Meghan May, a university professor who researches emerging diseases, seemed an unlikely person to contribute to misinformation about the novel coronavirus. Yet last week, May, of the University of New England, shared a mea culpa on Twitter, owning up to unwittingly retweeting information that had origins in a Russian misinformation campaign.

The story that managed to evade her typically discerning sensors: a claim that a Chinese Internet company had accidentally released death and infection totals — ones that exceeded official estimates — before quickly scrubbing evidence of them online. If true, May said at the time, the numbers indicated that the outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan was far more severe than the public was warned about.

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