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The COVID-19 pandemic is the largest human experiment of all time.

COVID-19 is not a man-made or a controlled phenomenon, but an unexpected, highly infectious disease.

The claim that COVID-19 is a large-scale "experiment" is not new. Conspiracy theorists have blamed the pharmaceutical industry, governments, powerful figures, and technology for the onset of the virus. All of those theories or claims usually involve the belief that a powerful few are attempting to control and monitor people's behavior and create profit.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the coronavirus discovered in late 2019. Seven coronaviruses can cause disease in humans. These viruses are found worldwide and are responsible for about 10-15% of common colds.

Usually, these viruses cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. The one discovered in 2019 is called SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes is COVID-19. For many, the virus can be symptomless or may cause flu-like symptoms, such as a cough or a high fever. For others, the virus can be far more serious and lead to pneumonia. To date (March 8, 2021), COVID-19 is thought to have killed 2.89 million people worldwide.

Many have falsely claimed that the virus was developed in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, and that it is an "experiment." There is no evidence for this. On March 30, 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) said that a visit to Wuhan had not provided enough conclusive evidence to pinpoint its origin. WHO has stated that all options on the virus's origins remain open.

Some have incorrectly claimed that the vaccination program is an experiment and that the vaccines are ineffective or unsafe. For example, some have stated that vaccinated children can develop certain disabilities.

Another conspiracy theory promotes the idea that vaccines and lockdown measures are unnecessary and that these are "experiments" or mass attempts by influential figures to control the population. Vaccine hesitancy existed long before the pandemic, but vaccines have consistently been safe. There has never been a credible study linking vaccines to long-term health problems.

Several media sites have stated that lockdowns are unintentional "psychological experiments." As people haven't been as socially isolated on such large a scale at any point in living memory, psychologists may be able to glean certain insights into human behavior.

While the authors of such headlines may not intend the phrase to be taken literally or to mislead people, it is still important to note that lockdowns are not experiments. An experiment is always a procedure that is intended to test hypotheses. Lockdowns are a public health and safety measure. The purpose of lockdowns is to protect people and to halt infection rates, not to test how people will react to them.

While this conclusion is not comprehensive, and there may be other instances in which COVID-19 has been described as an experiment, there is no evidence to support this claim.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.

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