated in a laboratory, rather than in nature.
The scientists voiced strong opposition to and condemned these conspiracy theories, adding that research by scientists from multiple countries has concluded that this novel coronavirus originated in wildlife, which is further supported by a letter from the presidents of the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
"Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumors and prejudice that jeopardize our global collaboration in the fight against this virus," the scientists said, calling instead for scientific evidence and unity against misinformation and conjecture.
The 27 scientists are from universities and research institutes from different countires, regions and organizations, including the U.S., Australia, Spain, Netherlands, Malaysia, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.