Nicholson Baker is an author and novelist who has provided his own examination of one of the most common COVID-19 theories.
There are many who believe that the virus did not arise in a natural way. They are convinced that the virus was manipulated in a Chinese lab environment before an accidental escape took place.
Baker claims that the virus had to have been “designed” but to be fair, he is also willing to acknowledge that everything could have happened by chance.
All he is asking for here is some honest consideration. He spoke to various members of the scientific community and New York Magazine has the details.
“I asked Jonathan A. King, a molecular biologist and biosafety advocate from MIT, whether he’d thought lab accident when he first heard about the epidemic. “Absolutely, absolutely,” King answered. Other scientists he knew were concerned as well. But scientists, he said, in general, were cautious about speaking out. There were “very intense, very subtle pressures” on them not to push on issues of laboratory biohazards. Collecting lots of bat viruses, and passaging those viruses repeatedly through cell cultures, and making bat-human viral hybrids, King believes, “generates new threats and desperately needs to be reined in.”
“All possibilities should be on the table, including a lab leak,” a scientist from the NIH, Philip Murphy — chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology — wrote me recently. Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor of endocrinology at Flinders University College of Medicine in Adelaide, Australia, said in an email, “There are indeed many unexplained features of this virus that are hard if not impossible to explain based on a completely natural origin.”
Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, wrote that he’d been concerned for some years about the Wuhan laboratory and about the work being done there to create “chimeric” (i.e., hybrid) SARS-related bat coronaviruses “with enhanced human infectivity.” Ebright said, “In this context, the news of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan ***screamed*** lab release.”
Meanwhile, scientists on the other side of the discussion are not interested in conspiracy theories. “In The Lancet, in February, a powerful counterstatement appeared, signed by 27 scientists. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” the statement said.
“Scientists from multiple countries have published and analyzed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens,” New York Magazine reports.
As for Baker, there are certain aspects of the story that do not make sense to him. “I keep returning to the basic, puzzling fact: This patchwork pathogen, which allegedly has evolved without human meddling, first came to notice is the only city in the world with a laboratory that was paid for years by the U.S. government to perform experiments on certain obscure and heretofore unpublicized strains of bat viruses — which bat viruses then turned out to be, out of all the organisms on the planet, the ones that are most closely related to the disease. What are the odds?” he asked.
Baker has a reason to feel this way. He detailed the initial Gain of Function research that was taking place earlier this decade, under the watch of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Eventually, he had second thoughts. From there, United States doctors continued to work in collaboration with the Chinese. This lead to concerns that they would create a mutated version of the virus.
When it is all said and done, the Chinese do not have much interest in allowing scientists to pin down the virus’ origin. Unfortunately, it is hard to untangle that disinterest from any potential guilt that they may have about accidentally causing this type of disaster. The Chinese government has yet to realize one important thing. This sort of behavior makes them look incredibly guilty, even if they are not directly responsible.