Every good prosecutor will tell you that the best case is a strong circumstantial case — and that’s exactly what we have.
What NR’s Jim Geraghty has chronicled for months is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the coronavirus pandemic was generated by an accident — a lab leak, a not-uncommon mishap in medical research conducted by fallible human beings — at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Ditto the important work of Nicholas Wade, Vanity Fair’s Katherine Eban, our own Michael Brendan Dougherty, and a few intrepid others.
Lab accidents are common, and have been known to spawn infectious diseases (including the escape of SARS1 from the Chinese National Virology Institute in Beijing “no less than four times,” according to Wade). WIV scientists were conducting gain-of-function research on bat-based coronaviruses, in particular their capacity to infect humans. The bats in which are found closely related (but, importantly, not identical) viruses do not inhabit the vicinity of Wuhan — they are nearly a thousand miles away from that densely populated city and have limited flight range. The likelihood of naturally occurring interspecies transmission (outside a lab setting) is infinitesimal. The lab conditions in Wuhan were insufficiently safe — grossly so, it appears. Several of the lab’s researchers fell ill (at least three severely enough to be hospitalized) right at the critical time, in autumn of 2019, before the first identified case of infection with SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Here, two additional points are salient. First, those implausibly claiming that the circumstantial case is weak always skip past the inconvenient fact that the circumstantial case for their preferred theory of natural transmission (from bat to human, directly or through an intermediary species) is so weak as to be negligible — there being, most tellingly, no known existence of a bat (or pangolin, etc.) in which a virus matching SARS-CoV2 has been found.
Over at “Starts With a Bang”, we have a dissenting view:
Despite the enormous scientific knowledge humanity has gained, however, an unfounded conspiracy theory about the virus’s origin has gained a lot of traction: that it was genetically engineered with the purpose of infecting humans, that it was leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that’s where it came from. Most recently, disgraced journalist Nicholas Wade has penned an error-filled, misleading piece promoting this nonsense, but the science tells a different story.Starts With a Bang
Essentially, we don’t have the technology to engineer a virus without lots of human testing, which would have been noticed.
Nothing, though, that I’ve seen disproving the notion that a naturally occurring virus might have been accidentally released from the lab in Wuhan.