The false basis for dismissing the lab-leak theory

I don’t know if the original source of this ploy is Dr Fauci himself but I’ve certainly seen this line as one of the primary ‘arguments’ against lab leak. It goes like this – previous pandemics, such as Sars-Cov-1, have come from nature and zoonotic spill over so it is likely that this one does too. This is a video of Dr Fauci explaining this in May 2021:

As Senator Marco Rubio points out in the video the intermediary animal for Sars-Cov-1 was found in 4 months. (I’ve seen the 4 months figure for Sars-Cov-1 quoted by some researchers e.g. here. I’ve also calculated a longer timeline of 11 months – see my post here and note 1, still less than the current 22 months and counting for Sars-Cov-2). As the Senator says despite China’s huge interest in finding the intermediary animal now – about 22 months after the start of the pandemic it has not yet been found.

The idea that previous pandemics have come from natural spill over so this one must too really seems to be one of the main ‘arguments’ for the natural emergence theory. But it is not scientific. 1) It simply ignores the coincidence of the epicentre of the pandemic being within a few Km of a lab conducting risky experiments with precisely this type of virus 2) if natural emergence happens then so do lab leaks; if a lab leak has not yet led to a pandemic that isn’t proof that it won’t. This line breaks the basic rules of probability. If you toss a coin ten times and you get heads 10 times what are the odds you will get tails on the eleventh toss? Still 50-50. The fact that previous pandemics have emerged from natural spill over does not mean that this is what happened in this case. Nor does the fact that previous lab leaks have not led to pandemics mean that this is not what happened in this case. – Further; this view does not take account of the specifics of what was happening in Wuhan; sustained handling of bats, playing with viruses which had already infected humans, (the one from the mine), and mutating viruses in the lab specifically to see how infectious they could be to humans. Ironically – one of the other arguments which is deployed against the lab-leak theory goes like this: “ok; the genetic structure of Sars-Cov-2 is a little unusual for nature but hey we are talking about natural selection and there is a first for everything.” (See this argument reported by Wade here: in the section ‘Comparing the rival scenarios of SARS2 origin’). On the one hand the argument is “unusual events tend not to occur” and then on the other hand “unusual events even very rare ones can and do occur”.

Fauci has two threats. 1) A serious Congress or Senate (I don’t know exactly which it would be) investigation taking all the evidence including subpoenaing key players from Eco Health Alliance concluding that the lab leak was almost certain and 2) some unexpected leak from China confirming the lab leak. The latter is unlikely. One imagines that if it was a lab leak all the forensic evidence has long since been cleaned up and a defector would only have their word and could be dismissed as unreliable. It is interesting that the Democratic party is blocking all enquiries. (Who wouldn’t want to find the origins of a world-wide pandemic?) But that might not last for ever.

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer