“When I am king
You will be first against the wall
With your opinion
Which is of no consequence at all”
Paranoid Android, Radiohead
Rage and Fury.
Two aspects that are very important regarding the discussion whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus has escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) or has spontaneously moved from animal (bat) to humans, possibly through an intermediate host:
First, the timeline of events that preceded the now momentum gaining theory, that the virus has indeed escaped from the WIV. Second, the molecular biological arguments that advocate or oppose this theory. There is so much information available that I can’t take everything into one blog. Moreover, developments are currently taking place very quickly.
It is my intention to write three blogs about this subject. In the first part, I will outline how long it took me to seriously consider the possibility that the SARS-CoV-2 virus had escaped the lab. In the second part, I want to depict the international developments that made this idea mainstream after all, including calls for serious research into this theory. And in the third part, I shall try to explain the biological arguments that have led to realizing that this ‘lab-leak’ is a real possibility.
I understand that there will be an opportunity to submit a number of questions to Marion Koopmans via a new section “Ask Marion”, in the Erasmus University Magazine. Marion then, will give guidance and good advice to all people with questions about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, COVID-19 and the Long-COVID syndrome. Being a virologist, Marion can do that. And she does it all completely selflessly. Section moderator is Marino van Zelst, member of the now sadly defunct Red Team, a team of top scientists that had advised our government on the strategy when dealing with the corona crisis, in addition to the OMT. Partly thanks to him, the Dutch can work comfortably at home, Dutch men and women have a very quiet and relaxed life, saving a lot of money for the future. Together with Marion, he will assess the relevance of the questions and then discuss them. He’s got plenty of time for it now.
I would gladly like to utilize this opportunity, as I still have a number of questions for Marion Koopmans and Maarten Keulemans. The latter will act as Marion’s second, handling the scientific content of the questions. I undoubtedly hope that Marion and Mario will deem my questions relevant and will discuss them in the Erasmus Magazine. I obviously have read the thorough and scientifically substantiated analyses of Maarten Keulemans. He is a science journalist for quality newspaper De Volkskrant, and I must say, I learned a lot from him.nFor example, from Maarten I learned that the Chinese government has determined that no employees of the laboratory in Wuhan were sick in October and November 2019. Furthermore, Chinese scientists did not find any antibodies in the employees of the WIV. They then briefed the President of China, Xi Jinping, and he has ratified it.
Furthermore, Marion Koopmans established that the Wuhan laboratory employees have merely been successful in cultivating just three bat viruses in human cells. That turned out to be so complex, that even Maarten Keulemans was unable to replicate it, when he repeated the experiments himself, certainly with the necessary instructions from Marion via WhatsApp. It’s a strong argument against the idea that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could have escaped the lab. Although the WIV has virtually every known coronavirus in its freezer, it is highly unlikely that just one of these three viruses, capable of infecting human cells, would have escaped the lab.nIn addition, Marion and Maarten worked closely together to take a closer look at the virus in the Erasmus laboratory, and jointly concluded that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is full of random mutations. It has not been tinkered with and must have definitely jumped from animal to human. Marion already noted this during her stay in Wuhan, when visiting the local market where the virus first manifested itself. During this study tour to Wuhan, a trip to the Tongguan Mines had also been planned, but due to maintenance work and major cleaning these were not accessible to the highly educated public, unfortunately.
Moreover, the already obvious conclusion that it must be a zoonosis was strongly confirmed by a letter to the Lancet in 2020, which was signed by all leading virologists, like Christian Drosten, Peter Daszak and Jeremy Farrer, but not by Marion Koopmans and Ron Fouchier. The latter still had some experiments running with the H5N7 influenza virus, which urgently needed to be completed. Marion also had no time as the preparations for her new questions section in the Erasmus Magazine needed way more work than she had thought.
