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Beijing’s useful idiots Science journals have encouraged and enforced a false Covid narrative

What impact will China have on future pandemics? Credit: STR/AFP via Getty

What impact will China have on future pandemics? Credit: STR/AFP via Getty


June 8, 2021   8 mins

Just over a year ago, I stumbled across an intriguing scientific paper. It suggested the pandemic that was ripping around the world was “uniquely adapted to infect humans”; it was “not typical of a normal zoonotic infection” since it first appeared with “exceptional” ability to enter human cells. The author of the paper, Nikolai Petrovsky, was frank about the disease when we spoke back then, saying its adaptability was either “a remarkable coincidence or a sign of human intervention”. He even broke the scientific omertĂ  by daring to admit that “no one can say a laboratory leak is not a possibility”.

But even though Petrovsky has excellent credentials — professor of medicine at a prominent Australian university, author of more than 200 papers in scientific journals and founder of a company funded by the US government to develop new vaccine technologies — I was still anxious when my story went global. His original document had been posted on a pre-print site, so had not been peer reviewed, unlike if it had been published in a medical or scientific journal. These sorts of sites allow researchers to get findings out quickly. Petrovsky told me his first attempt to place these seismic findings was on BioRxiv, run by prominent New York laboratory. But it was rejected; eventually he succeeded on ArXiv, a rival server run by Cornell University. Last week, however, he told me this important origins modelling paper had finally been accepted by Nature Scientific Reports after “a harrowing 12 months of repeated reviews, rejections, appeals, re-reviews and finally now acceptance”.

This acceptance is one more sign of the changing political climate as suddenly it is deemed permissible to discuss the possibility that the virus causing havoc around the world might have emerged from a laboratory. Petrovsky has had to endure what he calls “the legitimacy” of his paper as a peer-reviewed publication being denied for a critical 12 months — and he is far from alone. “I have heard all too many tales from other academics who have been equally frustrated in getting their manuscripts dealing with research into the origins of the virus published,” he said.

Bear in mind that in the heat of this pandemic, papers printed in important journals were peer-reviewed within 10 weeks; one rattled through the process in just nine days for Nature. But, like Petrovsky, I have heard similar stories from many other frustrated experts who confronted the conventional wisdom that this lethal virus was a natural spillover event. Some could not even get letters published, let alone challenge those key papers promoting the Chinese perspective which have since turned out to be flawed or wrong.

Only now is acceptance emerging that the science establishment colluded to dismiss the lab leak hypothesis as a conspiracy theory, assisted by prominent experts with clear conflicts of interest, patsy politicians and a pathetic media that mostly failed to do its job. And yet, at the heart of this scandal lie some of the world’s most influential science journals. These should provide a forum for pulsating debate as experts explore and test theories, especially on something as contentious and fascinating as the possible origins of a global pandemic. Instead, some have played a central role in shutting down discussion and discrediting alternative views on the origins, with disastrous consequences for our understanding of events.

Many scientists have been dismayed by their actions. “It is very important to talk about the scientific journals — I think they are partially responsible for the cover-up,” said Virginie Courtier-Orgogozo, a leading French evolutionary biologist and key member of the Paris Group of scientists challenging the established view on these issues. The rejection of the lab leak hypothesis, she argues, in many places was not due to Trump’s intervention but the result of “respectable scientific journals not accepting to discuss the matter”.

The Paris Group, for instance, submitted a letter to The Lancet in early January signed by 14 experts from around the world calling for an open debate, arguing that “the natural origin is not supported by conclusive arguments and that a lab origin cannot be formally discarded”. This does not seem contentious. But it was rejected on the basis it was “not a priority for us”. When the authors queried this decision, it was reassessed and returned without peer review by editor-in-chief Richard Horton with a terse dismissal saying “we have agreed to uphold our original decision to let this go”. The authors ended up publishing their statement on a pre-print site.

Yet this is the same prestigious journal that published a now infamous statement early last year attacking “conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin“. Clearly, this was designed to stifle debate. It was signed by 27 experts but later turned out to have been covertly drafted by Peter Daszak, the British scientist with extensive ties to Wuhan Institute of Virology. To make matters worse, The Lancet then set up a commission on the origins — and incredibly, picked Daszak to chair its 12-person task force, joined by five others who signed that statement dismissing ideas the virus was not a natural occurrence.

