When the COVID-19 pandemic spread all over the world in early 2020, the Chinese government covered up its origin. The Chinese cover up quickly extended to US academics with conflicts of interest, prestigious medical journals, the media, and the key advisor to the US President, Anthony Fauci.
It was an orchestrated effort to hide the obvious, which was too painful to admit, that the pandemic was highly likely caused by a lab leak in Wuhan, and that the virus, SARS-CoV-2, was highly likely manufactured at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In this lab, researchers take a harmless virus and make it deadly by genetic modification in so-called gain-of-function experiments.
The cover-up was highly effective. It shaped the public opinion that the virus had a natural origin and had spread from animals to humans, even though not a single thread of evidence in support of this idea has ever been produced. Chinese censorship and threats against those who knew better won the first round but the game has now been lost.
According to multiple US government officials interviewed as part of a lengthy investigation in 2023, the first three people infected by the virus and who were all admitted to hospital have now been named.
They all worked in the lab where they did gain-of-function experiments including Ben Hu who led this research. One US investigator said: “We were rock-solid confident that this was likely COVID-19 … They’re trained biologists in their thirties and forties. Thirty-five-year-old scientists don’t get very sick with influenza.” One of the researchers’ family members later died.
Furthermore, on 19 November 2019, the safety director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences made a visit, according to the institute’s website. He addressed a meeting of the institute’s leadership with important “oral and written” instructions from China’s president, Xi Jinping, regarding “a complex and grave situation.”
When the Wuhan Institute put out their first paper about the pandemic virus, they failed to point out the novel furin cleavage site despite having had plans to insert this and also did insert it in SARS-like viruses in their lab. A molecular biologist from Harvard said that “It’s as if these scientists proposed putting horns on horses, but when a unicorn shows up in their city a year later, they write a paper describing every part of it except its horn.”
The US role in the cover up
China was not alone in leading the whole world astray. Newly released emails and messages reveal that US top scientists lied to Congress during a hearing in July 2023 and also lied profusely about the concerns they had in early 2020 that the pandemic might very well have been due to a lab leak of a virus manufactured with financial support from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Without any evidence, Robert Garry told Congress that the virus had emerged in nature and not from a lab. Kristian Andersen denounced Republicans for spreading a “conspiracy theory” that he and Garry had worked with Presidential advisor Anthony Fauci in early 2020 to produce disinformation about COVID’s origin in their 17 March 2020 Nature Medicine paper, “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2.”
The authors wrote that, “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.” Their analyses didn’t show anything; it was just rhetoric, and a group of 14 concerned scientists documented that Andersen et al.’s arguments were logically flawed. In my view, the article in Nature Medicine is fraudulent and should be retracted because one of the definitions of scientific misconduct involves deliberate distortion of the results.
The paper had an enormous influence on shaping public opinion and has been viewed nearly 6 million times. When I investigated what social media’s so-called fact-checkers said about the origin of the virus, I quickly found a fact check that called it false that someone had said that the virus had been manipulated, explaining that “experts have refuted the claim that the virus is not naturally occurring.” The source of this refutation was the nonsense in Nature Medicine.
Other fact-checkers were equally gullible. When one of my colleagues posted a message on Facebook about one of the best articles ever written about the origin of the pandemic, from May 2021, his post was first labelled “Missing context,” and next it was removed. Again, they referred to Andersen and colleagues and they used superlatives to further their case, e.g. the 27 people that signed a highly misleading Lancet letter (see below) were called eminent scientists.
It was not a “conspiracy theory” that Andersen had worked with Fauci and other “higher ups” when he decided to spread misinformation. It is a fact. Pressure from “higher ups” led Andersen and Garry to abandon the lab-leak theory as implausible. Moreover, the newly released documents reveal that Andersen still suspected that a lab leak of a manufactured virus was possible a month after Nature Medicine published their article, and two months after they published a preprint.
Their U-turn made some “higher ups” happy. On 16 April 2020, NIH Director Francis Collins emailed Fauci that he hoped the Nature Medicine article “would settle this … Wondering if there is something NIH can do to help put down this very destructive conspiracy.”
Andersen explained to Congress that his sudden change in belief in early February 2020 was based on “many factors, including additional data, analyses, learning more about coronaviruses, and discussions with colleagues and collaborators.”
This wasn’t true. Andersen wrote on 1 February 2020: “I think the main thing still in my mind is that the lab escape version of this is so friggin’ likely to have happened because they were already doing this type of work and the molecular data is fully consistent with that scenario.” The newly released messages reveal nearly 60 clear statements between 31 January and 28 February 2020 by Andersen and his colleagues expressing their belief that a lab leak, and the bioengineering of viruses, were the origin of COVID-19.
This article was written by Peter C. Gøtzsche from the Brownstone Institute