Yet, there were even more arguments for the fact that the SARS-CoV-2 virus must be a zoonosis: Maarten argued that if the virus had escaped from the WIV, and the Chinese government would try to cloak that, they would never succeed. And certainly not in Xi Jinping’s China. That is implausible and impossible. In recent years, Xi Jinping has proven to be a trusted interlocutor for the NIH, enabling American and Chinese scientists to work collaboratively, shoulder to shoulder, conducting scientific research on coronaviruses in the Wuhan lab. Can you imagine a better collaboration in which the United States pays for the scientific research and the Chinese researchers perform it? Xi Jinping favors the West and has been a trusted ally for many years. He has no interest in concealing such an event. That’s a conspiracy theory.n To me, Maarten’s last argument appears his most convincing one and I could have never come up with it myself: Maarten Keulemans has identified that the average non-Chinese world citizen thinks as follows about the SARS-CoV-2 virus: “Scary Chinese + Virus = Accident. Furthermore, in de Volkskrant, Maarten has extensively explained that anyone who doubts the obvious conclusion that it’s a zoonosis, is a low-educated and not particularly bright conspiracy theorist (2).n
These are strong arguments and irrefutable facts, being put forward by Marion Koopmans and Maarten Keulemans. And yet, despite them all, I still have some questions.n
So, do sit tight, especially Maarten, because I wouldn’t want you to suddenly fall of your Beer-Bike again, just on your way to the recently re-opened soccer canteen of the beer-drinkers-team of the 5th class Journalistic Saturday Amateurs of the Royal Association of Journalism (KVJ) (3). You might injure yourself, having only just recovered from the previous fall. And nobody wants you to, as that would mean we would have to miss your in-depth analyses in de Volkskrant and on Twitter. That would really be unfortunate.
In January 2020 I worked at the hospital in Terneuzen, while staying in the cozy family run hotel Trinity. Several evenings, after having finished her work at the end of her long working day, the proprietress often came to sit sociably with the guests. Together we saw the dramatic images from Wuhan, while an outbreak of a new viral infectious disease was reported. I think everyone has vivid memories of the overcrowded hospitals and desperate Chinese doctors begging for ventilators, beds and oxygen.
I well remember me mentioning to the proprietress of the hotel, in response to her question, that if such an outbreak would occur in our country, our intensive care units would also be overflowing with patients in no time, simply because under normal circumstances, they’re already regularly at their maximum capacity. There, at that moment, I never thought for a second that the SARS-CoV-2 virus would spread around the world so fast. After all, the previous similar epidemics with the SARS virus and the MERS virus were contained in no time and had never really reached Europe.nnThat naive thought quickly changed with the arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to Europe, including TV broadcasts of equally dramatic images from Italy. Shortly afterwards, cases were reported in other countries, and eventually also in the Netherlands. With no direct flights from Wuhan to Schiphol, the SARS-CoV-2 virus had asked for directions to fellow passengers at Heathrow and eventually managed to find the gate with flights to the Netherlands. Mid-March 2020, the Netherlands went into an ‘intelligent lockdown’ and outpatient activities in the hospital were shut down. Routinely referred patients were no longer accepted, only emergency patients were still welcome. The number of referrals from general practitioners decreased sharply, and a large proportion of general practitioners even closed their practices for non-emergency patients. Even then, I didn’t fully realize what lay ahead for all of us.
I well remember having almost uncontrollable fits of laughter when seeing a colleague walk into the hospital, armed with a carpenter ruler and with an FFP2 mask on his face, using the ruler at his suddenly dangerous fellow man, every six feet, showing a striking resemblance to Horner Simpson, wearing that FFP2 mask. But soon the situation changed and so did the behavior of my colleagues: The atmosphere grew more sinister and grimmer. Brooms were placed on the chairs in the waiting room to prevent anyone from suddenly walking into the doctor’s office, and other colleagues anxiously kept their distance, partly for fear of infecting vulnerable family members.
I myself have never feared the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as my parents have already passed away and I do not have many vulnerable relatives or friends who could probably become seriously ill with COVID19. As soon as the intelligent lockdown went into effect, with the aim of ‘flattening the curve’, I quite understood that. I could not yet imagine that the boundaries to maintain and enforce the corona measures and the lockdowns were constantly being moved, from ‘flattening the curve’, via, according to the media, a continuous threat of ‘engulfing the intensive care units’, to an instrument of pressure and coercion to get as many people as possible vaccinated, whether they need it or not.