Horton has been scathing about British government failures on the pandemic, even publishing a book lambasting them. Perhaps he would do well to turn his critical fire on his own journal’s failings as its 200th anniversary approaches. This is, remember, the same organ that inflamed the anti-vaccine movement by promoting Andrew Wakefield’s nonsense on MMR jabs — and then took 12 years to retract the damaging paper. But it is far from alone. The Paris Group has been collecting details of dissenting scientists, whose letters or critical articles were rebuffed by key journals which include Nature and Science, another two of the world’s most influential vehicles for scientific debate.

Nature’s stance has been especially questionable. Around the same time as Daszak’s letter was printed, a statement started appearing at the top of some previously-published papers such as one on “gain of function research” by US virologist Ralph Baric and Shi Zhengli, the “batwoman” expert from Wuhan, entitled “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence”. This carefully-crafted note said such papers were being used as “basis for unverified theories that the novel coronavirus causing Covid-19 was engineered”, adding “there is no evidence that this is true; scientists believe that an animal is the most likely source of the coronavirus”.

Nature also published a landmark paper from Prof Shi and two colleagues, sent to them on the same day last January that China belatedly admitted to human transmission. This detailed the existence of a virus called RaTG13 that was taken from a horseshoe bat and stored at Wuhan Institute of Virology. It was said to be the closest known relative to Sars-Cov-2 with more than 96% genetic similarity. This was highly significant since it underlined that such diseases occur in nature, yet although closely related, would have taken decades to evolve in the wild and seemed too distant to be manipulated in a laboratory.

Some experts were immediately suspicious over the lack of information on this new strain. The reason soon became clear: its name had been changed from another virus identified in a previous paper but — unusually for such a publication — this was not cited in Nature. This masked a link to three miners who had died from a strange respiratory disease while clearing out bat droppings in a cave in south China, which was hundreds of miles from Wuhan but used by Shi and her colleagues to collect samples from bats. The Wuhan researchers even admitted they had eight more undisclosed Sars-like viruses from the mine. But despite a barrage of complaints that began within weeks of publication, it took Nature 10 months to publish her addendum, which only raised more questions that remain unanswered to this day.

Nature Medicine, its sister publication, was also home for the second key commentary that set the tone in the scientific community after Daszak’s outing in The Lancet. The proximal origin of Sars-CoV-2″ bluntly concluded that “we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible”. Critics pointed out it was questionable to claim there was any “evidence” proving that Sars-CoV-2 is not a purposefully manipulated virus. Others noted that the statement mentions the mysterious furin cleavage site — which Nikolai Petrovksy drew attention to as allowing the spike protein to bind effectively to cells in human tissues yet which is not found in the most closely-related coronaviruses — but downplays its potential significance. The statement suggests “it is likely that Sars-CoV-2-like viruses with partial or full polybasic cleavage sites will be discovered in other species”. This has not happened so far.

This document — whose five signatories include one expert who was handed China’s top award for foreign scientists after nearly 20 years work there, and another who is a “guest professor” for the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention — has been accessed 5.4 million times and cited almost 1,500 times in other papers. It is so influential that when I emailed Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and one of The Lancet signatories, to see if his stance remained the same, he pointed me to this paper that he called “the most important research on the genomic epidemiology of the origins of this virus”.

The lead author was Kristian Andersen, an immunologist at Scripps Research Institute in California who has been a very active voice on social media condemning the lab leak theory and confronting its proponents. Yet the recent release of emails to Anthony Fauci exposed that Andersen had previously admitted to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director that the virus had unusual features that “(potentially) look engineered” and which are “inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory”. He claimed last week the discussion was “clear example of the scientific process” but as another top scientist said to me: “What a smoking gun!”. Now Anderson’s twitter account has suddenly disappeared.

