The report was syndicated across much of the western media late last night in what might be regarded as a co-ordinated attempt to pre-empt the inquiry announced recently by the Biden administration.
Shi Zhengli’s denial of any possibility of a Wuhan lab leak merely repeats what she has said for more than a year, which is that while the lab was engaged in researching hybrid bat coronaviruses, as detailed in her 2017 paper, Wuhan was not part of any gain of function research to investigate whether they might have been made more virulent.
Most importantly, she strenuously denies any possibility of the virus having escaped accidentally. Despite initial speculation about this in early 2020, and claims that Shi had been muzzled, the Fauci emails and the renewed focus on the papers published by Li Meng Yan and others have meant that the origin of Covid 19 is by no means a settled question.
Shi, the Chinese and others persist in claiming that there is nothing to hide, but even the Biden administration and the WHO are now admitting that the WHO’s own investigation which involved scientist Peter Daszak, who is at the heart of the current controversy, was not extensive enough.
Most importantly – and this is worth bearing in mind given what has been the official position in the west for more than a year –the possibility of a lab leak can not in fact be ruled out. The Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, admitted as much several months ago.
Given the origin, if one pardons the pun, of this latest story in the NYT, and Shi’s accompanying messaging, one cannot escape the impression that some degree of damage limitation and possible pre-empting of the report ordered by Biden is being gamed.
It is important to realise that Biden’s directive to the American intelligence services came about after an initial report he ordered in March did not provide the basis for a definitive assessment. The very fact that it did not as predicted rubbish the leak theory is most significant. Biden’s own press statement on May 26 stated:
while two elements in the IC (Intelligence Community) leans toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter – each with low or moderate confidence – the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.
So why, pending the new report, do the New York Times and others – including the Chinese authorities – seem to be acting to pre-empt that investigation? Presumably, Shi’s evidence will be taken into account as it already, no doubt, has been. It is also notable that in her message reported in the Times, that she personalises the whole matter by referring to people “constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist.”
Which is exactly of course what has been done to fellow virologist Li Meng Yan and others who have questioned what has been until now a blanket official position regarding the origin of the virus – alongside an uncritical acceptance as to how the crisis has been handled by governments in the west.
The syndicated media reports of Shi’s latest statements almost all fail to refer to the impetus behind the revival of interest in the lab leak theory. Some refer to the “conspiracy theory” about the leaks – but don’t reflect on the fact that this ‘conspiracy’ is now taken so seriously that both the Biden administration and the WHO have been forced to reassess the evidence.
The Irish taxpayer-funded station, RTÉ, maintains its role as a faithful parrot of course. While it dutifully carried Shi’s denials of any leak this morning, there is no mention of Li Meng Yan’s assertions to be found anywhere on the news site, despite the increasing numbers within the global scientific community who are taking her claims seriously.
They do take time to explain to the Irish people that “the leak hypothesis had been floated earlier during the global outbreak, including by Mr Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, but was widely dismissed as a conspiracy theory.” Of course, once Trump was seen to be considering a theory as worth investigating the media were always going to fail to do their job of fact-finding or challenging the narrative.
Despite all that, the truth can’t stay hidden forever. The next few weeks might prove very interesting.
|Matt Treacy has published a number of books including histories of |
the Republican Movement and of the Communist Party of Ireland.