Meanwhile working at the Ikazia Hospital in Rotterdam, I saw how different departments and ICUs were ramped up for the growing flow of patients with COVID19, and how work at the outpatient clinic changed; from examining patients live to ‘examining’ patients via video calls and speaking by phone, although I only did such during the lockdown; otherwise, I just met with all my patients in person.
On duty in the Ikazia, at the ER I found one of the residents, looking glum. For several weeks he hadn’t liked his job at all, looked pale and anxious, and mentioned he just had a little baby and didn’t want to die just yet. Whereupon I gave him a good flick on the back of his head, telling him to turn back to normal as it was simply our job to take care of patients. To add, that by the time he got sick, I would have long since been lying quietly and peacefully on my belly in the ICU, indulging myself on Propofol and Midazolam.n
At that time, I started to have doubts about how this crisis was handled, which only grew stronger in the months following. The fact that Jaap van Dissel occasionally made hilariously stupid statements in the media and on television did not surprise me at all. I had often experienced that with professors, frequently people with a very narrow view on society and people who had not been contradicted for years. My anxiety started when the government made a 180-degree turn around about wearing masks, showing an evolution in their policy, changing from ‘not useful’, via an ‘urgent advice’ to wear masks, eventually ending with an obligation as of December 1, 2020. Jaap van Dissel had spontaneously forgotten that he earlier had stated that masks were not useful, parroted by Hugo de Jonge.
I was highly surprised when I saw the first colleagues voluntarily walking through the hospital wearing a face mask, even at a time where the official position of the Dutch government and National Institute for Health and Environment (RIVM) stated that it was not useful at all. Even then I could still smile at such stupidity, superstition and lack of knowledge. That surprise turned into astonishment during a visit to the Radboud University Hospital, where, a day after issuing the ‘urgent advice’, everyone, without exception, was wearing a mask. This university hospital should be a stronghold of evidence-based medicine, where one should critically examine everything one does in health care with a scientific eye. However, without any criticism at all, my academic colleagues slavishly followed the advice of a Minister of Public Health who has no understanding at all about science or medicine. Without any protest, and apparently without any doubt. Rarely has the medical community lost its spirit and has it disgraced itself as at that time.n
But even then, I still didn’t realize that this was just the beginning of a mass psychosis that took hold of almost all of Europe. Except for Sweden, where science, wisdom and experience, knowledge and skill eventually survived, not least because of the great confidence the Swedish people had and have in the policy, and because of the beacon of tranquility and wisdom, Anders Tegnell. Sweden barely held out, because, although Anders Tegnell came under fierce international pressure, he calmly, almost stoically, kept control. To this day he enjoys the confidence of the majority of the Swedish people, while most Dutch people look scornfully and cynically at yet another computing model of Jacco Wallinga, digital modeler of infectious diseases that escape from his computer, subsequently presented to the Dutch House of Representatives by a stuttering and wavering Jaap van Dissel. The same House, apart from a few members like Van Haga, that swallowed the countless grotesque predictions – all, almost without exception, totally unrealistic – the often absurd recommendations, and ridiculous and completely unproven provisions proposed by the triad Mark Rutte, Hugo de Jonge and Ferd Grapperhaus, on faith only, again and again.
The House of Representatives that didn’t even act against a Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport who piled one blunder after another, not only squandering billions of public funds but also the trust of a large part of the Dutch people. The same Hugo de Jonge who, as a true Minister of Propaganda for the pharmaceutical industry, touted the vaccines as the only just solution as remedy against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and did not even hesitate to, despite the very limited knowledge of the safety of the vaccines in the short and long term and without a shred of knowledge, present the vaccines as completely safe. This all accompanied by the abhorrent and immoral statement that he had ‘no understanding at all’ for people who rejected to be vaccinated. The latter was not particularly surprising, as in the past year and a half he had repeatedly shown that he had no understanding of the situation anyway.
