"That alone should give people a break," said Dr. Rasmussen on the team's connection with Mr. Bannon's nonprofit.
Dr. Yan and her colleagues did not respond to a request for comment.
Their original paper – known as "the Yan Report" – was also picked up by thousands online and reported in the New York Post, although experts were quick to debunk its findings. Researchers called it unscientific and said it ignored the plethora of data suggesting the virus' natural origins.
Close relatives of the new coronavirus exist in bats. The virus may have passed directly from bats to humans, or it may have first jumped into another animal, such as a pangolin, before passing into humans. Both scenarios previously played out with other pathogens.
"We have a very good picture of how this type of virus can circulate and spread to humans," said Brandon Ogbunu, a disease ecologist at Yale University.
It may take some time to determine exactly which animals along this chain of transmission harbored the virus, if scientists ever do – with some parts of the history of the virus inevitably remaining ambiguous. Like many other conspiracy theories, the laboratory hypothesis "exploits the open questions in an ongoing investigation," said Dr. Ogbunu.
However, to date there is no evidence of a synthetic source for the virus.
Dr. Yan's Twitter account was banned in September 2020 to fuel disinformation about coronavirus. She shared the "second Yan report" from a second Twitter account, which has gained more than 34,000 followers.
In the Dr. Work written by Yan and her colleagues will jointly set out what they identified as anomalies in the coronavirus genome sequence. They suggested that these unusual features suggested that the virus's genome had been deliberately put together and modified, using genetic material from other viruses – a kind of Frankenstein's monster pathogen, said Dr. Yan told Fox News in September. The coronavirus cousins identified in bats were also counterfeit, man-made designs, allegedly defeating the natural origin hypothesis.