Journalists and scientists routinely dismissed the lab leak hypothesis as a crackpot theory and even as “racist,” up until the summer of 2021 when science journalist Nicholas Wade published an influential article, and a viral rant by Jon Stewart pushed it into the mainstream.
Until that point, social media platforms had been removing or throttling posts that took it seriously.
Anthony Fauci, who didn’t respond to our interview request, said it wasn’t worth even considering the possibility that COVID could have
originated in a lab.
More recently, emails made public through the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that Fauci, National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins, and other prominent public officials took the possibility of a lab origin far more seriously than they were letting on.
“Top virologists, sort of giants in this field, were looking at the genome and freaking out, basically” says health reporter Emily Kopp, who works at the nonprofit U.S. Right to Know, an
organisation that has obtained
thousands of pages of official documents and correspondence, some of which reveal an orchestrated effort by scientists to downplay the lab leak theory.
It’s also extensively analysed emails obtained via a lawsuit by Buzzfeed’s Jason Leopold that reveal the huge disconnect between what health officials were telling the public and what they were saying in private.
“A really central part of this entire story that maybe is not talked about enough is the fact that so many mainstream
publications have completely overlooked really key pieces of evidence in this story,” says Kopp. “We see a lot of health editors and health reporters prioritizing aticy narrative about Anthony Fauci over providing the truth to their readers.
U.S. Right to Know is devoting significant resources to its ‘COVID-19 Origins’ research with the mission of “investigating the origins of Covid-19, the risks of gain-of-function research and mishaps at biolabs where pathogens of pandemic potentials are stored and manipulated.
Kopp has assembled a comprehensive timeline that lays out substantial evidence that Fauci, Collins, and a number of influential scientists misled the public. Whether or not the lab leak theory is correct, it’s now clear that these public officials concealed their conflicts of interest with the Wuhan Institute of Virology and minimised their own roles in providing government funding for unsupervised gain-of-function research that may have led to the pandemic.
“It seems to me like the status quo is more or less continuing unabated,” says Kupp. “I don’t think that experiments are
actually slowing, and I think they might actually be accelerating.