After the initial bewilderment, I started to get angry. Very angry. Rarely in my life have I been so furious as the moment when the House of Representatives and the Senate first approved the Emergency Act, submitted by the foolish schoolteacher, now completely detached from reality, and subsequently the curfew. All without any precedent in history showing that the provisions taken, including curfews and lockdowns, would have the slightest effect on the spreading of the virus, as confirmed by now in many studies. Afterwards completed by the institution of an enormous testing circus, in which even asymptomatic people – also called healthy people in the past – had to be tested, together with people having a runny nose, a cough, some fever, some headache, a day of diarrhea; people who normally would go to bed for a day, with a cup of hot milk, and then just got on with life. It had never been shown before, not even for way more serious infectious diseases than COVID19; it should have never been shown, and it should never be shown again.
At that time, I wrote my first piece, with full confidence that this madness could still be stopped with good arguments and for everyone to understand. I wrote a letter to four major newspapers, later to my first, edited, blog: “The Law of Large Numbers”. Although, shortly afterwards, an article, quite identical to my blog, appeared in the newspaper NRC, it had no effect at all on the – completely out of hand – mantra: ‘test, test, test’; the mantra of the biomedically deranged members of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), which later proved to be very financially beneficial to some of them. Anyone who wants to earn a lot of money from health care has to leave his moral principles in the parking lot of the hospital.
It must have been at that time when I saw Donald Trump speak on TV about the ‘China Virus’, pointing an accusing finger at China and blaming Xi Jinping of having started ‘a biological war’. Fully automatically, I classified these statements under this man’s ‘alternative facts’, since these determined Trump’s highly narrowed world view.
Now, looking back on that period, I realize that despite my innate and increased skepticism, aversion to and mistrust of politicians, administrators and many alleged ‘experts’ during the course of my life, I still too much and too often assumed them having good intentions, knowledge and skills. At the age of 50, I should have known better. But even in the months that followed, I could not seriously accept the hypothesis that the SARS-CoV-2 virus might have escaped from the lab in Wuhan, to which Trump firstly suggesting this – not particularly bothered by arguments – must undoubtedly have played a major role.nnMeanwhile, the world sank deeper into the steaming quagmire of massively testing healthy people, initiating the most bizarre, crazy and insane provisions, instituting a curfew, including beating young and old, even children, out of forests, beaches and parks. All executed by the new Brown Shirts of the State, facilitated by government; uniformed and degenerated scum, led by mayors suffering from serious character deterioration, such as Femke Halsema and Jan van Zanen, under the approving eye of Fred Grapperhaus. The police and the Department of justice participated enthusiastically, like in any totalitarian system. Anonymous and chicken-hearted police officers, hiding behind a mask, helmet and shield, slashed like hooligans themselves, into everything and everyone they thought they had to deny the right to peacefully protest.
The victims, civilians from all layers of society, who were not only denied the right to protest, but also the right to earn a living, the right to be with family and friends without fear, the right to being outside whenever they wanted to and the right to visit cinema, theater, restaurant or pub. Those who did not wish to abide by this health dictatorship, were spied upon and, if possible, brought in by those new, State appointed, NSB-members, the BOA’s. (Extraordinary Investigation Officers). In our village, a restaurant owner was fined thousands of euros because at 6:05 pm two people, who hadn’t finished their beers yet were still sitting on the terrace. As it turned out, the two BOAs had already been waiting to act for an hour, in their car parked in an inconspicuous place, overlooking the terrace. The past year has taught us again, as so often in history, that no sneakier, more immoral and more unreliable species exists, than riffraff in a state-paid uniform. I was convinced that humanity had made some progress in this regard, but as many before us must have had that illusion, I was brutally released from this naive thought.
