The Strawman (General)
The oldest trick in the book - involves projecting a radicalised voice onto your adversary - then using that to underpin your own arguments.
In this case five professors distorted the “escaped accidentally from an Wuhan lab” to “purposefully manipulated virus” let loose. As W. Ian Lipkin, one of the authors, puts it in an interview with This Week in Virology:
"And then you had all these conspiracy theories that didn’t help either - the notion somehow that it was a deliberately manufactured biological weapon that was created at Wuhan Institute of Virology - this sort of foolishness slowed us down and prevented what could have been more productive interactions. The rumours they have their own life - i don’t know how they’re sustained but they seem to be sustained - there doesn’t seem to be any good way to choke them."
Meanwhile, another group of scientists initiated a petition declaring:
“The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data (by China) on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.
We support the call from the Director-General of WHO to promote scientific evidence and unity over misinformation and conjecture.”
That's just stupid coz at this stage everything is conjecture, but in essence, the strawman is just bait - get someone to take it - then you’ve got them defending the extreme level trope that you’ve introduced. Politicians do it all the time. Now our leading scientists are in on the act.
Normally you should avoid such arguments like the plague, but seeing how the plague has dominated our input, i’m gonna take the bait, just for the fun of it.