Scientists reported to have believed Covid leaked from Wuhan lab but dared not say so

Scientists reported to have believed Covid leaked from Wuhan lab. (Photo courtesy: TBGF)

(, Jan12’22) – Scientists have been criticized for their lack of openness in expressing their views about the China-origin of the Coronavirus pandemic for fear of harming science in China as well as for political reason, according to a report Jan 12.

Scientists have been seen to be all too quick to dismiss China as the source, whether by design or accident, of the virus that is responsible for the current more than two-year-old, still raging global pandemic. This was despite the fact that leading British and US scientists thought it was likely that Covid accidentally leaked from a laboratory because of their concern that further debate would harm science in China, the report said, citing email exchanges among them.

An email from Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, on Feb 2, 2020 was stated to say that “a likely explanation” was that Covid had rapidly evolved from a Sars-like virus inside human tissue in a low-security lab.

Addressed to Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Francis Collins of the US National Institutes of Health, the email went on to say that such evolution may have “accidentally created a virus primed for rapid transmission between humans,” the report said.

However, the report noted, a leading scientist had told Sir Jeremy that “further debate would do unnecessary harm to science in general and science in China in particular”. What is more, Dr Collins, the former director of the US National Institutes of Health, had warned that it could damage “international harmony”.

The report cited Viscount Ridley, co-author of Viral: the search for the origin of Covid, as saying: “These emails show a lamentable lack of openness and transparency among Western scientists who appear to have been more interested in shutting down a hypothesis they thought was very plausible, for political reasons.”

The emails were also stated to show Sir Jeremy saying that other scientists also believed the virus could not have evolved naturally. One such scientist was stated to be Professor Mike Farzan, of Scripps Research, the expert who discovered how the original Sars virus binds to human cells.

Scientists were stated to be particularly concerned by a part of Covid-19 called the furin cleavage site, a section of the spike protein which helps it enter cells and makes it so infectious to humans. And Professor Farzan was said to have summarized his concerns in an email, saying: “He is bothered by the furin site and has a hard time (to) explain that as an event outside the lab, though there are possible ways in nature but highly unlikely.

“I think this becomes a question of how do you put all this together, whether you believe in this series of coincidences, what you know of the lab in Wuhan, how much could be in nature – accidental release or natural event? I am 70:30 or 60:40.”

Later emails were stated to show that by Feb 4, Sir Jeremy had revised his estimate of a laboratory leak to 50:50, while Professor Eddie Holmes, of the University of Sydney, had given a 60:40 estimate in favour of an accidental release.

Bob Garry, of the University of Texas, was reported to be unconvinced that Covid-19 emerged naturally.

“I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature,” he was quoted as saying.

Professor Andrew Rambaut, from the University of Edinburgh, also said that furin cleavage site “strikes me as unusual”, adding, “I think the only people with sufficient information or access to samples to address it would be the teams working in Wuhan.”


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