Thomas Gallatin / March 23, 2022

Science Journalists Mum on COVID’s Origin

Why the science media is avoiding the truth about where the coronavirus originated.

Where did it come from? With the global COVID pandemic now slowly fading in the public’s rearview mirror, the aforementioned question has not been answered, actually avoided, and it appears that science journalists are not the least bit interested in answering it either. But that raises a second question: Why the apparent lack of interest?

Two possibilities for COVID’s origin in Wuhan, China, were established early on. The first was immediately posed at the outset of the novel coronavirus — that it sprung from nature and was likely tied to a Wuhan wet market. The second was the possibility that it leaked from a Wuhan lab that just happened to be involved in researching bat coronaviruses.

The first theory was soon declared orthodoxy by scientific talkingheads in American media, while the theory of a lab leak was derided by these same people as the stuff of nutty conspiracy theories.

It was clear that the elevation of the wet market theory combined with the denigration of the lab leak theory was primarily politically motivated rather than scientifically derived. The fact that COVID originated in communist China, a country whose massive economic weight and influential financial strings give it the power to silence many critics, was the obvious cause for the sudden blundering of science leaders who were loathe to lose China’s research funding.

By the end of last year, the lab leak theory finally gained at least tacit admission from the scientific talkingheads that it was not, in fact, a wild and unscientific conspiracy, but rather a plausible explanation for COVID’s origin. Indeed, in the eyes of many, the lab leak hypothesis checked significantly more of the circumstantial evidence boxes than did the wet market theory. Hence, the lab leak theory has for many in the U.S. and across the West become the most likely explanation.

Of course, if China was interested in uncovering the actual origin of COVID, Beijing’s leadership wouldn’t be withholding vital information while demanding that any scientists in the country clear their research findings with government censors.

It’s thus interesting that COVID’s origin narrative has once again flipped back toward a natural origin linked to Wuhan’s food markets. The World Health Organization’s Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens is set to release its latest report that will once again point to the Wuhan markets as the primary spreading point for COVID. But this still doesn’t negate the lab leak theory, nor does it really explain the actual origin point of the virus.

But don’t tell the Leftmedia that. As NPR reports, “Scientists who weren’t involved in the research papers are calling the new data ‘very convincing’ and a ‘blow’ to the lab-leak theory.” Add to this that the timeframe the WHO targets for the virus outbreak is too late. As Alina Chan of the Broad Institute contends, “These authors are trying to close the case using only mid-to-late December cases and this is unlikely to lead to any scientifically robust conclusion of how or when the outbreak began.”

In other words, the WHO is looking in the wrong place and focusing on the wrong time. It’s almost as if WHO officials are avoiding finding the real answer. Why would they not want to find the answer? As City Journal’s Nicolas Wade observes, “If the Covid virus should be found to have indeed escaped from a lab in Wuhan, a tidal wave of public rage may shake the temple of science to its foundations.”

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