Was There a Wuhan Lab Leak?

Jonathan Cook says an inquiry won’t dig out the truth. It will deepen the deception. 

President Joe Biden tours the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health Laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland, on Feb. 11. Dr. Anthony Faucci, chief medical adviser to the president, on his left. (White House, Adam Schultz)

By Jonathan Cook

A year ago, the idea that Covid-19 leaked from a lab in Wuhan – a short distance from the wet market that is usually claimed to be the source of the virus – was dismissed as a crackpot theory, supported only by then President Donald Trump, QAnon and hawks on the right looking to escalate tensions dangerously with China.

Now, after what has been effectively a year-long blackout of the lab-leak theory by the corporate media and the scientific establishment, President Joe Biden has announced an investigation to assess its credibility. And as a consequence, what was treated until a few weeks ago as an unhinged, rightwing conspiracy is suddenly being widely aired and seriously considered by liberals.

Every media outlet is running prominent stories wondering whether a pandemic that has killed so many people and destroyed the lives of so many more can be blamed on human hubris and meddling rather than on a natural cause.

For many years, scientists at labs like Wuhan’s have conducted Frankenstein-type experiments on viruses. They have modified naturally occurring infective agents — often found in animals such as bats — to try to predict the worst-case scenarios for how viruses, especially coronaviruses, might evolve. The claimed purpose has been to ensure humankind gets a head start on any new pandemic, preparing strategies and vaccines in advance to cope.

Viruses are known to have escaped from labs like Wuhan’s many times before. And there are now reports, rejected by China, that several staff at Wuhan got sick in late 2019, shortly before Covid-19 exploded on to the world stage. Did a human-manipulated novel coronavirus escape from the lab and spread around the world?

No Interest in Truth

Here we get to the tricky bit. Because nobody in a position to answer that question appears to have any interest in finding out the truth — or at least, they have no interest in the rest of us learning the truth. Not China. Not U.S. policy-makers. Not the World Health Organization. And not the corporate media.

The only thing we can state with certainty is this: our understanding of the origins of Covid has been narratively managed over the past 15 months and is still being narratively managed. We are being told only what suits powerful political, scientific and commercial interests.

We now know that we were misdirected a year ago into believing that a lab leak was either fanciful nonsense or evidence of Sinophobia — when it was very obviously neither. And we should understand now, even though the story has switched 180 degrees, that we are still being misdirected. Nothing that the U.S.  administration or the corporate media have told us, or are now telling us, about the origins of the virus can be trusted.

No one in power truly wants to get to the bottom of this story. In fact, quite the reverse. Were we to truly understand its implications, this story might have the potential not only to hugely discredit Western political, media and scientific elites but even to challenge the whole ideological basis on which their power rests.

Which is why what we are seeing is not an effort to grapple with the truth of the past year, but a desperate bid by those same elites to continue controlling our understanding of it. Western publics are being subjected to a continuous psy-op by their own officials.

Virus Experiments

Last year, the safest story for the Western political and scientific establishments to promote was the idea that a wild animal like a bat introduced Covid-19 to the human population. In other words, no one was to blame. The alternative was to hold China responsible for a lab leak, as Trump tried to do.

But there was a very good reason why most U.S. policy-makers did not want to go down that latter path. And it had little to do with a concern either to refrain from conspiracy theories or to avoid provoking unnecessary tension with a nuclear-armed China.

Nicholas Wade in 2005. (Jane Gitschier, CC BY 2.5, Wikimedia Commons)

Nicholas Wade, a former New York Times science writer, set out in May, in an in-depth investigation, why the case for a lab leak was scientifically strong, citing some of the world’s leading virologists.

But Wade also highlighted a much deeper problem for U.S. elites:  just before the first outbreak of Covid, the Wuhan lab was, it seems, cooperating with the U.S. scientific establishment and WHO officials on its virus experiments — what is known, in scientific parlance, as “gain-of-function” research.

Gain-of-function experiments had been paused during the second Obama administration, precisely because of concerns about the danger of a human-engineered virus mutation escaping and creating a pandemic. But under Trump, U.S. officials restarted the program and were reportedly funding work at the Wuhan lab through a U.S.-based medical organization called the EcoHealth Alliance.

