Is The Lab Leak Hypothesis Possible?
Recently, I had a back-and-forth with a fellow named Angelo on this website about the topic of the “lab leak hypothesis,” or the idea that COVID-19 was created in a lab, usually the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and it came out for this or that reason. Specifically, Angelo took issue with my article “The ‘Lab Leak Theory’ Is Still Nonsensical” and how I talked about the lab leak hypothesis as if it were impossible. During the conversation, Angelo told me:
I’m not trying to prove a theory correct to you, nor was I ever. I’m proving that the theory is plausible. Your writing was an attempt to paint the lab leak theory as some wild implausibility. You’ve have available more than enough circumstantial evidence . . . to show that you have to be willfully ignorant of the circumstances to rule out the lab as a possible origin.
People like Angelo who are merely on the fence and want an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 are not who I was attacking in the article. I was talking about people like former The Daily Show host John Stewart, who said in a recent interview with Stephen Colbert that he believed COVID-19 was created in a lab. His evidence for this is the fact that the illness began in Wuhan, China, the same place the Wuhan Institute of Virology is located.
Mind you, Wuhan, China has an area of 3,280 square miles, making it larger than the state of Delaware. Wuhan, China also has wet markets which sell products that are stored in places that are called “perfect for disease” by experts. The wet markets were also much closer to the first outbreaks of COVID-19 than the Wuhan Institute of Virology was. Oh, and bats have already been considered by epidemiologists to be one of the most dangerous animals when it comes to spreading illness.
Here’s a question: If what Stewart said alone is such compelling evidence, why do lab leak advocates have to keep lying about how close the Wuhan Institute of Virology was to the first outbreaks of COVID-19? On 3/20/2021, Senator Ted Cruz tweeted this:
[COVID-19] originated in Wuhan, China. 400 meters away from a [Chinese Communist Party] lab studying coronaviruses derived from bats.
Actually, the Wuhan Institute of Virology is 26,912 meters away from the first outbreaks, not 400 meters. (Also, why is Ted Cruz using the metric system all of a sudden?)
In general, lab-leak advocates have constantly shown to have no idea what they’re talking about. One common point they’ve made is that COVID-19 has never been found in bats. First off, this is wrong, as the BBC reported on 2/10/2021:
They have discovered a virus that is a close match to the virus that causes Covid-19 in bats at a wildlife sanctuary in eastern Thailand. And they predict that similar coronaviruses may be present in bats across many Asian nations and regions. . . In the latest research, a team lead by Lin-Fa Wang of Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore detected a close relative of Sars-CoV-2 in horseshoe bats kept in an artificial cave at a wildlife sanctuary in Thailand. The virus, named RacCS203, is a close match to the genetic code of Sars-CoV-2 (with 91.5% similarity in their genomes). It is also closely related to another coronavirus — called RmYN02 — which is found in bats in Yunnan, China (with 93.6% similarity to the genome of Sars-CoV-2).
Second off, even if this were true, it would not prove anything. COVID-19 is likely the result of a random mutation — meaning the odds of it only being in an incredibly small number of bats is far from impossible. For that matter, it’s also possible that the mutation did not occur in bats, but instead occurred once the virus jumped from bats to humans.
Maybe this is why advocates of the lab-leak hypothesis don’t usually tell you what their evidence is. On 1/2/2021, The New York Post ran an article with the headline “‘Growing body of evidence’ shows COVID-19 leaked from Chinese lab: US official.” Of course, they don’t actually tell us what that evidence is, instead the article informs that then-Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger said it could be the case. (Pottinger, it should be noted, resigned less than a week after that article was published.)
You might remember that back in September 2020, a woman named Li-Meng Yan went on Tucker Carlson Tonight to say that she had evidence that China released COVID-19 on purpose. Of course, she never actually showed us what that evidence was, but trust me, she totally has it.
Also, to respond to a criticism of my original article, some have said that I focused too much on the idea that China released COVID-19 on purpose and not enough on the idea that it was an accident by the Wuhan lab. Even ignoring the fact that a great number of lab-leak believers do think it was done on purpose, the evidence for it being an accident are usually easier to debunk. For example, those who believe in the lab leak theory constantly point out that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was engaging in gain-of-function research on various strains of coronavirus at the same time. However, gain-of-function research is an incredibly well-studied process, meaning there’s simply no way that something like COVID-19 could be created on accident.
Speaking of the above information, some have pointed out the fact that the illness the Wuhan Institute of Virology was studying just before the COVID-19 outbreak was a coronavirus. However, this ignores the fact that coronavirus is not a disease, but instead a category of disease containing everything from SARS to MERS to the Common Cold. In fact, COVID-19 is sometimes also called SARS-CoV-2 because it is so similar to SARS.
In October 2019, Bill Gates hosted a “pandemic simulation” called Event 201 where a number of top medical professionals were told to figure out what they would do if a dangerous strain of coronavirus became a pandemic. To quote from a USA Today article on this topic:
Event 201 was a tabletop exercise that simulated a global pandemic, which resulted from a new coronavirus. The program was hosted in October by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and World Economic Forum.
