Lab Leak Theory

U.S. Intelligence Claims That Covid May Have Escaped from Chinese Lab

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According to a recent declassified report, U.S. intelligence have remarked that the lab leak theory, which claims that the global spread of Covid began when the virus escaped from a Chinese laboratory by accident, is a plausible explanation, but has stated that the disease was never intended to be a biological weapon. The Telegraph has the story.

The report, which China branded a “farce”, said agencies may never be able to identify the source of the global pandemic but dismissed accusations that Covid was developed as a bioweapon.

Those pushing that theory have been accused of disinformation and had “no direct access” to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, it said.

One intelligence agency said it had “moderate confidence” that the first infection was probably because of a laboratory accident involving experiments and animals at the Wuhan Institute.

The report updates a review ordered by President Joe Biden amid political infighting over how much to blame China rather than governments that may not have moved quickly enough to protect citizens.

Former Republican President Donald Trump – who lost his bid for re-election as the deadly pandemic ravaged the US economy – and many of his supporters referred to Covid as the “China virus.”

The Chinese embassy in Washington said, “The U.S. moves of relying on its intelligence apparatus instead of scientists to trace the origins of Covid is a complete political farce.

“We have been supporting science-based efforts on origins tracing, and will continue to stay actively engaged. That said, we firmly oppose attempts to politicise this issue.”

Worth reading in full.

Third of Team Appointed by WHO to Investigate Origins of Covid Have Conflicts of Interest

The World Health Organisation is embroiled in a new scandal: at least a third of its team investigating the origins of COVID-19, appointed last week, have conflicts of interest due to research links or previous statements about the disease. Ian Birrell in the Mail on Sunday has more.

The team of 26 scientists, selected from 700 applicants, were named last week after the UN body had its initial efforts frustrated by China and was then widely criticised after they declared it “extremely unlikely” that the pandemic began with a laboratory leak.

Michael Ryan, a senior WHO official, said the new Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (Sago) had possibly the last chance to discover the origins of Covid-19 “in a collegiate, collective and mutually responsible way”.

Yet there is growing dismay over the inclusion of seven members of the discredited previous group, whose findings echoed the Beijing regime’s line – alongside others who have dismissed fears of a lab incident as conspiracy theory.

Tory MP Bob Seely, of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “Why does the new team include people who are compromised? Two whitewashes are not better than one. The world is owed a robust independent inquiry.”

The seven members of the previous study group include British professor John Watson and Dutch scientist Marion Koopmans.

Koopmans runs a viroscience department collaborating with EcoHealth Alliance, the US organisation headed by British scientist Peter Daszak, which funded high-risk bat-virus experiments in Wuhan.

She has published 27 papers with her colleague Ron Fouchier, one of the world’s most controversial researchers into ‘gain of function’ experiments, which aim to make animal viruses more transmissible and able to infect humans.

New members of the WHO team include German virologist Christian Drosten, who signed an influential Lancet statement last year that attacked “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin” and praised Beijing’s “rapid, open and transparent sharing of data”.

One of the two biosafety specialists is Kathrin Summermatter, a Swiss scientist who has praised the security of Chinese labs and said the idea of a research incident is “a classic conspiracy theory”.

Filippa Lentzos, a biosecurity expert at King’s College London, has insisted that it is vital to keep all theories open, and said: “There appear to be many in the group who do not have an open mind – an essential quality in any scientific investigative team.”

You can read the story in the Mail on Sunday here.

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.