The U.S. official who pushed this agenda hardest is reported to have been Dr. Anthony Fauci – yes, the U.S. president’s chief medical adviser and the official widely credited with curbing Trump’s reckless approach to the pandemic. If the lab leak theory is right, the pandemic’s savior in the U.S. might actually have been one of its chief instigators.

[Related: COVID-19: Fauci Backed Strengthening of Viruses Despite Admitting Risk of Pandemic, Australian Newspaper Reports]

And to top it off, senior officials at the WHO have been implicated too, for being closely involved with gain-of-function research through groups like EcoHealth.

Colluding in Deceit

This seems to be the real reason why the lab-leak theory was quashed so aggressively last year by Western political, medical and media establishments without any effort to seriously assess the claims or investigate them. Not out of any sense of obligation towards the truth or concern about racist incitement against the Chinese. It was done out of naked self-interest.

Peter Daszak. (Twitter)

If anyone doubts that, consider this: the WHO appointed Peter Daszak, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, the very group that reportedly funded gain-of-function research at Wuhan on behalf of the U.S., to investigate the lab-leak theory and effectively become the WHO’s spokesman on the matter. To say that Daszak had a conflict of interest is to massively understate the problem.

He, of course, has loudly discounted any possibility of a leak and, perhaps not surprisingly, continues to direct the media’s attention to Wuhan’s wet market.

The extent to which major media are not only negligently failing to cover the story with any seriousness but are also actively continuing to collude in deceiving their audiences — and sweeping these egregious conflicts of interest under the carpet — is illustrated by this article published by the BBC at the weekend.

The BBC ostensibly weighs the two possible narratives about Covid’s origins. But it mentions none of Wade’s explosive findings, including the potential U.S. role in funding gain-of-function research at Wuhan. Both Fauci and Daszak are cited as trusted and dispassionate commentators rather than as figures who have the most to lose from a serious investigation into what happened at the Wuhan lab.

Given this context, the events of the past 15 months look much more like a pre-emptive cover-up: a desire to stop the truth from ever emerging because, if a lab leak did occur, it would threaten the credibility of the very structures of authority on which the power of western elites rests.

Media Blackout

So why, after the strenuously enforced blackout of the past year, are Biden, the corporate media and the scientific establishment suddenly going public with the possibility of a China lab leak?

The answer to that seems clear: because Nicholas Wade’s article, in particular, blew open the doors that had been kept tightly shut on the lab-leak hypothesis. Scientists who had formerly feared being associated with Trump or a “conspiracy theory” have belatedly spoken up. The cat is out of the bag.

Or as The Financial Times reported of the new official narrative, “the driving factor was a shift among scientists who had been wary of helping Trump before the election or angering influential scientists who had dismissed the theory.”

The journal Science recently upped the stakes by publishing a letter from 18 prominent scientists stating that the lab-leak and animal-origin theories were equally “viable” and that the WHO’s earlier investigation had not given “balanced consideration” to both — a polite way of suggesting that the WHO investigation was a fix.

WHO headquarters in Geneva.  (I, Yann, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

And so we are now being subjected by the Biden administration to Plan B: damage limitation. The U.S. president, the medical establishment and the corporate media are raising the possibility of a Wuhan lab leak, but are excluding all the evidence unearthed by Wade and others that would implicate Fauci and the U.S. policy elite in such a leak, if it occurred. (Meanwhile, Fauci and his supporters have been preemptively muddying the waters by trying to redefine what constitutes gain-of-function.)

The growing clamor on social media, much of it provoked by Wade’s research, is one of the main reasons Biden and the media are being forced to address the lab-leak theory, having previously discounted it. And yet Wade’s revelations of U.S. and WHO involvement in gain-of-function research, and of potential complicity in a lab leak and a subsequent cover-up are missing from almost all corporate media reporting.

Evasion Tactic

Biden’s so-called investigation is intended to be cynically evasive. It makes the administration look serious about getting to the truth when it is nothing of the sort. It eases pressure on the corporate media that might otherwise be expected to dig out the truth themselves. The narrow focus on the lab leak theory displaces the wider story of potential U.S. and WHO complicity in such a leak and overshadows efforts by outside critics to highlight that very point. And the inevitable delay while the investigation is carried out readily exploits Covid news fatigue as Western publics start to emerge from under the pandemic’s shadow.

