There is no evidence that Tasuku Honjo, the 2018 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, said coronavirus was man-made in a lab in Wuhan, China. In late April 2020, a message spread through Facebook and WhatsApp purporting to be the words of Professor Tasuku Honjo. In it, Honjo allegedly says that coronavirus is “not natural.” The post also alleges that Honjo worked in a lab in Wuhan for four years. The post then says that Honjo has been unable to contact his colleagues from his time in Wuhan for the past three months.
In 2018, Honjo shared the Nobel Prize with James Allison for his work in cancer therapy. According to the Nobel Prize committee website, the pair were given the award “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.”
The Facebook Post Claims Honjo Said: ‘Coronavirus Did Not Come From Bats. China Manufactured it.’
The Facebook post purporting that Honjo made the claims reads:
If it is natural, it wouldn’t have adversely affected the entire world like this. Because, as per nature, temperature is different in different countries. If it is natural, it would adversely affect only those countries having the same temperature as China. Instead, it is spreading in a country like Switzerland, in the same way it is spreading in the desert areas. Whereas if it were natural, it would have spread in cold places, but died in hot places.
I have done 40 years of research on animals and viruses. It is not natural. It is manufactured and the virus is completely artificial. I have worked for 4 years in the Wuhan laboratory in China. I am fully acquainted with all the staff of that laboratory. I have been phoning them all, after the Coronavirus surfaced. But all their phones are dead for the last 3 months. It is now understood that all these lab technicians have died.
Based on all my knowledge and research till date, I can say this with 100% confidence – That the Coronavirus is not natural. It did not come from bats. China manufactured it. If what I am saying today is proved false now or even after my death, the government can withdraw my Nobel Prize. China is lying and this truth will one day be revealed to everyone.
There Is No Evidence That Professor Honjo Ever Worked in Wuhan
Some versions of the post include a link to Honjo’s Wikipedia page. There is nothing on that page about Honjo working in a lab in Wuhan. There is also no mention of Honjo working in Wuhan on his Nobel Prize profile. That page mentions Honjo’s work in the United States in the 1970s and at Tokyo University, Osaka University and Kyoto University. Honjo has been a professor at Kyoto University since 1984.
In a statement to the Indian news site News Meter, Alok Kumar, a Ph.D. student working with Honjo at Kyoto University, said, “Prof. Honjo never worked in Wuhan laboratory. He never called there. He did not work on virus origin and functions and other related issues. All the contents are just concocted and nothing else.”
Heavy has reached out to Kumar for further clarification.
Honjo Has Made Public Statements on Coronavirus, But They Are About the Science Behind Fighting Infectious Diseases
The most recent public comments that Heavy could find from Honjo come from an April 10 interview the professor gave to Nikkei Asian Review. During that interview, Honjo made no reference to coronavirus being man-made. Honjo spoke about the difficulty that the medical community has in responding to new infectious diseases.
Data from Google Trends shows that searches for Honjo’s name have increased dramatically since April 20. On April 25, searches were up by 100 percent.