Lab leak

This website has consistently argued that the idea that Sars-Cov-2 leaked from the lab in Wuhan is a serious theory. This web site has queried why a reasonable theory has been dismissed by the mainstream media as “a conspiracy theory”. This “conspiracy theory” line is strange. A “conspiracy theory” is something which has no evidence to support it and is inherently unlikely – such as the Pentagon organised 9/11. But there is nothing inherently unlikely about the lab leak theory for the origin of the Sars-Cov-2 virus. The Chinese Communist Party is a secretive and untrustworthy organisation so official denials carry no weight. There is a lab in Wuhan where gain of function experiments have previously been carried out on Coronaviruses. The lab is just a few kilometres from where the outbreak is said to have started – in a food market; an amazing coincidence considering the natural location for these viruses is in bat populations some hundreds of kilometres further south. The evidence to support the alternative theory – transmission via an intermediary animal and then an infection source at the food market has looked less likely over time because no evidence has emerged to support it. China has not provided the WHO team (which they stalled for months and then loaded with favourable scientists) with all the data such an investigation normally gets. [1] Journalists investigating the outbreak in China have been blocked by state security. [2]

All the above makes it very strange that until the last few days the mainstream liberal media has consistently called the lab theory a “conspiracy theory”. The only credible basis on which to discount the lab leak theory is that the majority of virologists who have studied the genetic composition of the Sars-Cov-2 virus have said that it looks natural and not man-made. But even so there have, for some time, been several exceptions – perfectly credible mainstream scientists who have said “it could have been engineered”. Some of these are mentioned in the DM article linked below. [3]

The DM article [3] anticipates a paper by two scientists who have studied the virus and who claim that based on its structure it is unlikely to have occurred naturally. These scientists previously published a paper in which they discussed the virus and asserted that it looked man-made. In that paper the question of the origins of the virus was not the main theme of the paper and at the time they promised to produce a paper which would focus on this question. The new paper is, according to the DM, due to be published in The Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery shortly.

It is extremely interesting to observe how the liberal press has flip-flopped on this. Until recently the lab leak theory was dismissed as a “conspiracy theory”. (E.g. this piece in the Guardian by a scientist who is financially linked to the Wuhan lab by being a member of something called the Eco Alliance which funded work at the Wuhan lab – described as ‘partnering’ in the article. Or this piece aiming to discredit an Australian journalist who has been researching and arguing for the lab leak theory). In the last few days with no new information the media narrative has flipped. Suddenly it is ok to consider the lab leak theory. All this is a nice illustration of how what passes for news and objective reporting in the liberal press is really just ideologically-driven narratives. When Trump was promoting the lab leak theory it was ‘fake news’. It appears to have become respectable because it is now being investigated and considered seriously by the Democrat Biden.

This web site has previously questioned why the liberal press is has been so keen to supress the perfectly credible lab leak theory. Apart from a kind of reflex desire to oppose anything which Trump backed there are probably other drivers. One is probably an affinity amongst Western liberals for China. They might not like to admit it but they are probably attracted to the Chinese model of efficiency and political repression. As to why there has been a ‘consensus’ amongst scientists in the West to dismiss the lab leak theory the authors of the new paper reported in the DM [3] have a suggestion; in defending their Chinese colleagues these people are defending their own discipline (no doubt with many lucrative business links). They are worried that if the lab leak is established their own research projects into viruses may come under scrutiny. – And, perhaps, it is in part just an instinctive reaction to back colleagues no matter what.

At any event it looks like the new paper by Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr. Birger Sørensen will make interesting reading.

Notes

  1. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-who-china-idUSKBN2AD090
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-55404485
  3. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9629563/Chinese-scientists-created-COVID-19-lab-tried-cover-tracks-new-study-claims.html

Why is the liberal media suppressing the Chinese lab theory for the origin of Sars-Cov-2?

A likely candidate for the origin for Sars-Cov-2 is the Level 4 Bio secure lab in Wuhan where scientists were conducting research into Coronaviruses from bats from several hundred Km away and where a previous research project had involved a gain-of-function experiment – (manipulating a virus to make it more infectious to humans for valid but controversial research purposes).