The Biden administration will hope the public’s interest rapidly wanes on this story so that the corporate media can let it drop off their radar. In any case, the investigation’s findings will most likely be inconclusive, to avoid a war of dueling narratives with China.

But even if the investigation is forced to point the finger at the Chinese, the Biden administration knows that the Western corporate media will loyally report its accusations against China as fact —  just as they loyally blacked out any consideration of a lab leak until they were forced to do so over the past few days.

Illusion of Truth

Wuhan Institute of Virology is a research institute by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Jiangxia District, south of the Wuhan city, Hubei province, China. (Ureem2805/Wikimedia Commons)

The Wuhan story provides a chance to understand more deeply how elites wield their narrative power over us — to control what we think, or are even capable of thinking. They can twist any narrative to their advantage.

In the calculations of Western elites, the truth is largely irrelevant. What is of utmost importance is maintaining the illusion of truth. It is vital to keep us believing that our leaders rule in our best interests; that the Western system — despite all its flaws — is the best possible one for arranging our political and economic lives; and that we are on a steady, if sometimes rocky, path towards progress.

The job of sustaining the illusion of truth falls to the corporate media. It will be their role now to expose us to a potentially lengthy, certainly lively — but carefully ring-fenced and ultimately inconclusive — debate about whether Covid emerged naturally or leaked from the Wuhan lab.

The media’s task is to manage smoothly the transition from last year’s unquestionable certainty — that the pandemic had an animal origin — to a more hesitant, confusing picture that includes the possibility of a human, but very much Chinese, role in the virus’ emergence. It is to ensure we do not feel any cognitive dissonance as a theory we were assured was impossible by the experts only weeks ago suddenly becomes only too possible, even though nothing has materially changed in the meantime.

What is essential for the political, media and scientific establishments is that we do not ponder deeper questions:

  • How is it that the supposedly skeptical, disputatious, raucous media once again spoke mostly with a single and uncritical voice on such a vitally important matter — in this case, for more than a year on the origins of Covid?
  • Why was that media consensus broken not by a large, well-resourced media organization, but by a lone, former science writer working independently and publishing in a relatively obscure science magazine?
  • Why did the many leading scientists who are now ready to question the imposed narrative of Covid’s animal origin remain silent for so long about the apparently equally credible hypothesis of a lab leak?
  • And most importantly, why should we believe that the political, media and scientific establishments have on this occasion any interest in telling us the truth, or in ensuring our welfare, after they have been shown to have repeatedly lied or stayed silent on even graver matters and over much longer periods, such as about the various ecological catastrophes that have been looming since the 1950s?

Class Interests

Those questions, let alone the answers, will be avoided by anyone who needs to believe that our rulers are competent and moral and that they pursue the public good rather than their own individual, narrow, selfish interests — or those of their class or professional group.

Scientists defer slavishly to the scientific establishment because that same establishment oversees a system in which scientists are rewarded with research funding, employment opportunities and promotions. And because scientists have little incentive to question or expose their own professional community’s failings, or increase public skepticism towards science and scientists.

Similarly, journalists work for a handful of billionaire-owned media corporations that want to maintain the public’s faith in the “benevolence” of the power structures that reward billionaires for their supposed genius and ability to improve the lives of the rest of us. The corporate media has no interest in encouraging the public to question whether it can really operate as a neutral conduit that channels information to ordinary people rather than preserves a status quo that benefits a tiny wealth-elite.

And politicians have every reason to continue to persuade us that they represent our interests rather than the billionaire donors whose corporations and media outlets can so easily destroy their careers.

What we are dealing with here is a set of professional classes doing everything in their power to preserve their own interests and the interests of the system that rewards them. And that requires strenuous efforts on their part to make sure we do not understand that policy is driven chiefly by greed and a craving for status, not by the common good or by a concern for truth and transparency.