There are many more examples. For instance, China pointed the finger at animals sold at the Huanan Seafood Market two days after admitting there was human transmission of the virus. Within weeks, four manuscripts describing a pangolin virus with a similar spike receptor-binding domain to Sars-Cov-2 were submitted to journals, all relying heavily on data published by one group of Chinese scientists the previous year. Two of these papers on pangolin coronaviruses were run by Nature. Inevitably, the articles sparked intense global discussion over whether pangolins sold at the market were the missing zoonotic link between bats and human beings, similar to civet cats with the first Sars epidemic.

The pangolin link was a false trail laid from China. Nature, however, rejected a submission from another key scientific dissident that showed how all four papers primarily used samples from the same batch of pangolins and that key data was inaccurately reported in two of these papers. Richard Ebright, a bio-security expert and professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University, argues that such tolerance of “material omissions and material misstatements” expose a massive issue. “Nature and The Lancet played important roles in enabling, encouraging, and enforcing the false narrative that science evidence indicates Sars-CoV-2 had a natural-spillover origin points and the false narrative that this was the scientific consensus”.

Or as another well-placed observer put it: “The game seems to be for Nature and The Lancet to rush non-peer revised correspondences to set the tone and then delay critical papers and responses.”

But why would they do this? This is where things become even murkier. Allegations swirl that it was not down to editorial misjudgement, but something more sinister: a desire to appease China for commercial reasons. The Financial Times revealed four years ago that debt-laden Springer Nature, the German group that publishes Nature, was blocking access in China to hundreds of academic articles mentioning subjects deemed sensitive by Beijing such as Hong Kong, Taiwan or Tibet. China is also spending lavishly around the world to win supremacy in science — which includes becoming the biggest national sponsor of open access journals published by both Springer Nature and Elsevier, owner of The Lancet.

One source estimated that 49 sponsorship agreements between Springer Nature and Chinese institutions were worth at least $10m last year. These deals cover the publishing fees authors would normally pay in such journals, so they smooth the path for Chinese authors while creating a dependency culture. They have worked well for both sides: they offer the publishers access to the surging Chinese market and its well-resourced universities, while offering international recognition and status in return. But we know President Xi Jinping demands compliance with his world view, even from foreign-owned companies — and especially on an issue as sensitive as his nation’s possible role in unleashing a global catastrophe.

Critics fear these corporate links to China compromise output and distort agendas. “Scientific publishing has become a highly politicised business,” argues Petrovksy. “Clearly there needs to be an international investigation launched into the role of scientific publishers, their increasingly powerful influence as the major publishing houses buy out many of the smaller independent journals, together with their growing politicisation and susceptibility to overt influence. We need to examine what impact this may have had in the pandemic and what impact it could have on science in the future.”

Certainly it is valid to ask where was the real conspiracy in this tawdry saga that has stained so many reputations?


Ian Birrell is an award-winning foreign reporter and columnist. He is also the founder, with Damon Albarn, of Africa Express.

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Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
3 years ago

Dependence on Chinese money probably did heavily influence these journals decisions but still, the elephant in the room, as always, is the Presidency of Donald Trump.

What would have happened if prior to the 2020 election, it had been revealed that the likely, or even the most likely source of the outbreak had been a Chinese laboratory? It would have changed the narrative from one of domestic mismanagement of the pandemic, to one of fighting against the results of Beijing’s deceit and incompetence. It would have been held up as proof that Trump’s antagonism to China had been vindicated and would potentially have changed the course of the election.

I was never a great fan of Trump. He was crude and unqualified for the role of President, and though more often than not right about the political issues of the day, he was a better campaigner than an actual leader.

I do not think however, it is overly conspiratorial to say, that an extremely significant proportion of the US established colluded to bring him down: from the bias of liberal news networks, to the censorship on social media by the tech giants, to the intelligence agencies, which gladly perpetuated wild conspiracy theories about Russia collusion and finally to academia, who suppressed and distorted the science, I suspect, to prevent Trump from gaining any political advantage from this crisis. Hardly an institution did not compromise their supposed principles, in attacking his administration.