A second theory is that it could have jumped from bats to humans almost certainly via an intermediary animal. (Bats are so far genetically removed from humans that an intermediary animal is much more likely than direct transfer). Wuhan animal market has been canvassed as a likely source though there is some evidence which seems to suggest that it was not the epicentre of the epidemic. The supposed intermediary animal has yet to be identified credibly though there was an organised effort in China to point to pangolins (but this is not accepted as established).

Attentive and scientifically literate readers will note that I am discussing theories. No one knows – these are just theories and one can weigh them up, consider which way the evidence tends and come to a provisional conclusion. The fact is that right now there isn’t much concrete and definitive evidence for either the lab theory or the transfer from bats via an intermediary animal to humans theory other than from genetic analysis. The majority of virologists seem to believe that Sars-Cov-2 does not show signs of having been engineered in a lab. But not all. [2] I am struck by the coincidence of the outbreak occurring just a few Km from a lab where controversial research had been previously conducted into just this type of virus, which occurs naturally some hundreds of Km away, and by the existence of well-documented efforts by the Chinese authorities to prevent a free investigation into the origins either by journalists (a BBC team was interfered with) or by scientists (some scientists on the WHO mission have said that they were not provided with full data).

Other significant voices have argued for the likelihood of the lab origin. This is David Asher a US official who investigated the matter for the State Department. He says that there was an early cluster – workers from the Biolab. He raises the possibility that the virus was part of a military research programme. Sky News also reports (not David Asher) that a key database from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was taken offline in 9/2019. The Institute claims that this was due to hacking attempts. Alternatively it reflects an early crisis at the lab. The US State Departments belief that there was an early outbreak amongst lab staff is also reported by the Daily Telegraph. The full State Department document is here.

I’m interested in how the liberal press is working so (so) hard to squash the lab theory and I wonder why this is. This, is an example of this in the Guardian:

The origin of the pandemic has become a political football with some, including Dr Robert Redfield, a former director of the CDC, suggesting without evidence the virus escaped a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

The phrase here “suggesting without evidence” is the one they have settled on to try to discredit this theory. It is widely used and deployed against anyone who suggests the lab as the origin for Sars-Cov-2. Let’s look at what Dr Robert Redfield actually said. (After all, he is a former director of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and a former University professor of virology, so not some kind of fringe loon). He said: “I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely aetiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped. The other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out” [1]

He didn’t “suggest without evidence”. He simply expressed his view that of the competing theories for the aetiology of Sars-Cov-2 the lab theory is the most likely. Scientists deal with theories and Dr Redfield is simply saying that this is the theory he favours – explicitly acknowledging that he could turn out to be wrong. I.e. he demonstrates that he understands how science works.

It is possible that the Guardian simply doesn’t understand how science works. (How theories can be be developed. How a scientist can favour one theory while still being open to an alternative theory being proved when all the evidence is in). But the systematic insistence with which they try to misrepresent all such theorizing tells me that it isn’t just intellectual clumsiness but that someone at a political-editorial level has decided that the line must be to suppress the lab theory. I’m interested in why. (And who is behind it).

One highly unlikely theory for the origin of Sars-Cov-2 is something to do with it being imported into China in chilled food. This theory has even found its way into the current WHO report – advocated for by Chinese members of the ‘investigation’ team. Its function is to spread out and dilute the lab theory. The Guardian plays the role asked of it by China:

While concluding that the two least likely hypotheses for the emergence of the deadly virus – a leak from a lab (pushed by senior Trump officials) and being introduced via frozen food from outside (promoted by China) 

Chinese officials will be delighted with the Guardian’s reporting. They have equated the highly credible lab theory with this highly dubious claim about chilled food and thus managed to discredit the lab theory.

In the same report the Guardian also claims that Mike Pompeo – who has raised the possibility of the lab origin – has done so “without evidence”. But this is not true – unless ‘evidence’ means a signed confession and a vial of the engineered virus. The State Department in the dying days of the Trump Presidency published a detailed paper (also linked to above) in which they raise the possibility of the lab being the origin. (The paper remains on the State Department web site under the new President). It is worth noting that no direct accusation is made; simply the two leading theories (lab origin and animal origin) are discussed. “The virus could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, spreading in a pattern consistent with a natural epidemic. Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection.” The document reviews the evidence of cover-up and other factors such as the early cluster of sick lab workers. Together these factors do indeed give rise to serious questions. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence here.

One possible reason why the liberal press is working in overdrive to squash the lab theory may be that it is associated with Trump. [2] Though for me that explanation doesn’t seem to quite explain everything.