Children were denied the right to education, schools were closed, and with it the right to laugh and play with friends. Teenagers were denied the right to have fundamental social interaction with their peers. They were put off with inferior education through video calls, without any social contact and without any interaction with teacher or classmates. The number of suicides among teenagers and adolescents is many times greater than the death toll from COVID19, which is probably zero among children and adolescents, and the only health institution that really came to ‘Code Black’ was juvenile and adolescent psychiatry (2). And to prevent them from opening their mouths and protest, they were quickly obliged to wear a mask during the few days they were allowed to go to school, even for 11- and 12-year-olds in primary school. All, just for a virus from which they themselves do not or hardly get sick, and almost never die from. Even worse, they were ‘educated’ by the behavioral unit of the RIVM, the new Department of Fear, led by a dismissed internist-infectiologist, who indoctrinated them with the fable that, if they did not comply with the provisions, they might cause the death of their grandmother, grandfather, father or mother. Rarely, a government, flanked by biomedical science, has behaved so criminally towards our children. What I wish for them is not appropriate to write down here, but not a day goes by without me wanting to inflict the most terrible things on those responsible.
Even our elderly people were not asked anything, the Holy Hunt for the Killer Virus made it no longer matter to the government and OMT how they wished to spend their very last period in life. Shamelessly they were locked up in their small and dark rooms, to spend their last days in solitude. They were forcibly tested, tested again and tested again, even though they were deeply demented and with the last remnant of strength left in their worn-out bodies and minds, defended themselves with all their might against this health terror, imposed by virologists, immunologists and microbiologists. They only met caretakers wearing masks and splash screens, were no longer allowed to eat together and all social activities were cancelled. And if they did manage to spend half an hour in fresh air just going for a walk, upon return they were again locked in for 14 days, as punishment for such irresponsible behavior. And, of course, tested again.
I hope that all medically educated ladies and gentlemen finally comprehend that they have enthusiastically participated in this criminal policy, just like their colleagues in the late 1920s and early 1930s enthusiastically participated in eugenics, something they later preferred not to be reminded of (9, 10). Nowadays it is not eugenics but the ‘euvaccinatia’ that creates a strict division in society, with the vaccinated being the ‘Übermensch’ and the unvaccinated the ‘Untermensch’, regardless of whether that ‘Untermensch’ is protected by his or her own immune system, after having dealt with the infection itself. An immune system perfectly performing for tens of thousands of years, including today. Who cares, those ‘Untermenschen’ just get an electronic ‘not-vaccinated star’ stuck on them and will be banned from stadiums and festivals.
These gentlemen and ladies medical practitioners, apparently devoid of any historical awareness, people like Ernst Kuipers, Diederik Gommers, Kàroly Illy and Patricia Bruining, can be satisfied: They have managed to establish the National Medical State.n
And of course, there came the parasites crawling out of social holes, cracks and crevices, attracted to big money, like shit flies to cow dung. Greedy and opportunistic brood of vipers like Sywert van der Linden, Jan Kluytmans and many others, who, through cunning and deceit, and without any shame, filled themselves with tax money that Hugo de Jonge threw out of the window of the House of Representatives in large quantities. Outside, where it softly sprinkled on the heads of the lobbyists, the gentlemen and ladies of microbiology and virology, people like Ab Osterhaus, who earned six million euro with his ‘advisory centre’, Jan Kluytmans who bought a nice house with his hard-stolen-money, and Marion Koopmans, who finally got the ‘Knowledge Center for Pandemics and other Disasters’ that she had so eagerly desired, generously financed with tax money.
Everything highly to the delight of the Tax Authorities, which will soon, with increased courage and renewed energy, be busy again, squeezing out more money from the already badly affected middle class, hospitality industry and other people who do perform useful work. This, to give the next retarded piece of ignorance, which the political center of the Netherlands generates in endless amounts at any ministry or department, again the opportunity to throw this money anew into the, by that time, brand new canal of the Binnenhof, with billions at a time.
The only real disaster that has hit our country particularly hard in the past, includes people like Koopmans, Osterhaus and Kluytmans, two of them representatives of the OMT, and politicians whose only requirement was that they had a valid Certificate of Inability, before they were given permission to swing the Demolition Hammer wildly into our society. To then proudly dance on the ruins.