Which is why no meaningful lessons will be learnt about what really happened in Wuhan. Maintaining the illusion of truth will continue to take precedence over uncovering the truth. And for that reason we are doomed to keep making the same screw-ups. As the next pandemic will doubtless attest.

Jonathan Cook is a former Guardian journalist (1994-2001) and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. He is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth. If you appreciate his articles, please consider offering your financial support.

This article is from his blog Jonathan Cook.net. 

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

18 comments for “Was There a Wuhan Lab Leak?

  1. Patrick
    June 5, 2021 at 15:20

    Where are the chain of custody documents for the bats from the Wuhan lab?
    In China, unscrupulous people have sold poisoned infant formula. Is it a leap to think a lab tech sold research bats from the to the wet market in Wuhan instead of destroying them?

  2. comos
    June 5, 2021 at 05:35

    I doubt we’ll ever get to the bottom of this either. But much of the rhetoric surrounding this seems, well, out of hand. Does the media manipulate us into believing falsehoods? I don’t think anyone would be reading Consortium News if they didn’t already think that was the case. But is this a good example of the media narrative control? Mmm, I’m not so sure. So the media is changing its tune. Are we being led around by the nose on this issue? Of course. But why? Actually, this is simply a matter of speculation right now, although reading this article I get the sense that some people think they have already got it figured out.

    Maybe the media shouldn’t have been so dismissive the first time about “lab origin,” I don’t know. I never trusted what Trump said on Covid, or much else for that matter, which seemed like a reasonable point of view to take at the time (and still does). That the lab theory was just another bit of nonsense he had said made sense to me when he said it.

    So what does this media “change of heart” mean? One gets the sense that some voices are really pulling out the knives of this issue, right? And wandering into the fray like that, everyone knowing this issue is so hopelessly political (and has been since it came up a year ago) that it will never be factually “proven,” just like Cook states above. Who gains from this overt political act? That is the most salient question I can think of. Does Cook gain? I don’t know; to be honest I don’t think this theory does help him over there in Nazareth. Do I gain? I don’t know, probably not. Since this “whole new mess” is merely political and “no facts will be established, sir,” nobody will actually lose anything from such sniping. But who gains? The only people who I can think of will actually gain from this, out there in the political sphere, are those who have been pushing this theory all along (because it still is only a theory, right?) Who was that? What vindication is this in the political realm? And why should I accept this vindication?

    So before running off to light this fire, just think about who gains from these petty bourgeois political games, and how maybe running and gunning on this self-declared, fact-free trail ride, may not really be advancing us in the right direction. Who really gains? In all honesty, last word: we, us together, do not gain, if I may humbly say so.

    • Matt
      June 5, 2021 at 16:09

      There is a quote often attributed to Orwell that may shed some light on your stated quandary; “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

      There is, of course, as of yet, no truth, just a widespread and growing discontent among *scientists and science writers* (the only opinions worth listening to) about the “zoonotic” pathway to human transmission theory. We actually don’t know for certain if gain-of-function cannot be proven, that is just another narrative framework that muddies the debate. Indeed, circumstantial evidence favors gain-of-function origin.

      One reason to get to the bottom of the origins of the pandemic is—if it is man made—to make sure nothing like it ever happens again.

      It is up to the left wing media to a) rigorously follow scientific study on the issue (without falling prey to their own respective structural or intentionalist biases) in whatever direction it goes and report it honestly b) hold the line on any attempts by the US War Machine and it’s government mouthpieces to blame the virus on “the Communist Chinese government.”

      The most advanced GoF research emanates from the US and its partners, not China.

  3. Stephanie Hiller
    June 5, 2021 at 00:08

    Just ask Francis Boyle. He broke this story last April and was ignored.

  4. June 4, 2021 at 15:07

    We, founding members of Citizens’ Covid Origin Inquiry, announce the inauguration of our website hXXps://www.covidorigins.org/
    The site poses these fundamental questions:
    What is Covid-19? Where did it come from?
    Was it given “gain of function“ (GoF) in a laboratory to make it more virulent and contagious?
    Is COVID-19 a consequence of decades of U.S. biological weapons development?
    Why did the U.S. government fund a high-level biocontainment lab in Wuhan, China?
    Why have pathogens like coronaviruses been given U.S. patents?
    Selected articles and a timeline on U.S. bioweapon development provide answers to these and many other Covid-related questions.

