Lab leak cover-up push-back

Those who argue in favour of the lab leak origin for Sars-Cov-2 often cite in support of this theory the evidence of a cover-up by the Chinese authorities. If it didn’t leak from the lab why would there be any need for a cover-up?

But, unfortunately, there is quite a lot of evidence of a cover-up. The obvious attempts to control and steer the WHO mission away from investigating the lab leak theory is itself suspicious. The refusal by the Chinese authorities to share raw early patient data with the WHO team. [1] The attempt to put forward pangolins as the supposed intermediary animal – an attempt which foundered fairly quickly. And the well-known case of the deletion from a public database of genetic sequence information from early cases. [2]

It is clear that there is a lot of push-back against the lab-leak theory. On the question of the deleted data the New York Times has published an “explanation”. [3] Interestingly this story is being actively promoted by the US NIH (National Institute for Health) [4] – a government agency and one of the suspects in the case. (The NIH part funded the work at the Wuhan lab!) [5]

The explanation in the New York Times is far-fetched, so unlikely sounding in fact that they have to preface it with this:

“But now an odd explanation has emerged, stemming from an editorial oversight by a scientific journal”.

The explanation is indeed “odd”. The explanation for the deleted genetic information about Sars-Cov-2 is as follows. Reseachers at Wuhan State University sequenced part of the genetic code of the virus; they wrote an article about their work which was published in a journal called “Small” in June 2020 and they uploaded the sequencing information to the public database (run by NIH) – this latter in March 2020. Now comes the “odd” bit. They subsquently realised that the journal which published their work had forgotten to put a link to the genetic database in the article – and so they thought there was no point the data being in the database and they removed it!

The reason this is an “odd” explanation is obvious. If you have done some novel scientific research on a major issue of the day and had your work published in a scientific journal and you noticed that the journal has forgotten to put a link to the database where the actual data which the article was about was stored what would you do? A) Send an email to the editor of the journal asking him to correct the mistake – after all obviously you have his or her contact details as you’ve been in discussion with her about publication or B) delete all the data from the public database and thus invalidate the published article?

Is is indeed an “odd” explanation. It has to be said that the editor of the journal is reported by the New York Times as supporting this account of a missing link. But this still doesn’t explain the unusual behaviour by the researchers.

The New York Times story also mentions that the explanation given to the NIH by the Chinese researchers in June 2020 when they requested removal of the data did not include this story about a missing link in an article. (The original FT story about the data deletion request [2] just cites an NIH official as saying that people have the right to remove their data). Apparently, according to the NYT, the scientists said that the sequences were being withdrawn to be updated and then uploaded to a different database. (This eventually happened in July 2021 to a Chinese run database “China National Center for Bioinformation” according to the NYT – more than a year later). In general when people provide two separate excuses it is a sign that they are not being truthful. At least that is my experience.

It looks to me like this is possibly a carefully curated story to explain away one of the suspicious factors which paint a picture of cover-up by the Chinese authorities.

Notes

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-56054468
  2. https://www.ft.com/content/b53661d6-a70a-44ca-92a7-fa2fa4944d52
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/science/coronavirus-sequences-lab-leak.html Unfortunately this article is behind a money-sucking “paywall” but I was able to read the article here: https://web.archive.org/web/20210801003522/https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/science/coronavirus-sequences-lab-leak.html
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/search/research-news/14197/?utm_source=gquery&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=gquery-home
  5. https://thebulletin.org/2021/05/the-origin-of-covid-did-people-or-nature-open-pandoras-box-at-wuhan/

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer