OTTAWA: Nearly half of Canadians subscribe to coronavirus conspiracy theories, including debunked miracle cures, notions of a 5G cover-up or that the virus was engineered in a Chinese lab, according to a new study.

The School of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa surveyed 2,000 Canadians and found that 46 percent believe in at least one of four key myths circulating online.

“This high rate is alarming because conspiracy theories risk overwhelming an already overwhelmed health system,” study co-author and Carleton professor Sarah Everts said on Thursday.

The fear, she said, is that people won’t take the COVID-19 threat seriously and will ignore public health guidance such as social distancing, opening the door to a resurgence of the outbreak.

The top fake, according to the study, that the coronavirus was engineered as a bioweapon in a Chinese lab and released into the general population, was believed by 26 per cent of Canadians.

Another 11 per cent of respondents said they thought COVID-19 is not a serious illness but was being spread to cover up alleged harmful health effects associated with exposure to 5G wireless technology.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2020