One year ago, everyday citizens were drenched in coverage of coronavirus, and most wanted to know more than just that the world might be ending, that their freedoms were up for debate, and that their lives had already been altered for two months and counting. They had questions. Chief among them was how. How did the novel virus that had changed life forever originate? Who is responsible? What are the facts?
Our most influential voices were not interested in asking those questions though. Instead, they told us the virus originated from a seafood market in China that sold pangolins. Nothing to see here, that’s the reason. And when people questioned that story, they were attacked, kicked offline and called dangerous conspirators. Twitter suspended Dr. Li-Meng Yan for daring to say that she had scientific evidence that suggests that the virus originated from a Chinese lab.
Now, months later, there’s growing evidence that those in power lied to us. The latest comes via a report published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday that revealed three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in November 2019 with symptoms mirroring COVID-19, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report.
The details of the reporting go beyond a State Department fact sheet, issued during the final days of the Trump administration, which said that several researchers at the lab, a center for the study of coronaviruses and other pathogens, became sick in autumn 2019 “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”
The date, November 2019, is eye-opening. Epidemiologists and virologists believe SARS-CoV-2 first originated in Wuhan, and Beijing says the first confirmed case came on Dec. 8, 2019.
The lab leak theory that so many called a conspiracy theory now appears far more plausible.
David Asher, a former U.S. official who led a State Department task force on the origins of the virus for is inclined to believe that, given the symptoms, it’s hard to conclude the three researches didn’t suffer from early cases of COVID-19.
“I’m very doubtful that three people in highly protected circumstances in a level three laboratory working on coronaviruses would all get sick with influenza that put them in the hospital or in severe conditions all in the same week, and it didn’t have anything to do with the coronavirus,” the WSJ quoted him saying.
Much of the conversation may shift now to “what if this was taken seriously earlier…” I don’t know the answer to that, and neither does anyone else. But it should signal a full-on investigation, a popular idea these days with the new 9/11-style commission tasked with blaming Jan. 6 on someone.
“While the lab hypothesis is being taken more seriously, including by Biden administration officials, the debate is still colored by political tensions, including over how much evidence is needed to sustain the hypothesis,” the WSJ adds.
All in all, the people who decide what is credible and what is conspiratorial are hacks. Ask yourself this: how much of what we’ve been told to believe and accept about COVID has been true?