    The site includes petitions calling for explicit prohibition of gain-of-function research, enforcement of the U.S. Biological Weapons
    Anti–Terrorism Act of 1989 by prosecuting those who continue to violate its prohibitions, and placement and enforcement of price
    regulation on pharmaceutical companies.

    We hope you will visit hXXps://covidorigins.org/ and, if you find it to be helpful in understanding the virus so impacting us
    and the rest of the world, that you will send it on to your friends, colleagues and other contacts and post it on relevant web
    and social media sites.

    We welcome others to join in our Citizens’ Inquiry in any way they can. Let us hear from you about any endeavors being
    planned or underway in your area and circles.

    In hopeful alliance for a path toward a safer and healthier future,

    Joe Brown, Richard Ochs, Sue Wheaton, Louis Wolf
    Engaged citizens in the Washington, DC and Baltimore areas

  5. evelync
    June 4, 2021 at 14:54

    Thanks for this article.
    Not sure if this is the definitive definition of Gain of Function but here’s how wikipedia currently describes it:
    “Gain of function research (GoFR) is a term used to describe any field of medical research which alters an organism or disease in a way that increases pathogenesis, transmissibility, or host range (the types of hosts that a microorganism can infect).[citation needed]

    A January 2020 article in Nature says this:
    “An expert panel is considering how much to reveal about a largely secret review process of ‘gain-of-function’ research.US disease researchers are pushing the government to be more transparent about federally funded research that involves making pathogens more deadly or more transmissible.”

    The Best and the Brightest – David Halberstam’s title for the intellectuals who brought the world the catastrophic War on Vietnam.

    Given the deaths and destruction when the Best and the Brightest think they can control the demons they create, one might simply ask “What could possibly go wrong”. But hubris gets in the way of common sense, it seems,
    The wise poet, Robbie Burns would tell us – did tell us this:
    “The Best Laid Plans ‘o Mice and Men Gang Aft Aglay”

  6. JonnyJames
    June 4, 2021 at 13:50

    I largely agree: with so many conflicts of interest, financial interests, politicization etc. we will likely never know how the virus originated. One question to ask: who benefits from the pandemic and who has already benefited?

    Big Pharma has been subsidized on the back end (R&D, distribution etc.) they have been subsidized on the retail end as well with the Fed gov. paying them obscene amounts of money. In addition, states have started to subsidize BigPharma further by offering financial incentives to get a vaccine.

    The 1% in general have made unprecedented financial gains due to the unlimited QE unleashed by the Fed almost immediately after the pandemic hit in March 2020 (how convenient). Near-zero interest rates, the continued de-regulated financial sector: stock buybacks, margin buying etc. have sent the stock market into Ponzi pyramid territory.

    Also, (albeit indirectly) the MIC has benefited by politicizing the issue to demonize China. With “The New Yellow Peril” and rampant China-bashing. The Trump/Biden regimes and the Congress Crooks are always eager to give more money for military and weapons budgets etc. This is not new, but it serves to ramp up the anti-China hysteria.

    I have no idea but about the CIA, DIA, DARPA etc.? I wonder to what extent they are involved in any of this?

    One thing is for sure, the pandemic has made the rich and powerful even more so. “We can’t let a crisis go to waste”

    • Revyn
      June 4, 2021 at 17:17

      Given everything we know about the CIA and DARPA’s history and operating procedures, it would be naive at best to think they are not heavily involved in the narrative control surrounding the conversation regarding the pandemic.

  7. M. Paterson
    June 4, 2021 at 13:00

    Totally agree with the article.
    In late 2020, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for a thorough independent investigation to discover the source of the Covid virus; how it was spread; and then reported.
    For this statement to parliament, Australia’s economy has been sabotaged by the CCP blocking or placing unrealistic tariffs on Australian goods, including coal.
    The Chinese government would rather their people starve and or suffer from the winter cold than lose “face” resuming imports from Australia.
    The elites in most countries are unmoved by the plight of their people, even now.
    Eventually they will get a rude wake up call perhaps in the form of another more severe world wide version of a “French Revolution”. Then God help us all.