Just like the lockdowns used to combat the virus, we will find out in the coming years, whether the loss of impartiality and trust in these institutions; will prove that the cure, was worse than the disease.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

You have a point (except for the intelligence agencies: Some degree of Russian collusion sounds more likely than not, and anyway Trump himself publicly solicited their help with those Hilary emails). But what goes around, comes around. Desperate opposition is just part of the Trump business model. If your main method is to horrify the libs, promote conflict and conspiracy theories, and tell shameless and incendiary lies when it suits you, you cannot expect the opposition to be all neutral and respectful of the truth you are spitting on and the rules of coexistence you are trampling. Blaming the virus on Beijing is exactly the kind of provocative lie Trump would tell; it is obvious that this makes his enemies slow to believe it and reluctant to promote it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

But his enemies were not just “slow to believe it and reluctant to promote it”. They were actively trying to stop me from reading and hearing about it. I do not care what squalid nonsense passes for political discourse in the US, but I’ll be d* mned if I have to put up with it.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Indeed. They were trying to stop a dangerous and wrong idea from spreading, as they saw it. Just like they tried to repress the ideas that COVID did not exist, or was not dangerous, or it was all a plot by Bill Gates, or it could be easily cured by injecting bleach or taking hydroxychloroquinone. I agree that this is a very worrying story, for the reasons given in the article. But it does not make sense to complain that the establishment ‘colluded to bring [Trump] down’. People were fighting Trump, stepping over the line but all along showing more restraint and respect for the truth than Trump did himself. Trump made his own bed; he should not complain if it is lumpy.

mssr6vj4hk
mssr6vj4hk
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Simply repeating lies the corrupt US media spread about Trump, all widely debunked, without qualifying them as such makes you look ridiculous.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  mssr6vj4hk

I have not been very specific about Trump, here. If you say what lies, specifically, I have said, I would learn more about what you think s true.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Al M
Al M
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

However peculiar some of his comments, I don’t recall Trump actually advocating the injecting of bleach as a way to ‘easily cure’ COVID, as you put it.

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

They were trying to stop a dangerous and wrong idea from spreading, as they saw it…”
That’s what you want to believe, obviously. But what makes you so confident of their actual motivations?
It seems just as likely they were trying to stop the truth from spreading, because it was dangerous to their agenda.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago

It looks like some of them were – Danzak for one, on the lab leak. There is clear and specific evidence for that. I would say that there has been a lot of claims in the general area of COVID that a lot of people would see, quite sincerely as dangerous and unfounded. Unless you have similar clear and specific evidence that these claims were true and people had a specific interest in suppressing them, I would not be convinced that the pushback against those ideas was in bad faith.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I once watched a nature show where baby chimpanzees were taken outside their compound by their human carers. Another human, dressed as a gorilla, danced around them and terrified the baby chimpanzees so much that they never dared leave the compound ever again. Basically, this is what the media has done with Trump. They’ve vilified him so much that people are too scared to even contemplate that he might have been on to something and will therefore continue to make excuses on behalf of those who lied to them about him, believing that their ‘carers’ had only their best interests at heart.

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
3 years ago

of course that was the reason

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

‘Blaming the virus on Beijing is exactly the kind of provocative lie Trump would tell’

These things don’t happen in a Trumpian vacuum.

You’re obviously not alone in this, but you seem to be suggesting that purely on the basis that one man, Trump, says something that its veracity can be entirely and forever discounted on that basis alone.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that Australia in April/May 2020 last year also sought to chase this down, albeit more subtly, demanding that the WHO-led inquiry into the origins of the virus should be more robust.

Presumably on the basis that it could see a whitewash coming down the tracks.

Its calls were supported by 122 countries and invited very swift, real and the threat of more severe economic sanctions from China.

Surely, if China had had nothing to hide, why would this have been the case might you surmise?

