Labelling the Lab Leak Theory ‘Misinformation’ is a Stain on British Science

I’ve written a comment piece for Mail+ today about the shameful attempt by eminent British scientists to suppress the lab leak theory, pegged to the editorial in the BMJ calling for a “full, open, and independent investigation” into the origins of the virus. Here is an extract:

We still don’t know for sure where the virus came from, but the theory that it escaped from a lab in Wuhan has always been quite plausible – which is why it’s peculiar that so many British scientists initially dismissed it as ‘misinformation’.

For one thing, the closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2 occurs naturally in a region of Southern China almost 1,000 miles away from the research centre. Yet the first viral outbreak was recorded in Wuhan. How did it get there if it wasn’t via a lab leak?

We know that scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology have been researching coronaviruses in bats for more than a decade, catching them in the wild and bringing them back to the lab to carry out ‘gain of function’ research.

This involves altering microbes that cause diseases to make them more transmissible in the hope of developing vaccines and treatments.

What’s more likely? That SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the lab or that Covid-19 began when a human ate an infected animal bought from the Wuhan wet market – the so-called ‘zoonotic spill over’ theory?

We know that safety standards at the Institute are quite lax. For instance, Wuhan scientists conducted some experiments on a coronavirus capable of infecting human cells in 2016 in a lab with biosafety levels comparable to that of a dentist’s office, i.e. they wore protective face shields, but that was about it.

Moreover, this wouldn’t be the first time a dangerous pathogen has escaped from the lab. Smallpox leaked from a research lab at Birmingham Medical School in 1978, SARS has escaped six times – once from a lab in in Singapore, once in Taiwan and four times in Beijing – and in 2007 an outbreak of foot and mouth disease was traced to a leaky drainage pipe at a British government lab in Surrey.

Yet in spite of this circumstantial evidence, some experts were quick to write off the lab leak hypothesis when it was first aired.

Worth reading in full.

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