Yesterday, Ed Morrissey wrote about the rather rapid conclusion from the World Health Organization that the novel coronavirus “probably” didn’t come out of either of the advanced viral research labs in Wuhan. Their preferred explanation is the one we heard when the pandemic was first beginning. The mixing of various animals and exotic meats in Wuhan’s wet market was probably to blame. The fact that the WHO wasn’t even allowed to do any serious investigation of the labs didn’t seem to bother them overly much. So I’m sure this is all just a big coincidence, right? As Jim Geraghty points out at National Review, that may turn out to be the truth, but we’re asking the word “coincidence” to do a lot of heavy lifting here.
This virus could well have jumped to humans from an intermediary host species. But we haven’t found this precise virus in any pangolins yet — or for that matter, in any bats. Nor …
Jim’s colleague Brittany Bernstein digs a bit deeper and points out that the more time health experts around the world spend looking at this puzzle, the more you have to wonder if the wet market theory really holds water.
Health experts the world over have said that the novel coronavirus likely originated in Wuhan, China in November 2019. Scientists in recent months have questioned whether the virus originated at a live animal market in Wuhan or was the result of a lab accident at one of the city’s two laboratories — the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Centers for Disease Control — that had been studying coronaviruses that originated in bats.
China has argued that the virus did not start within its borders and instead has peddled other theories that the virus may have originated elsewhere.
The WHO team, which draws on experts from 10 countries, is considering several theories for how the disease first ended up in humans. The team’s work is meant to be an initial step in investigating the origins of the virus, which is believed to have originated in bats before being passed to humans via another species of wild animal, such as a pangolin or bamboo rat.
First of all, I’m not a doctor, nor have I ever played one on TV. Could the virus have accidentally made the jump from animals to people? I suppose so, if that’s what the experts think.
But there are other factors to consider here. One is the fact that the WHO has historically been very deferential to China and the Chinese Communist Party. But far more important is the way the Chinese have behaved since the outbreak began. As Bernstein reminds us, China has punished and imprisoned citizen journalists who have suggested that the virus originated in China. Their government has tossed out laughable claims that it came from elsewhere, including the United States. They’ve locked up their own doctors who have dared to try to put out health information for the public suggesting Wuhan was the origin.
It’s not as if Chinese officials have ever shown much interest in transparency, to begin with, but they’ve really been working overtime to control the flow of information in this regard. They aren’t letting anyone into either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan Centers for Disease Control to investigate.
Now let’s put that in context with the other information. Medical experts from outside of China are questioning the wet market theory. So if it wasn’t the wet market, where else might one look? Oh, there just coincidentally happen to be two major virology labs basically a stone’s throw away, operated by a nation that has a proven track record of experimenting with biological weaponry.
Is this a smoking gun in terms of saying the virus came out of the labs? No. At least not yet. But seeing the WHO write off the possibility without even being able to examine the data shouldn’t inspire confidence in anyone.