    • S.P. Korolev
      June 5, 2021 at 02:52

      I doubt ScoMo gives a chlamydia-ridden Koala about the truth of the situation. When presented with a choice of a constructive economic relationship with a rising non-white, non-Western power and sacrificing Australia’s future on the altar of Western imperialism it probably took him less time than it takes to sink a VB throwie for him to choose the latter. If you think anyone is going cold or hungry in China for the lack of Aussie benificence you are sadly mistaken.

      ScoMo to his ambassador: “I’m sure those yellow dwarves are hurting by now, send them the terms of their surrender!”

      Xi to his ambassador: “Tell ‘im he’s dreaming, mate!”

  8. D-Mac
    June 4, 2021 at 05:14

    These “can’t help trump” scientist/dr.’s that remained quiet for a year are the poster children for the harm inflicted on society by allowing a media class/big tech to set and brutally enforce imaginary boundries on what speech is acceptable. Even in conservative circles one can barely discuss this outside of the context of an “intentional” Chinese plot (as if they would purposely set it loose on the doorstep of their own lab and risk it going off the rails in their own country). Seems it was likely accidental, china covered up to avoid the heat, and u.s. covered up to hide funding and bash trump. Now media and politicians are scrambling to reframe the narrative and prep the sacrificial lambs for a very possible repub led congress in 2022 and the hearings that surely follow.

  9. Watcher
    June 4, 2021 at 00:28

    Sadly, the discussion suffers from future shock.

    A fellow Guardian journalist detailed the state of the art synthetic biology:


    “Synthetic biology raises risk of new bioweapons, US report warns” by Ian Sample; The Guardian; 06/19/2018

    The rapid rise of synthetic biology, a futuristic field of science that seeks to master the machinery of life, has raised the risk of a new generation of bioweapons, according a major US report into the state of the art.

    Advances in the area mean that scientists now have the capability to recreate dangerous viruses from scratch; make harmful bacteria more deadly; and modify common microbes so that they churn out lethal toxins once they enter the body.

    The three scenarios are picked out as threats of highest concern in a review of the field published on Tuesday by the US National Academy of Sciences at the request of the Department of Defense. The report was commissioned to flag up ways in which the powerful technology might be abused, and to focus minds on how best to prepare.

    Michael Imperiale, chair of the report committee, and professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan, said the review used only unclassified information and so has no assessment of which groups, if any, might be pursuing novel biological weapons. “We can’t say how likely any of these scenarios are,” he said. “But we can talk about how feasible they are.”

    In the report, the scientists describe how synthetic biology, which gives researchers precision tools to manipulate living organisms, “enhances and expands” opportunities to create bioweapons. “As the power of the technology increases, that brings a general need to scrutinise where harms could come from,” said Peter Carr, a senior scientist at MIT’s Synthetic Biology Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    More than 20 years ago, Eckard Wimmer, a geneticist at Stony Brook University in New York, highlighted the potential dangers of synthetic biology in dramatic style when he recreated poliovirus in a test tube. Earlier this year, a team at the University of Alberta built an infectious horsepox virus. The virus is a close relative of smallpox, which may have claimed half a billion lives in the 20th century. Today, the genetic code of almost any mammalian virus can be found online and synthesised. “The technology to do this is available now,” said Imperiale. “It requires some expertise, but it’s something that’s relatively easy to do, and that is why it tops the list.”

    Other fairly simple procedures can be used to tweak the genes of dangerous bacteria and make them resistant to antibiotics, so that people infected with them would be untreatable. A more exotic bioweapon might come in the form of a genetically-altered microbe that colonises the gut and churns out poisons. “While that is technically more difficult, it is a concern because it may not look like anything you normally watch out for in public health,” Imperiale said. . . .

