President Biden has it ordered U.S. intelligence agencies deepened their investigation into whether the coronavirus arose naturally from animal-to-human transmission or was accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The theory of laboratory leaks had been presented by President Trump and other members of his circle in April last year. It was like that widely dismissed at that time as unfounded conspiracy theory with racist nuances. A statement In support of China, signed by prominent scientists, it had been published in The Lancet in March 2020 and had warned against unfounded speculation about the origins of the virus.
But now the suggestion that a laboratory’s filtered virus is back on the agenda, with some wonder if the media did not take the possibility seriously. Besides, Trump i his followers they have been quick to argue that they were right all the time and that they should not have been fired. How is it that a hypothesis was rejected for a long time as conspiracy theory has he returned to take into account?
Varnished by association
As part of our research, my colleagues and I have been tracking the spread of online pandemic conspiracy theories for the past 18 months. The theory that the virus was created in a laboratory was one of the first and most popular to appear. Surveys found that approximately 30% of Americans believed it at certain points. That was it despite the evidence that the virus had no obvious revealing features of genetic engineering.
But at the start of the pandemic, the media did not always distinguish between the baffling speculation that SARS-CoV-2 was created by China as a biological weapon (and then accidentally or intentionally published) and the most hypothetical plausible that it originated in nature, but accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology while studying. As a result, claims of laboratory leaks were generally considered highly questionable.
In addition, the claim of laboratory leaks became very quickly entangled with other …often contradictory—Theories: that COVID-19 was caused by 5G radiation or that Bill Gates used vaccines to implant microchips in people. In online discussions, theories are often combined in this way into megaplots. Therefore, it is understandable that commentators reject the idea.
We must also take into account the political context in which this theory was produced and circulated. Trump, a U.S. senator, promoted the general theory of laboratory leaks, along with indications that the virus could have been designed as a firearm. Tom Cotton, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson i Steve Bannon. They all had a previous shape when used conspiratorial rhetoric blame the enemies of America’s problems without i inside.
Trump, for example, had labeled global warming is a hoax perpetrated by China to gain a competitive advantage over the US. And at a press conference in April 2020, he claimed to have seen classified information indicating that the virus came from the Wuhan Institute. But when asked what the evidence was, he said, “They won’t let me say it.”
The insinuation of a vast conspiracy without evidence is a decision of Trump. It was the president who repeatedly cried wolf. And so again, it’s understandable that people were initially skeptical about leaking a lab.
New year, new tests?
So why is the theory back to the spotlight? There is not much in the way of new revelations, but there are two potentially significant developments (as detailed in long article at Vanity Fair) that have caught people’s attention. First, there are apparently intelligence reports from several Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory workers who became ill in November 2019. If true, that would be convincing proof.
Still, we must be careful here. The claim was first made in an article in the Wall Street Journal based on off-record intelligence meetings. Articles with similar briefings appearing in preparation for the Iraq war reporting on the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction, which were never found. This is not to say that there can be no intelligence about a possible lab leak. But we must be sure that we are not misinformed when we consider these sources.
Second, it came to light that Peter Daszak, a key organizer of the March 2020 statement to The Lancet, which dismissed the idea of a lab leak, had links with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Daszak is the head of the EcoHealth Alliance, a research organization that had received grants from the U.S. government to work with the institute on virus manipulation.
Some they have considered this a conspirator. Still, what it reveals is not really a secret plot to cover up a laboratory leak, but the complexity, self-interest, and political disorder surrounding the international funding of research. Daszak’s grants to work with the institute were canceled in April 2020, to be later reset later in the year. His work on The Lancet’s letter can be seen as part of the story of this collaboration between the United States and China that became political football as the pandemic initially unfolded.
This is what we repeatedly find in the world of conspiracy theories: that reality is often as murky as fiction. The research of the Assassination of Kennedy, for example, dismissed conspiracy theories, insisting the shooting was the result of an armed lone man. However, what this overlooked was the complex history of the Cold War, in which, for example, U.S. intelligence agencies (urged by the Kennedy brothers) had been involved in repeated assassination attempts on Fidel Castro.
If we insist on framing events simply in terms of conspiracy or non-conspiracy, we will fail to make sense of the more disordered ways in which history unfolds, including global pandemics. As a result, we should not be surprised that, once theories are rejected, they return to discussion.
Citation: COVID-19: Why the theory of laboratory leaks returns despite the few new tests (2021, June 22) recovered on June 22, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-covid- lab-leak-theory-evidence .html
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