Two inquiries are "cloaked in secrecy", WHO lets Beijing vet investigators and it appoints British scientist with links to Wuhan
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Will we ever learn the truth about China and the pandemic? Two inquiries are "cloaked in secrecy", WHO lets Beijing vet investigators and it appoints British scientist with links to Wuhan
By IAN BIRRELL
Mail on Sunday, 19 December 2020, UPDATED 20 December 2020
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Explosive emails from a group of top-level scientists and Government doctors in the United States reveal one suggested Covid-19 could have originated from human activities rather than arising naturally from animals.
Another asked if it might have been deliberately engineered.
The documents also show that a key letter sent early in the pandemic from America’s top scientists to the White House had a line deleted that suggested the virus could have been "an unintentional release from a laboratory".
These revelations come as evidence of China’s cover-up grows, alongside fears the World Health Organisation, widely criticised for its failure to challenge Beijing at the start of the pandemic, is letting the regime dictate its inquiry into the origins.
The WHO has allowed China to vet scientists taking part in the probe, while also appointing to its ten-strong team the British charity chief Peter Daszak whose funding for research on bat viruses in a high-security Wuhan laboratory was stopped on safety grounds.
Daszak, president of Eco-Health Alliance, has led efforts that have dismissed concerns over lab leakage as a ‘baseless’ conspiracy theory. Also, to the fury of critics, he is heading a task force on the pandemic’s origins for The Lancet medical journal.
Although it is crucial to find the pandemic’s source in order to help protect against further eruptions, some experts fear that official investigations will sweep aside even the possibility that Sars-Cov-2 – the strain that causes Covid-19 – might be man-made.
"A lot of time has been lost and there is still no evidence of an effective independent investigation starting into the origins of Covid-19," said Nikolai Petrovsky, professor of medicine at Flinders University in Australia and a leading vaccine researcher.
David Relman, an expert on emerging infectious diseases, has condemned both the WHO and Lancet inquiries for being ‘cloaked in secrecy’ and demanded that conflicts of interest must be "addressed" to ensure credibility.
‘Rather than resorting to hunches and finger-pointing, each scenario must be systematically and objectively analysed using the best available science-based approaches,’ he wrote in the journal of the National Academy of Sciences.
Relman, professor of microbiology and immunology at California’s Stanford University School of Medicine, also challenged those who deny there could have been a laboratory leak. "If Sars-Cov-2 escaped from a lab to cause the pandemic, it will become critical to understand the chain of events and prevent this from happening again," he said. Fears that the scientific establishment closed ranks to protect prominent figures have been intensified with the release – via a freedom of information request – of thousands of revealing emails from Ralph Baric, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina.
Baric’s team carried out controversial research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, creating chimeric viruses (new hybrid micro-organisms) to test the ability of bat-borne viruses to infect human cells. He has admitted they can be made without any signs of manipulation.
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