Notes

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/26/science/redfield-coronavirus-wuhan-lab.html
  2. https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/18/1021030/coronavirus-leak-wuhan-lab-scientists-conspiracy/

Where did Sars-Cov-2 come from?

There is an almost inexplicable silence from world leaders on this question.

It is beyond doubt that China covered up the serious of the situation when the plague first started in Wuhan. Even the FT notes this.

But did it come from the lab or by jumping across species in the Wuhan wet market? Scientists all over the world have lined up to argue for the latter. Nonetheless a few scientists are prepared to openly discuss the possibility of origin in the Wuhan level-4 bio-lab and not dismiss it as a conspiracy theory. [1]

That this is a sensitive topic is evident from this BBC piece. [2] They are at pains to call the lab theory “unsubstantiated” but their own research shows Chinese secret services at pains to stop them investigating. Why? (This article also makes it clear that the current WHO inquiry is rigged to avoid the lab option from the start).

The lab in Wuhan is known to have done gain-of-function experiments in the past. There is a real possibility that Sars-Cov-2 is the result of a gain-of-function experiment which accidentally escaped. The likelihood of the epidemic starting in just the one city in China with a level 4 bio lab where research was being conducted into bat-origin coronaviruses and having nothing at all to do with the lab is improbable. That there is no evidence for the lab theory doesn’t make it a “conspiracy theory”. (There is no evidence per se for life on Jupiter’s moon Europa; but no one says this is a conspiracy theory).

Why this silence from world leaders? Some answers may be provided in this WSJ article. The liberal elites see the idea as being associated with Trump and protectionism and they won’t touch it for that reason. The world is dependent on China and no one wants to offend the economic giant. Still, objectively speaking, the lab theory is a very strong candidate.

Update 6-1-21

China is blocking the already watered down WHO mission. [3] Why could this be? And why does this news – that the country of origin of this deadly pandemic is not cooperating with the WHO in attempting to understand the causes get no public comment from the political leadership of the UK or EU? That really is strange.

Update 15-1-21

This article in the Telegraph characterises the consensus narrative which the Western liberal press is trying to establish. The idea that Sars-Cov-2 may have originated in the level 4 lab in Wuhan is a “conspiracy theory” which has “been roundly dismissed by the global scientific community”. But it hasn’t. True; the consensus is it is not an artificially modified virus. But there are dissenting voices from within the scientific world. “Sky News has spoken to four other scientists who believe that the lab theory should not be ruled out, though they did not say it was more likely than a natural explanation” [1] Some of these dissenting voices suggest that it was indeed the result of a gain-of-function experiment and it accidentally escaped. I particularly like this quote from Professor Richard Ebright of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, (who is not one of the four scientists mentioned above):

Persons who use term ‘conspiracy theory’ to describe possibility of accidental release reveal themselves to be unable to read, unable to reason, or uninterested in truth

Which is indeed true – and which, as this post points out, is how the vast majority of the Western media is behaving, which is why it is so strange. It is like there is some kind of collective fear. There is a monster in the room but everyone agrees not to mention it.

Notes

  1. https://news.sky.com/story/former-head-of-mi6-says-theory-coronavirus-was-made-in-wuhan-lab-must-not-be-dismissed-as-conspiracy-12021693
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-55364445
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2021/jan/05/coronavirus-live-news-england-to-enter-third-lockdown-as-new-york-detects-first-case-of-new-uk-strain#block-5ff4a86b8f08d7f90ab76f85

The anti-lab theory hoax in the UK’s liberal press

The Guardian and Independent are desperate to suppress the theory that SARS-Cov-2 emerged as a result of an accidental escape from a laboratory in Wuhan were coronaviruses are being studied.

It is undisputed that there are two labs in Wuhan which have been studying such viruses. One is a level 4 (the highest level) bio-security lab. This lab has been conducting significant amount of research into coronaviruses – of the same kind as SARS-Cov-2. One of its researchers is known for travelling to a location several hundred kilometers away where the horseshoe bats which are thought to be the primary animal source for the virus live. She collects samples and brings them back to her lab in Wuhan. The lab is just 8 miles from the live animal market in Wuhan which is claimed as the origin of the virus. Continue reading “The anti-lab theory hoax in the UK’s liberal press”