Staff members check the instruments for nucleic acid testing at a temporary laboratory in a stadium in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, June 1, 2021. (Xinhua/Liu Dawei)
This represented the "classic disinformation two-step," in which the White House first leaks a lie to a U.S. media outlet, and the latter publishes it as a startling expose; then, the White House conveniently masquerades behind the credibility of the media.
BEIJING, June 23 (Xinhua) -- As more scientists are speaking out against politicizing the origin of COVID-19, it dawns on many that the "lab-leak hypothesis" is not only flawed but typical of U.S. hypocrisy over human rights.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released in March an origin-tracing study report of the China-WHO joint mission, drawing a clear conclusion that lab leak is extremely unlikely. The report, co-authored by more than 30 top global experts in various fields, is widely representative and highly professional.
However, passing through the U.S. government to corporate press, a sinister production line of misinformation has been rumbling recently to mislead the public and demonize China.
"For a leak to occur, the virus must be present in the laboratory already and there would have to be a breakdown of usual regulated laboratory procedures around sample collection and preparation," according to Dominic Dwyer, a member of the WHO team sent to China in January.
"For further spread, the infected worker must transmit the virus to close contacts and through them to the wider community. There is currently no clear evidence that any of these steps have happened," the expert wrote in his latest opinion for The Guardian.
Photo taken on March 30, 2021 shows an exterior view of the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. (Xinhua/Chen Junxia)
What Dwyer referred to were a series of wild speculations about the origin of COVID-19, a deadly pathogen which has so far infected about 179 million across the globe.
As noted by Ethan Siegel, a science writer who has won numerous awards since 2008 for his blog, as the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is in no way near an end, the world is witnessing a tremendous push largely among U.S. politicians to bring "an idea that is largely been circulating among conspiracy theorists, the idea of a lab leak origin for the virus, into the mainstream."
As a result, despite their strenuous efforts to understand and fight the unprecedented global health crisis, Chinese scientists found themselves thrown into the maelstrom of conspiracy theories that have emphatically alleged that the virus originated from a Chinese lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
In stark contrast to U.S. politicians' push to frame the origin of COVID-19 and smear China, scientific consensus has not shifted toward a lab origin, as noted by U.S. writer Mara Hvistendahl in her recent opinion for The Intercept.
"There is still no direct evidence to support a lab leak, and many scientists with no stake in the outcome still say that a natural origin is more likely," Hvistendahl wrote, adding that those are pundits "with the risky combination of a lack of expertise and an agenda" who have argued that a lab leak caused the pandemic.
In fact, the "lab-leak theory" was widely ridiculed last year as Washington scrambled to divert attention from its failure to address the health crisis by trumping up conspiracy theories against China.
People wander near the White House in Washington, D.C., the United States, June 22, 2021. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)
The groundless theory only gained steam recently after Michael Gordon, who wrote either misleading or downright inaccurate articles about the fabricated Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the 2003 invasion, hinted a far-fetched connection between the "sick staff" of a Wuhan lab and the COVID-19 outbreak by quoting a so-called "previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report."
Three days after the publication, the White House announced an order for U.S. intelligence to draw "a definitive conclusion" on the virus' origin.
As U.S. reporters Amy Goodman and David Goodman said in 2004, this represented the "classic disinformation two-step," in which the White House first leaks a lie to a U.S. media outlet, and the latter publishes it as a startling expose; then, the White House conveniently masquerades behind the credibility of the media.
As noted by The World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), till now, "the only evidence presented by the White House, the U.S. intelligence agencies, and the media to support the claim is that employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became ill in late 2019 with symptoms that a State Department report acknowledged are 'consistent with ... common seasonal illnesses.'"
"More than one year into the pandemic, these baseless theories are propounded throughout the corporate press as part of a coordinated international campaign to deflect the burden of blame for the pandemic from the ruling elites' disastrous response against the contagion and thrust it on to the heads of the Chinese government and Chinese scientists," the WSWS commented.
Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a hearing of Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., the United States, on May 26, 2021. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via Xinhua)
In his latest interview with The New York Times, U.S. top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci also appeared to question the "strength" and "confidence" in the U.S. intelligence of connecting the origin of COVID-19 with sick lab staff in Wuhan.
"There is this so-called intelligence that three members of the lab were ill, requiring hospitalization. And I really wonder what the strength of that intelligence is, what the confidence in it is," Fauci said.
"I feel, as do the overwhelming majority of scientists who have knowledge of virology and knowledge of evolutionary biology, that the most likely explanation for this is a natural leap from an animal reservoir to a human," he said.
In the face of overwhelming supports for a natural origin of the virus, some proponents of the "lab-leak theory" then claimed that the evidence for both the natural origin and the "lab-leak" theory is weak and circumstantial.
But David Robertson, head of viral genomics and bioinformatics at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, told The Guardian that the argument has set up a "false equivalence" between them, because a lot of evidence now points to a natural spillover event. ■