The invite-only event featured medical professionals, policy experts and business analysts all focused on how different institutions would respond to the onset of a deadly virus. The fictional coronavirus — a coronavirus, in general, being a specific kind of virus — in the scenario killed 65 million people over 18 months. Joint recommendations from participants urged international cooperation both in preparing for and handling a pandemic.
Does this mean that Bill Gates created COVID-19, even on accident? No, it means that we had been warned that a strain of coronavirus could reach pandemic levels for years and top medical experts were studying medical issues.
However, does all of this mean that COVID-19 could not, under any circumstances, have been created in a lab? Of course not, and I would support an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 by a non-bias party in order to see what needs to be improved to stop something like this from happening again.
Here’s the thing many “lab leak” advocates don’t seem to realize, even if COVID-19 was created naturally, that does not mean China is blameless. They still hid information the rest of the world could have used about COVID-19 and silenced whistleblowers like Li Wenliang who tried to warn the world about it before it entered much of the rest of the world. For that matter, even if COVID-19 wasn’t created in a lab, that doesn’t change the fact that gain-of-function research is still rather risky and that China has constantly tried to do dangerous medical experiments that could cause a dangerous pandemic if they’re not careful.
For that matter, if it turns out that COVID-19 did come from bats that would actually be a good argument against China’s environmental policy. In recent decades, China has been known for its constant urbanization and industrialization, as well as its disregard for the concerns of local ecosystems. Last Week Tonight started its 2021 season by going over lessons we learned from the COVID-19 and things both the United States and China need to do in order to stop a future one from occurring. Throughout the segment, Oliver talks about how things like meat consumption and factory farming are causing epidemics and even pandemics in the third world, in China, and in the United States.
However, that answer is inherently more complicated than it just coming out of a lab. For that matter, considering most Americans do not want dramatic changes to their lifestyle — just look at the lockdown protests only a few months after the start of the virus or the fact that Joe Biden won on a campaign of “returning to normal” — the idea that the only way we could stop a future pandemic is through dramatic changes is clearly unnerving. This is also why the idea that Hydroxychloroquine, a common Lupus medication, could work as a treatment for COVID-19 took off so well. Americans were not interested at doing drastic things to stop the current pandemic from continuing, they will be even less willing to do drastic things in order to possibly stop another long-term pandemic from taking place that might not happen anyway.
It’s not a coincidence that a conspiracy theory called “The Great Reset” was first brought up during this pandemic. For those unaware, the term “Great Reset” comes from a series of talks given during a meeting of the World Economic Forum throughout 2020 talking about how to rebuild our economy post-COVID-19. Other issues “The Great Reset” would address would be climate change, income inequality, and global poverty. The actual ideas were nothing special, and were basically nothing more than adding a slight amount of populist to neo-liberal capitalism.
However, this was somehow telephoned into some plot by “the elites” (the World Economic Forum has no actual political power, by the way) to enslave you. Usually in the forms of socialism or by making it so people have to rent everything — despite the fact that the World Economic Forum never talked about either of those things, but that’s besides the point.
But there I am talking about the circumstances that might lead this theory to gain light — and I haven’t even talked about the fact that the Trump administration had already spent its entire term trying to make China the enemy so Trump could continue fighting an unpopular trade-war. Instead, I should just be answering the question at hand: Is it possible that COVID-19 escaped from a lab?
Of course it’s possible, when I called the lab-leak hypothesis nonsense I didn’t mean that there was some magical force-field around the Wuhan Institute of Virology that would prevent a virus from leaking out. The point I was making was that, at this time, there has been no evidence that such a thing occurred.
For that matter, among all the calls for an investigation, I still need evidence that such an investigation would be impartial. Considering now the entire mainstream media and the entire political establishment is trying to make the lab-leak theory stick, the idea that any investigation would not be heavily bias in favor of the lab-leak theory is simply nonsensical.
And even if an investigation confirms that it was wet-markets, are we really to believe its conclusion will be taken seriously? We can tell from the on-going audit in Arizona just how well Republicans take losing, and as of right now the number one goal of the Republican Party is to convince the American people that China is the biggest enemy on the global stage. Republicans spent the entire last year of the Trump administration advocating for rather radical moves — everything from cutting off China’s supply of medicine to the United States to trying to pull out of the World Health Organization — and used hatred of China as their excuse for all of them.
So yes, it is possible COVID-19 came from a lab, but merely “being possible” is not enough to bring me on board, especially when all of the evidence being given to back-up that idea is utter nonsense. An investigation into the origins of COVID-19 would be good, but there’s no way the vast majority of China-hawks would allow any investigation that did not push their narrative. Until someone can provide actual evidence, and thus far nobody has done so, I will not be jumping on the lab-leak bandwagon anytime soon.