God looked down, shaking his wise and gray head. He streaked his gray beard repeatedly, thoughtfully twirling curls at its tip. At the time, he should have limited his working week to just five days. That sixth day had been just one too many, he would have been much better off snoozing and sleeping under the tree he had given to Adam and Eve.
True, His sixth say Creation had certainly not been His best. After five days he had been tired, he had actually run out of inspiration, and that day he had rushed His work of creation. And now they, the very Creation that should have been the crown on His Work, were making an incredible mess of it for years now. That sixth day, he really shouldn’t have done it. How was he ever going to clean the rivers and seas again, since the rivers got clogged and the seas silted up by the huge mountain of face masks that were carelessly thrown away by His Failed Creatures. Initiated by two people who even claimed to belong to His Fan Club. He should really expel them. Mary’s disobedience was nothing compared to that, damn.
He had told them to be a little careful with His Creation, but nothing had come of it. And now there was no way back, He had no other choice, and would just have to let them drown in their own mess. After all, they had caused this. At least there would be no place for man on the ark at the next flood, that much was certain. At least not for the members of His own Fan Club.
The already strong winds of the corona frenzy increased to hurricane strength, doing its devastating work in our society, but as always wreaking havoc among the very poorest of the earth. There was no dancing anymore, only the sledgehammer was still being used, by reason of people like Mark Rutte becoming more “inspired” by the woolly and confused thoughts of an ex-consultant, who in reality had no knowledge of, or experience with, combatting a pandemic, then taking advice from real specialists like Martin Kulldorf, Sunetra Gupta and Jay Bhattacharya. Mark Rutte, who would rather read Tomas Pueyo’s muddled pseudo-scientific drivel than the numerous pieces written by Martin Kulldorff. It is the perfect demonstration that such utter ignoramuses should not be allowed to decide on important matters, simply because they cannot separate the wheat from the chaff, and therefore have no idea which advisors and experts to believe and which not. It makes them particularly easy prey, sitting ducks, for the many lobbyists, like the ones of the pharmaceutical and biomedical industry, for whom the red carpet was rolled out in political The Hague, when the SARS-CoV-2 virus spread around the world.
In the meantime, I was reading as much as possible to create some order in the chaos in my head and around me, both scientific articles and reflective papers, in which authors shed their light on the developments. People like C.J. Hopkins, but also several authors of the American Institute of Economic Research. By accident I came across the Great Barrington Declaration (1), written by three scientists who represent the absolute top in their field, and in their statement argued for a ‘focused protection’ of the vulnerable people while allowing the virus to spread in other parts of the population, that had little or nothing to fear from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. All based on widely available knowledge and expertise, as laid down in various guidelines and protocols, but in which the policy pursued until then was never mentioned as a possible option. The available knowledge was mindlessly thrown over the fence with China when this country aggressively forced its totalitarian corona approach on the rest of the world.
Although I guessed that the pinnacle of madness had already been reached, it turned out that it could be worse. Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta and Jay Bhattacharya were attacked, condemned, ridiculed, marginalized and besmirched, mostly by politicians, doctors and scientists who had no experience or knowledge of Public Health. The mainstream media contributed magnanimously by stating most arrant nonsense as absolute truths, without even for a moment exploring the valid and strong arguments these three people put forward.
Thereafter, I read everything I could find of these top three scientists, and so they became the beacons of scientific reason and the much-needed experience of putting them into practice (2). Meanwhile it has become clear that the policy proposed and implemented by them appeared the only correct one, as can now be regarded proven in Sweden and also in Florida. Florida, where Republican governor Ron de Santis was one of the few who had himself guide by the advice of Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya, Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff and Oxford’s Carl Heneghan and Sunetra Gupta (3). It is the absolute top of science in Public Health of the three most highly regarded universities in the world, to which, for instance, a Jaap van Dissel, a Patricia Bruining, a Jacco Wallinga, a Marc Bonten, a Kàrola Illy, a Jan Kluytmans and a Marion Koopmans look slightly pale and thin. I hope they don’t sleep peaceful anymore for the rest of their lives, although I fear they won’t lose any sleep over it.
