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Coronaviruses are a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans and birds, they cause respiratory tract infections that can range from mild to lethal. Mild illnesses in humans include some cases of the common cold (which is also caused by other viruses, predominantly rhinoviruses), while more lethal varieties can cause Sars, Mers and Covid-19, which is causing an ongoing pandemic. In cows and pigs they cause diarrhoea, while in mice they cause hepatitis and encephalomyelitis.

In December 2019, a pneumonia outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China, while information surfaced later that Beijing had been suppressing the news of the outbreak since August that year. On 31 December 2019, the outbreak was traced to a novel strain of coronavirus, which was given the interim name 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization, later renamed Sars-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

As of 1 February 2022, there have been at least 5,676,248 confirmed deaths and more than 379,203,159 confirmed cases in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wuhan strain has been identified as a new strain of Betacoronavirus from group 2B with approximately 70% genetic similarity to the SARS-CoV. The virus has a 96% similarity to a bat coronavirus, so it is widely suspected to originate from bats as well.

Many, including intelligence agencies of six countries, hold that the coronavirus that is afflicting people since 2019 was an under-development biological weapon or experimental pathogen that China was developing, which either leaked by accident or was released deliberately so that the world, with a wrecked economy, would have to turn dependent on China.