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Oh, I was convinced by the article on Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Before that I thought the chance of a lab origin was maybe 7% or so, small but not negligible. After that article I upped my estimate to 60%. Having seen some counterarguments on this site I have now brought it down to 30%, but on the other hand China’s behaviour have brought their credibility down to zero no matter what exactly happened here.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

So now based solely on the recent arguments posited on Unherd you’ve halved your estimate on the chances of a Chinese lab leak to 30%?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

The numbers are wobbling a bit higher now, but yes. Elaine Giedrys-Leeper pointed me to a couple of published articles that said that the protein cleavage site in the COVID virus was found sporadically in a number of distantly related virus familes (just not in the closest one), and that the two arginine codons that were supposedly proof of human origin had about an 8% probability of appearing by chance. Since that weakens the two strongest arguments that COVID could not have appeared by chance, I reduced my estimate of the likelihood of a lab origin.
Of course the precise numbers are faff. I have no way of making proper probability calculations, but it is a handy way of explaining roughly how much I believe in something.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You would make a very poor detective, Mr Fogh.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Because I did not trigger on lab leaks straight away? Considering that

  • the first we heard about was the wet market,
  • there was no solid evidence either way,
  • I was not trawling the internet to look for alternative explanations,
  • Believing a lab leak would have the most drastic consequences and therefore (extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence) would not be the default assumption.

I do not think I did too badly.
If you generally believe mainstream opinion until proof of the contrary you are likely to be right a lot more often than if you automatically disbelieve it.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

There were 2 lab leaks of smallpox in the UK, fairly recently , leading to one death . Lab security is important. Last year there were several references to US concerns about security in the Wuhan lab after visits in 2018. The Sunday Times and the Daily Mail both ran numerous stories last year based on real scientists and good research about the 2012 miners deaths in Yunnan from bats, and samples taken to Wuhan for further research. Peter Laszeks connection to the work in Wuhan was well known. Then you have the absurd reason for refusal of Nature to publish the Dalgleish paper, that they were far too busy fighting the pandemics to bother. Mainstream scientific opinion was looking pretty holey from the start. What was monolithic was the scientific journals and the US media. Either people did not want to think for thenselves, or they were afraid to do so. It is not unknown for lone scientists to battle against the scientific establishment and be proved right : prions and bacteria causing ulcers, anyone?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

I agree with all your facts. There are a lot or problems here, and the flat denial of a possible lab origin was always ridiculous. But to be fair, the right answer is still not obvious. We have basically three possibilities here: ‘natural’ epidemic grown in the wild, lab origin through accidentally contaminated guano miners or contaminated virus cultures, or deliberate gain-of-function research. Nobody (outside of China, at least) have enough data to point clearly to one of them. Maybe many people wanted to think for themselves and were not afraid to do so, but did not see the point in jumping to any particular conclusion at an early stage.

It is extremely common for lone scientists to battle against the scientific establishment, and when they are right they are invaluable. You should still not forget that the vast majority of them turn out to be wrong.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Flaw – in this case, it’s not lone scientists ‘battling’. There’s plenty. And you seem blissfully unconcerned by political/financial control of science debate – why, it’s almost as though you think that scientific consensus is formed by careful, rational, dispassionate analysis of the facts – only!

Last edited 3 years ago by Mangle Tangle
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

The smallpox escape was 1978

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago

I guess “recently” is a matter of opinion.

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

“There were 2 lab leaks of smallpox in the UK, fairly recently…”
Really?
I thought the only two labs in the world that still have the smallpox virus are in the US (the CDC in Atlanta) and in Russia.
Thanks for giving me yet another reason not to sleep well at night.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The extraordinary claim wasn’t that COVID came from a lab. It was the claim that it didn’t.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

We mean different things here. You say that the lab origin was the most likely, on the evidence? Maybe, depending on your judgement and what time you are talking about. But if this was a naturally occurring pandemic all we would need to do is fight the virus. If we decided that it came from a Chinese lab, we would also need to fight with China, at the same time. I’d say that you need more evidence to opt for the choice with more serious consequences.

None of which changes the fact that a lab origin was always at least a reasonable possibility, and people were wrong to deny it.

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

So because it’s hard we stick our heads in the sand?
You sound like a person who drops his keys in the unlit side of the road and crosses to search under the streetlights.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Rather like a person who has lost his keys, does not know where they are, and starts looking on the sideboard or the bathroom floor rather than taking up all the sewer grilles first.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No you’re not.

