Last weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that “The U.S. Energy Department has concluded that the Covid pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak, according to a classified intelligence report recently provided to the White House and key members of Congress…
“The Energy Department now joins the Federal Bureau of Investigation in saying the virus likely spread via a mishap at a Chinese laboratory. Four other agencies, along with a national intelligence panel, still judge that it was likely the result of a natural transmission, and two are undecided… The Energy Department made its judgment with ‘low confidence,’ according to people who have read the classified report.” Wall Street Journal
The right criticizes the media and others who dismissed the lab leak theory.
“For years, the media and government allied to treat anyone raising a lab theory as one of three possibilities: conspiracy theorist or racist or racist conspiracy theorist…
“[Academics] quickly joined the bandwagon to assure the public that there is no scientific basis for their theory, leaving only racism or politics as the motivation behind the theory. In early 2020, with little available evidence, two op-eds in The Lancet in February and Nature Medicine went all in on the denial front. The Lancet op-ed stated, ‘We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin.’…
“When Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) merely mentioned the possibility in 2020, he was set upon by the usual flash media mob. The Washington Post ridiculed him for repeating a ‘debunked’ coronavirus ‘conspiracy theory.’… By suppressing alternative scientific and policy views, the public was denied a full debate over mask efficacy, vaccine side effects, COVID origins and other important issues. Many of those questions are only now being recognized as legitimate and worthy of debate.”
Jonathan Turley, New York Post
“The lab-leak hypothesis was never wholly unsupported by evidence. But as former New York Times science reporter Donald McNeil Jr. wrote on Medium in early 2021, in discussing the judgment calls his paper and other heavyweight outlets had made when putting their thumbs on the scales against the lab-leak theory, the mainstream consensus ensured that the theory was relegated to the fringes, where it would only be ‘championed by the folks who brought us Pizzagate, the Plandemic, Kung Flu, Q-Anon, Stop the Steal, and the January 6 Capitol invasion.’…
“Thus, the presumed derangement of the lab-leak theory’s proponents became a self-reinforcing proposition. After all, only the crazies would touch it. You could be forgiven for concluding that was an intended consequence of all this gatekeeping…
“You don’t often see genuine scholars indulge the hyperventilating apoplexy to which those who tried to throttle the nascent lab-leak theory in its crib so often appealed. But you do frequently see those who prosecute the culture wars indulge it — and the prosecution of the culture wars is all this enterprise ever was.”
Noah Rothman, National Review
“China has covered up whatever evidence it has about the virus’s origin, and it refuses to let the World Health Organization conduct a more thorough probe than it did in 2021. News reports say the WHO recently abandoned the second phase of its investigation. China’s behavior is prima facie evidence that it fears what an independent inquiry might find.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal
The left argues that the lab leak theory has yet to be proven.
The left argues that the lab leak theory has yet to be proven.
“The change in opinion by the Energy Department’s intelligence office is far from a total backing of the ‘lab leak’ theory. For starters, the conclusion was reached only with ‘low confidence,’ as opposed to medium or high confidence… A low confidence assessment generally means that the information obtained is not reliable enough or is too fragmented to make a more definitive analytic judgment or that there is not enough information available to draw a more robust conclusion.”
Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
“If there were now evidence to firmly support [the lab leak theory], presumably the DOE would have higher confidence in their assessment—and, other agencies would be joining them in their conclusion. The Journal article explains that the other agencies had the same information and did not switch their positions…
“Different conclusions aside, the agencies actually agreed on a lot. Lab leak or not, they agreed with full confidence that COVID was not a biological weapon and were confident that China did not see the pandemic coming. Most agencies also agreed that COVID wasn’t genetically engineered, leaving less nefarious lab-leak options like mis-handling animals or viruses… It took decades to pinpoint where diseases like Ebola and HIV originated… This is complicated, painstaking work, and we’re not likely to have a firm answer soon.”
Meg Duff, Slate
“The main reason getting to the truth has been so difficult is that the Chinese government has actively obstructed international investigations… This behavior is reprehensible, but because it’s unlikely to change, I believe we need to shift our primary question from ‘what caused the coronavirus?’ to ‘if either hypothesis can be true, then what?’…
“In 1978, a 40-year-old medical school employee in Britain died of smallpox that’s thought to have originated from a laboratory there. Numerous other accidents involving viruses from dengue to anthrax to SARS have been reported, including in the United States. Regardless of whether this coronavirus resulted from a research mishap, there’s clearly a need for additional biosafety regulations and oversight…
“It’s estimated that 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals. The Marburg virus, now causing an outbreak in Equatorial Guinea, is believed to be spread by fruit bats to monkeys and humans. Mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, has been transmitted to humans from nonhuman primates and pet prairie dogs… Regardless of whether the coronavirus also jumped over from an animal host, much more needs to be done to address the root causes of interspecies pathogen transfer.”
Leana S. Wen, Washington Post
A libertarian's take
“[Apoorva Mandavilli, The New York Times' lead coronavirus reporter] lamented in May 2021 that people would talk about a theory with ‘racist roots.’ What was racist about the lab leak theory was never well-explained. In fact, one could plausibly argue that the alternative explanation—that it came from a Chinese wet market—has far more racially problematic implications. After all, if wet markets are responsible for the pandemic, then the culprit is a culturally specific Chinese food custom…
“The lab leak theory, on the other hand, indicts an organization, the Chinese government, rather than a populace. And unlike the wet market theory, a possible lab origin also calls for scrutiny of U.S. agencies, which have funded coronavirus research on bats in Wuhan, China. The truth is the truth, and investigators should pursue the origins of COVID-19 no matter where they lead. But if the goal is minimizing anti-Asian animus, there's actually good reason to prefer the lab leak explanation.”
Robby Soave, Reason
Sheep opens gate with bolt to escape Whitehouse Farm Centre.
The Scottish Farmer