Feb. 19, 2020 was the day science died. At the start of a global pandemic that would kill millions, in the world’s most prestigious medical journal, 27 eminent public health scientists signed a letter labeling as “conspiracy theories” any suggestion that the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic might have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China.
“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” the experts, from nine countries wrote.
Scientists who have studied the new virus “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife,” they said.
“Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumors, and prejudice that jeopardize our global collaboration in the fight against this virus.”
Got that? It’s a naturally occurring virus and don’t you dare say otherwise, they asserted, which was not very scientific at all.
Rigorous skepticism is a prerequisite for good science, just as it is for good journalism.
Surely these scientists knew they were engaging in politics and not science. Weren’t they even slightly suspicious when the person organizing the Lancet letter was none other than the deeply conflicted Dr. Peter Daszak, head of green nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance.
Daszak had been collaborating for 15 years with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which we know was conducting dangerous Frankenstein research, known as “gain of function,” on bat coronaviruses, which makes them more lethal and more infective to humans.
He co-authored papers with Shi Zhengli, the head of the Wuhan research team, and he funneled part of the $100 million in US government funding he received to her lab.
Yet despite his compelling vested interest to absolve the lab of involvement in the pandemic, Daszak drafted the Lancet letter and convinced 26 others to sign it, e-mails released under Freedom of Information Law revealed last year.
These prominent scientists collaborated to issue a political statement at the most important scientific moment of their lifetime, and they will forever stand condemned.
One of the lab-leak deniers who signed the letter has now at least recanted. Dr. Peter Palese, a virologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, last week reportedly called for a “thorough investigation about the origin of the Covid-19 virus.”
That is to his credit. But the damage caused by the letter he signed can’t be overestimated.
It effectively silenced scientists who had kept an open mind. It dismissed as kooks those virologists who took one look at the new virus and saw telltale signs that it may have been tinkered with in the lab.
In fact, the lab-leak theory always was strongly backed by the science, as any honest virologist would tell you. One of the few willing to speak on the public record, professor Nikolai Petrovsky from Flinders University in South Australia, did tell me just that last August.
He was surprised, as were other scientists, when it appeared that the very first strains of COVID-19 isolated in December 2019 showed “the virus was already perfectly adapted to infect and transmit between human hosts. How this pre-adaptation to humans came about still needs to be satisfactorily explained.”
The virus suddenly appeared in humans already evolved to be extremely contagious, something scientists say has only been observed in a laboratory.
That doesn’t mean the virus definitely leaked from the Wuhan lab. But it remains the most plausible theory, as it did from day one. The fact that no intermediate animal host has been found in the past 17 months to explain how the virus might have leaped from bats to humans is another strike against the so-called “zoonotic” or natural theory pushed by the Lancet and America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Instead of telling the truth, the world’s scientific establishment deliberately created a false narrative that was swallowed uncritically by most of the media and presented to the public as holy writ.
Scientists used the full weight of their authority to tell a deliberate lie, whether to protect the research method that may have engineered the virus or to contradict a president they didn’t trust.
“Virologists as a group are afraid that public attention being drawn to the possibility of a lab-escape may result in a political backlash and action to shut down even irrelevant virus research,” Petrovsky said.
“If COVID-19 was indeed the result of an accidental lab release this would have enormous ramifications, not just in China, but worldwide. The very question that this might be a lab release terrifies most virologists because of the impact this could have on their future research. Hence a collective desire to shut down this scientific debate early, before it gets public.”
In other words, scientists wanted to keep doing their dangerous Frankenstein research even if it caused a deadly global pandemic, and they didn’t want the public to have a say.
They lied to us so that we wouldn’t scream blue murder and make them stop playing God in the laboratory. We will never trust them again.
Time to win culture war
Ron DeSantis is right: Republicans must aggressively fight back in the culture wars. They didn’t start the wars, but they have an obligation not to shy away from confrontation on social issues.
“The goal is not to just lose ground more slowly,” said the Florida governor in an interview with the Federalist last week. “The goal is to regain ground in an offensive direction . . . Some of these battles with what the left is doing are effectively cultural Marxism. You can have a successful economy, but if the underpinnings of the culture are being torn apart, I don’t think that’s a society that will be very successful.”
Among some of the non-Floridian Republican establishment, there is a genteel distaste for engaging in controversial issues such as critical race theory or transgender sport.
But how hard is it to say that America is not evil, police are not “systematically” racist, men cannot be pregnant, boys should not compete in girls’ sports, children do not have to apologize for the color of their skin, “equity” is a Marxist concept, Antifa is a terrorist group, Facebook doesn’t get to tell us what to think and the intact nuclear family is the best way to raise a child?
That’s what most Americans believe, no matter their race, sex or creed. Fearless leaders are needed to defend our culture, not agreeable milquetoasts. Politicians unwilling to do battle are wasting our time.
Hizzoner needs to cut the crap
Sorry to bring this up, but we need to talk about the toileting habits of the growing army of people who live on the street.
You can’t walk down Eighth Avenue without seeing someone lowering his pants to pee in broad daylight or squatting a block from Times Square over garden beds to do the unmentionable. It’s not sanitary for these poor souls or for anyone who shares this city with them.
If it is the policy of Mayor de Blasio to encourage people to live on the streets, at least provide bathrooms.