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I disagree. If you generally believe mainstream opinion you will be able to hide in the crowd in the event it is found to be wrong. Whether you are right more often or not is a much stickier question.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Clear as Fogh.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

He also seems to think Trump was being serious when he openly asked Russia’s help in finding the missing emails.. Russiagate was something created by a number of government agencies just in case Trump got in. This was ludicrously spun out over the years to also include Ukraine-which as we now know Biden father & son were really involved. Mueller took as long as he could over the ‘investigations’ but even he had to admit there was no evidence of collusion.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

I take it you don’t think Trump was being serious when he openly asked Russia’s help in finding the missing emails. Why not?

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

I understand you dislike Trump; he’s not a very likeable person.
But give him credit for not being brain dead.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

He requested materials of obvious benefit to his campaign. No, I don’t think he’s brain dead.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Perkins
kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

When people say they would ‘die for an ice-cream’ they don’t mean it literally. Trump often makes jokes ie Hillary had a fundraiser with Beyonce etc ( at which Hillary looked rather uncomfortable) Trump said at his next rally-you’ve only got me , I haven’t even got a piano-the audience laughed at the joke.New Yorkers are supposed to be quick-witted aren’t they-he couldn’t resist making the email joke.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

People saying they’d die for an ice-cream very obviously don’t mean it. Trump very obviously would have liked more of Clinton’s emails to be leaked.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

So when he said that Hilary should be locked up, or that the election was stolen, was that also a joke? How can you tell?

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

This is just my opinion but I think Trump had a ‘I wish to give back to society ‘ moment in his life when he decided to run for President-there seems a strain of Scottish presbyterianism in his character, so yes I do think he meant those two things. The Clintons have some questionable financial dealings & the election results were not clear-cut to say the least , were they?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Whitewater,,rafting?.. ”I did NOT have sex with that woman (monika Lewinsky)?….

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

He did know them socially-they came to his last wedding. Ivanka & Chelsea used to be close friends, so you would think he would know where the bodies are buried. He was also onto Epstein by 2005 & helped set up first arrest.What a shame he was late allowed to accidently commit suicide He had been a teacher at school run by William Barr’s father. The arrest warrent for Epstein in NY was arranged by James Comey’s daughter With the Clintons always someone else dies ( about 60 so far isn’t it?) or goes to prison.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Yep Also interestingly,he Warned Prince Andrew to avoid, Jeffrey Epstein!

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

Sarah Ferguson borrowed money from Epstein-put her under an obligation & apparently Meghan knew Princess Eugenie before she met Harry ( so obviously knew all about him- I wonder how long his ‘problems’ have been common knowledge?).. Strange ‘spare’ of one generation , linked with ‘spare’ of the next-two selfish , spoilt men who don’t like not being first.Prince Andrew knew Maxwell from university-so surely he knew the family was left-wing , so whats he doing mixing with that crowd? And here’s Harry mixing with a democrat , anti-royal Hollywood crowd.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

And Bleach, ABC,CBS,NBC,CNN took him literally,he was toying…they are thick authoritarians & Less people watch mSM the world over…

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

This is all a bit moot now since the Chinese have refused to countenance a Phase 2 WHO investigation and will undoubtedly pull the shutters down on many other collaborative projects dealing with zoonotic spillovers and the like. Unintended consequences.
So, Western scientists will have to make do with Thai and Cambodian bats for now.

It took 14 years to find the animal reservoirs and spillover route of SARS1

Incidentally, the Chinese authorities closed down all the wild animal farms on Feb 24 “for public health reasons” – supposedly 14 million people employed in this business worth $70 billion / year. Remember the Chinese had to do a huge pig cull in 2019 – they were short of animal protein going in to 2020.

Has anyone here read the WHO report from soup to nuts ? I haven’t…yet but I have listened to some of the scientists who went to Wuhan and their perceptions of what went on there.
The clamming up of the Chinese from a Western perspective almost inevitably = guilt
Clamming up from a Chinese perspective = Not Losing Face and not fuelling conspiracy theories.
Viewable at This Week in Virology # 760.

