Although the poll found wide support amongst Americans that the government engaged in a cover-up, the survey tended to breakdown along ideological grounds with more Republicans and independents supporting the idea than Democrats.
“Seventy-four percent (74%) of Republicans consider a cover-up to be at least somewhat likely,” said the survey, followed by independents at 52% and Democrats at 45%.
Until recently, the idea that the virus escaped from a lab in China had been dismissed out of hand by so-called fact-checkers as a conspiracy theory.
“Outrageous.” @BillMaher railed against Facebook and Google for banning and suppressing content about lab leak. “You were wrong, Google and Facebook….The CDC’s been wrong about a lot shit, this is outrageous that I can’t look this information up.” #RealTime pic.twitter.com/28dwaQGz9W
— Brent Baker (@BrentHBaker) June 26, 2021
The year of censorship likely only reinforced the public’s concern about the origin and purpose of the virus.
According to the survey, 56% of Americans now also think that the Chinese government created the COVID-19 virus in a laboratory as a biological weapon.
The theory that the virus emerged from a lab in Wuhan gained credence in December 2020, following a State Department memo that cited undisclosed illnesses emerging from the lab in November of 2019.
“Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report,” wrote the Wall Street Journal in May, after damning congressional testimony by coronavirus czar Anthony Fauci brought the suspicious under further scrutiny.
Whether by happenstance or design, the lab-leak theory first gained mainstream media traction as the Biden administration faced a troublesome first-quarter jobs report that showed increasing vaccination rates and a large-scale decline in reporting new cases of COVID had failed to jump-start the post-lockdown economy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly followed suit by rolling back nationwide mask mandates.
Around the same time as Fauci admitted he did not know if China had pursued controversial gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, news surfaced that a Lawrence Livermore Laboratory division tasked with U.S. biodefense found last year that the lab-leak theory was “plausible and warranted further investigation.”
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.