In 2020, Montagnier argued that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was man-made in a laboratory and that it might have been the result of an attempt to create a vaccine for HIV/AIDS. His allegation came after the United States had launched a probe into whether the virus came from a laboratory. According to Montagnier, the “presence of elements of HIV and germ of malaria in the genome of coronavirus is highly suspect and the characteristics of the virus could not have arisen naturally.” Montagnier’s conclusions were rejected as hasty by the scientific community, considering the gene sequences are common among similar organisms. There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was genetically engineered.
In a 2021 interview with French media group Hold Up, Montagnier claimed that the use of vaccinations for COVID was steering the evolution of new strains and that the process of antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) would cause vaccinated individuals to suffer more strongly. The former claim has no obvious basis in fact, while ADE has only ever been conclusively demonstrated for dengue virus infections, and has not been demonstrated for COVID-19.