Chris Williams
Chris Williams
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

“…..but you seem to be suggesting that purely on the basis that one man, Trump, says something that its veracity can be entirely and forever discounted on that basis alone.”
Similarly, with hydroxychloroquine & zinc for early COVID treatment (and prophylaxis). Trump having mentioned it, the MSM took the opportunity to rubbish, rubbish and rubbish it – no matter that it was, and is, absolutely effective with ample evidence if one cared to look.
It was brought to Trump’s attention by a hero of a true family physician (and scientist) Dr Vlad Zelenko (https://www.bitchute.com/video/aAdRRp4mUw3C/ is revealing, if you don’t mind coping with Del Bigtree as interviewer).
Dr Zelenko was one of the early physician adopters.  Similarly in the US, Dr Simone Gold’s ‘America’s Front-Line Doctors’ group also refused to be cowed and successfully used and are using the treatment, as well as now using Ivermectin.
The potential of Ivermectin was belatedly recognised in ‘advanced economies’ and adopted in mid 2020 by Dr Pierre Kory who formed the front-line clinicians group ‘FLCCC Alliance’ (https://covid19criticalcare.com).
Ivermectin has been shown to be effective at all stages of disease – and also for prophylaxis. It was brought to prominence in the UK at the beginning of this year by Dr Tess Lawrie, Director of The Evidence Based Medicine Consultancy Ltd who carried out a meta-analysis of all studies and trials of Ivermectin and pronounced it to be both safe and highly effective. Then, in February this year, the BIRD group of clinicians and scientists, which includes Dr Lawrie, published its Ivermectin protocol (https://bird-group.org/the-bird-recommendation-on-the-use-of-ivermectin-for-covid-19/) – but to no avail here in the UK.
Yet notwithstanding what the MSM would have us all believe, the drug has been used very successfully for some time by several states in India, and in several S. American countries, amongst others.
And then, of course, right at the start of the pandemic, in March last year, the facts of natural human immunity, its absolute dependence on Vitamin D and the UK’s ‘Vitamin D deficiency pandemic’ were brought to the attention of SAGE (the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) by several eminent UK front-line physicians.
A public health initiative to eliminate Vitamin D deficiency in the population would have brought the ‘pandemic’ to a halt very quickly and cheaply – as shown by studies of SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility v. serum Vitamin D (25(OH)D) level. Similarly, in August/September last year, treatment of severely ill COVID-19 pneumonia patients using the low cost vitamin-D metabolite calcifediol (softgel capsules), was shown to be highly effective in several trials by clinicians in Spain. (Oral calcifediol provides the immune system with necessary levels of serum Vitamin D to fight infection within a few hours)
But notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence of these cheap and effective COVID-19 preventatives/treatment – Vitamin D, Calcifediol, Hydroxychloroquine & zinc, Ivermectin – all have been, and continues to be, ignored by SAGE and UK government ministers, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands in the UK.
There is, of course, much, much more around the whole ‘pandemic’ story than these wilfully ignored cheap and effective treatments. But the interim conclusions can only be:
(1) SAGE is at best NEGLIGENTLY IGNORANT and at worst CRIMINAL; and
(2) The UK government has no interest in saving lives – their only interest appears to be to get everyone injected with an experimental and of questionable efficacy, gene-therapy treatment masquerading as a traditional vaccine.
WHY ?????

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

By publicly soliciting Russian help to read Hilary’s emails, you must mean his little joke to the effect that 30000 of Hilary’s emails had gone missing, and if the Russians had them, they should let the US read them. Noone but a Democrat would take this as a request for Russian help.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

And it was a clear sign of media collusion that seasoned Democrat politicians were allowed to come on TV and go all ‘wide eyed innocent’-but Trump said! Unfortunately people under age of 50 seem to have been born without the irony gene-they take everything literally-and actually believed this rubbish. It would be like a thief taking out an ad saying ‘Hello I stole some valuable jewellery , which I have now mislayed, if you think you know where I left it call this number’

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Your post might be more convincing if you did not represent Trump’s sarcastic suggestion that the Russians release Hilary’s emails as evidence of collusion. If you are trying to show how it is Trump’s fault that his enemies lie and deceive, best not start right off with unprovoked deception.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  Gerry Quinn