As the corona frenzy descended to a new low, the question of the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus had completely faded into the background. Donald Trump was no longer president, Anthony Fauci had full confidence of the new Democratic president Biden, and all experts unanimously agreed that in all probability it had to be a zoonosis, in which the virus must have jumped from animal to human. After all, this had also been the case with SARS and MERS?
Although my confidence in science and politics had already taken a devastating blow during the preceding months, this explanation seemed plausible and probably the only correct one.nnThat changed when I opened a Twitter account and came across the intricate threads of a young postdoc from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Although I initially didn’t understand everything that she wrote in her Twitter threads, I was particularly impressed by her great knowledge and her scientifically sound arguments, always accompanied by solid scientific references. And it was this brilliant young postdoc from MIT who was the first to seriously raise the possibility that the SARS-CoV-2 virus might have escaped the WIV. Please note! She didn’t say it was certain that the virus had escaped the lab, but based on multiple strong arguments, she just suggested the possibility. What those arguments are, I will discuss in detail in part three of this series.
It was also at that time when the most extreme conspiracy theories circulated – some of which, such as the impending vaccination apartheid in society and the vaccination passport, have now become reality, something I would have thought absolutely impossible a year and a half ago – and Alina Chan had little need to support those theories in the idea that it was a biological weapon that had been deliberately released by China from the WIV (4). She also realized that if she would publish her arguments, she would immediately be placed in the Trump camp. But for Chan, politics and conspiracy theorists were subordinate to science and, based purely on scientific arguments, supporting her hypothesis. And so she published her findings (5).
In her scientific paper, she first convincingly torpedoed the hypothesis that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could come from the Wuhan market. Then, based on data collected by her and a friend data analyst, she gave the three theoretical possibilities for the origin of the virus. Her analysis showed, among other things, that the virus had been remarkably well equipped to infect humans, immediately from the start of the outbreak. This had not been the case with SARS and MERS, and these two viruses evolved in the population in the first months after the outbreak, adapting more and more to human biology. All conforming to the old virological theory that viruses generally become more contagious and less deadly. Remarkably, the SARS-CoV-2 did not undergo this evolution, as Chan convincingly demonstrated. It was Alina Chan’s twitter thread explaining her findings, that made me painfully realize that this was anything but a wild conspiracy theory but a serious possibility that should be thoroughly investigated.
A few days after her article appeared on the preprint server (https://www.medrxiv.org) , The Guardian got wind of the publication, a few days later followed by an article in Newsweek, the second-largest weekly magazine in the United States. This magazine published an article on May 17, 2020, with the expressive title: “Scientists Shouldn’t Rule Out Lab as Source of Coronavirus, New Study Says.” (8) I came across Chan’s article much later, simply because, until then, I had never seriously considered the possibility. It was that moment when, according to Chan, “Shit exploded everywhere.”
This also is the moment where personal events started that guided me in realizing that a ‘lab-leak’ had become a real possibility which, until then, had never been properly investigated. I started off by studying the social and scientific developments, partly retrospective, that had led to the resurrection of this ‘lab-leak’ hypothesis. I read as many papers on this subject as possible in high-quality international newspapers and magazines – realizing I am walking on slippery ground stating this, as has become painfully clear in the past year – but also the relevant medical literature.
And that moment also marks the end of this blog, starting off the next one.
- Why I Had to Speak Out Against Lockdowns. ,Martin Kulldorff, Spiked June 6, 2021 https://www.realclearpolitics.com/2021/06/06/why_i_had_to_speak_out_against_lockdowns_544463.html
- Vindication for Ron DeSantis. Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2021
- Could COVID-19 Have Escaped from a Lab? Boston Magazine. September 9, 2020. https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2020/09/09/alina-chan-broad-institute-coronavirus/
- SARS-CoV-2 is well adapted for humans. What does this mean for re-emergence?https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.01.073262v1