  10. Syd
    June 3, 2021 at 21:33

    The story that covid originated in a lab is getting so much play, including from journalists I respect like Cook, that I was almost ready to take the possibility seriously. Fortunately there’s a go-to podcast I can put stock in: long-running This Week in Virology, in which interviewers and interviewees are all microbiology experts. They had a show with three guests from the WHO team (including Daszak) that went to Wuhan and another show with a top US specialist. Bottom line: there is zero evidenced-based reason to suspect the virus originated in a lab and a vast array of solid, time-tested scientific evidence to think it originated in nature. The lab thesis is a merely a possibility, nothing more, no better evidenced than the possibility that future scientists travelled back through time or advanced aliens travelled from far space to release the virus (there is only the anonymous, unevidenced, scientifically worthless claim of US intelligence to the contrary). Most illuminating: as is typical with novel virus outbreaks, the 18-month old scientific investigation of its origins is still in its early stages and we are almost certainly years from the definitive answer (assuming we ever get one). All we’re hearing in the media about the lab release hypothesis is basically sensationalistic rubbish, most probably pushed out at us as part of the anti-China drivel now being spewed 24/7.

    • Matt
      June 4, 2021 at 22:16

      So Jonathan Cook, basically a dissident, is inculcated into your rogues gallery of neo-cold warriors because Peter Daszac and a podcast (Lol) has taught you that the lab-leak
      hypothesis is without merit. You should just confine your science news intake to CNN and NPR, Buzzfeed, and such other anti-war stalwarts—lest the contradictions (as explained by Cook) inherent in this debate bother you.

    • AElfwine Nerevar
      June 4, 2021 at 22:17

      “Fortunately there’s a go-to podcast I can put stock in”

      Well that was your first mistake. You should only “put stock in” the peer reviewed primary literature.

      “Bottom line: there is zero evidenced-based reason to suspect the virus originated in a lab and a vast array of solid, time-tested scientific evidence to think it originated in nature.”

      This is a curious statement as if you took the time to read the primary literature instead of listening to podcasts you would find that many scientists disagree with this statement. The problem is the complete lack of data. Until a intermediary species between bats and humans is identified the case for a zoonotic has not been established with any certainty. I am not saying that there won’t be one found eventually, but until there is grand sweeping statements about the “bottom line” are a bit premature.

  11. Revyn
    June 3, 2021 at 20:51

    “the driving factor was a shift among scientists who had been wary of helping Trump before the election…”

    So we are to believe that these scientists who were politically and opportunistically motivated to maintain a particular narrative are now switching to something more “honest”? And certainly are no longer politically and opportunistically motivated? THIS time they are giving the narrative that they truly believe with a clear conscience? I call bs. That’s not science, that’s ideology, and the only conclusion that can be safely assured is that ANY claims from those individuals should be treated with extreme skepticism, even if their claims align with what you believe to be more true than not.

    It reminds me of when liberals who were demonizing the intelligence agencies for the blunder with wmd suddenly embraced those same organizations in Russiagate.

  12. S.P. Korolev
    June 3, 2021 at 20:38

    Seeing as it is the Nicholas Wade article that brought this whole controversy into the mainstream from its former home on ‘ZeroHedge’ and other Sinophobic outlets where it has circulated since early 2020, it might be worth looking into this guy’s background. Although usually billed as a ‘former NYT science writer’, before he became famous for saving the world from Chinese Dr Frankensteins, Wade was best known for his 2014 book ‘A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History’, a racist screed that makes ‘The Bell Curve’ look like disinterested scholarship. The NYT Book Review published an open letter from more than 140 scientists from the fields of evolutionary biology and population genetics that took issue with Wade’s politicization of their research:

    “..Wade juxtaposes an incomplete and inaccurate account of our research on human genetic differences with speculation that recent natural selection has led to worldwide differences in I.Q. test results, political institutions and economic development. We reject Wade’s implication that our findings substantiate his guesswork. They do not.

    We are in full agreement that there is no support from the field of population genetics for Wade’s conjectures.”

    • Matt
      June 4, 2021 at 22:29

      Wade’s position on genetic inheritance is completely non germane to his research on the relative merits of the gain-of-function thesis. Also, while Wade may have convinced Cook that the gain-of-function explanation is to be taken serious many other respected virologists have questioned the “wet market” theory. Not to be overly suspicious but it always struck me as odd that the “wet market” theory of the genesis of a viral pandemic appeared months before COVIDs appearance—in a Bill Gate’s created docu-series.

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