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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Fauci claims (incorrectly) that the lab leak conspiracy theory is not a conspiracy theory

Here's Fauci being interviewed on MSNBC as part of his book promotion tour (see below). He's asked about the lab leak conspiracy theory beginning at 10 mins. He points out that there's no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) but he's keeping an "open mind" about the possibility that something could be true in the absence of evidence and in the face of considerable evidence for a natural origin.

The most fascinating part of the interview is when he goes out of his way to say that such a possibility doesn't require a conspiracy theory. Really?

A team of investigators from WHO visited the WIV and interviewed the scientists who work there. Those scientists deny that they were working on SARS-CoV-2 or any close relative before the pandemic [World Health Organization (WHO) report on the lab leak conspiracy theory]. One of those scientists was Shi Zhengli, a internationally renowned expert on coronaviruses who publishes in all the best journals. (That's her in the photo.) Here's a quote from an interview with her that was published in Science in July, 2020 [Wuhan coronavirus hunter Shi Zhengli speaks out].

The coronavirus pandemic has thrust virologist Shi Zhengli into a fierce spotlight. Shi, nicknamed “Bat Woman,” heads a group that studies bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), in the Chinese city where the pandemic began. Many have speculated that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19, accidentally escaped from her lab—a theory promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump. Some have even suggested it could have been engineered there.

China has forcefully rejected such claims, but Shi herself has said very little publicly—until now. On 15 July, Shi emailed Science answers to a series of questions about the virus' origin and her research. In them, she hit back at speculation that the virus leaked from WIV. She and her colleagues discovered the virus in late 2019, she says, in samples from patients who had a pneumonia of unknown origin. “Before that, we had never been in contact with or studied this virus, nor did we know of its existence,” Shi wrote.

In order for the lab leak speculation to be correct, Shi Zhengli and all of the graduate students, postdocs, research technicians, and other scientists at WIV must be lying and covering up the fact that they were working with SARS-CoV-2 before the pandemic and then allowed it to escape and infect citizens in Wuhan. That's a massive conspiracy theory. You may want to think that it's true if your mind is open to that possibility but it is still a conspiracy theory and Fauci needs to admit that he actually believes that all those WIV scientists might be lying.


Paul Hutch said...

I like to to think that at this point Dr Fauci is just trying to avoid having to spend more money on family security and the extra worry of further increased death threats against them.

In the current political climate here even what he said this time is likely to bring more MAGA death threats. Mentioning the words conspiracy theory makes those millions of horribly violent americans even more aggressive. They can't be reasoned with to explain that calling it a conspiracy theory does not make it an insult against their dear leader Trump and the majority of the GOP.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's a theory and not a conspiracy theory, at least Fauci got that right.
"A team of investigators from WHO visited the WIV and interviewed the scientists who work there."
Perhaps you missed the part when Peter Daszak was revealed to have been a member of that team. He had collaborated with Dr Zhengli for years, eg:
Ever heard of 'conflict if interest'?
Even the State Department *under Biden* dismissed that pseudo-enquiry as a charade and continued to investigate. It's difficult to prove that the virus leaked from a lab, but it's impossible to prove that it didn't, like your vociferous posts imply. Your Ockham's razor is quite rusty for a 'skeptical biochemist'. Unless you are a skeptical of anything that disagrees with your preconceived notions, i. e. a dogmatist.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people from all ends of the political spectrum question the 'official' Covid narrative and Fauci in particular, not only the tinfoil hat MAGA lunatics. The Intercept (hardly a MAGA outlet, let's agree) shed light on a lot of obscure and dubious practices by the NIH vis a vis the Wuhan lab using public funds:
How trustworthy does Fauci seem to you after reading that article? A lot of people suffered and died, so clearly more definitive answers are needed to some questions, not gaslighting the public and accusing everyone who demands them of being a MAGA fascist.

Larry Moran said...

@anonymous: The people who know whether the WIV was working with SARS-CoV-2 before the pandemic are the scientists, students, and technicians at WIV.

They say they did not know about SARS-CoV-2 until the sequence of the virus from the first patients was reported.

If the virus leaked from the WIV then all these scientists, students, and technicians must be lying to cover up their mistake. That's a conspiracy, by any reasonable definition. If you support the lab leak origin then you have to explain why the scientists are lying. Can you do this without invoking a conspiracy?

If you are keeping an open mind about the lab leak conspiracy then you must be assuming that there's a distinct possibility that all those scientists, students, and technicians are lying about SARS-CoV-2 in spite of the fact that many of them are highly respected scientists whose integrity has never been questioned.

Larry Moran said...

@anonymous said, "A lot of people from all ends of the political spectrum question the 'official' Covid narrative and Fauci in particular, not only the tinfoil hat MAGA lunatics."

That's correct. A lot of people besides the MAGA lunatics question the origin of SARS-CoV-2. But I'm not interested in the uniformed opinion of people who don't know anything about viruses and molecular evolution. Let's talk about the science and evidence and not about the opinions of the State department and media pundits.

What is motivating you to reject the dominant view of the experts in order to keep the lab leak conspiracy theory alive?

David Gorski said...

Yep. I recognized by June 2021 that lab leak had become primarily a conspiracy theory, rather than a serious scientific hypothesis to explain the origin of SARs-CoV-2.