We are not going to agree on this, but I think you guys are making it a little too easy for yourself. Trump has said all kinds of wild stuff – from the number of spectators at his inauguration to the bleach injections to the stolen election – and those who like and trust him all decide – on no external evidence that I can see – that the things they personally believe in were meant seriously and the things they think are ridiculous were meant as jokes. Those who neither like nor trust him thinks he is the kind of crazy SOB who might well mean all of it – which is surely part of the impression he wants to make. Personally I do not think he knows or cares. If something makes him feel good, makes his fans feel good, and horrifies his enemies he will say it, without caring about truth or consequences. Which makes him an extremely dangerous man to put in a position of power. I might be wrong, but since Trump himself has done so much to create that impression, I really do not think he can complain about the consequences.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

well put sir

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

A fine summary.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Agreed.

This level of collusion, particularly in the US, regarding the suppression of the China lab link suggested earlier by Trump also lends some credence to the idea that the announcement of the first covid vaccine from US pharma giant Pfizer a few days after not before the US Presidential elections in November last year might not have been a happy accident either.

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Was former President Trump any ‘cruder or unqualified’ than former President Bush Jnr?

I think not, and at least Mr Trump did not lie his way into a totally uncalled for, and utterly despicable war in Iraq, unlike the wretched Bush.*

Iraq, like a putrefying Albatross, will hang around the neck of both Bush & the US for decades to come, whilst Mr Trump’s legacy will rightly, be far more benign.

(* Aided & abetted by the loathsome Blair creature, plus 88% of contemporary Tory MP’s & 60% of Labour MP’s to our eternal shame, it must be said.)

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

You write as if the war on Iraq was the exception to an otherwise benign series of US military interventions.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

I’m so sorry that wasn’t my intention.

However the blatantly belligerent run up to that war, and our disgraceful participation in it, rather caught my attention.

One extraordinary feature was all that nonsense about WMD. Cynic that I am I was convinced that a container of WMD would be found somewhere under the sand, having been conveniently‘ planted’ there.

In this day and age, fortunately, such behaviour is no longer possible and ‘we’ went to war on a barefaced lie instead. Posterity will/is revelling in it, and so it should.

It is all very reminiscent of the blowing up of the Battleship USS Maine* more than a century ago, or even the notorious’Day of Infamy’ in 1941, to say nothing of 9/11.

(* Off Havana in 1898.)

Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

The original useful idiots were so precisely because they actually believed that Soviet Russia was an example to be celebrated. What makes this lot worse and more dangerous is that they know China is not to be trusted, but scientists and editors of important journals just like the rest of us appreciate what money buys. So what’s a pandemic, a few expendable Uighurs and global pollution compared to club class travel, a nice motor and a holiday in the Maldives?

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Baseley

There is little evidence of Beijing money. It was the US who withdrew from the WHO, as the major contributor. This guy, Birrell, is full on mainstream media by the way. Multiple awards testify to that. So If you dislike the MSM, look elsewhere.

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Agree with much of this, but the real issue is not that they conspired to bring him down, but WHY they did that, with such ruthlessness, and the answer is not that he wasn’t their cup of tea, the answer has more to do with the fact that he, perhaps for the first time since Kennedy, challenged the authority of these institutions and those who operate beyond government to control so much now of the media, MID, and intelligence agencies.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago

Powerful stuff. It goes to show how quickly reputations can be lost – and for what – just a bit of money that you didn’t even need?
Perhaps I am over reacting but I am coming to the view that the Chines Communist Party corrupts everything and everybody that it touches.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Well we have known that about the CCP for some years now.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

You are right, but there is a difference between merely knowing it, and having it “rubbed in your face knowing it” If you get my drift.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Devil’s advocate-what if this lab was financed & run by a selective interest group in the West, who have their own reasons for releasing covid ? Granted it sounds like CCP but as they need a commercial economy to keep their own people happy why would they take such a risk? They have bought up most of the world with their belt & road scheme-eventually they will own everything anyway , so why the hurry now? Trump could only have been president for another four years & then they would get their democrat puppet in power..

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

The west is gearing up for war with China, with this type of MSM propaganda. Interesting that the kind of people who discount RussiaGate are fully convinced that they are getting the truth about China.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

As the Roman Vegetius* told us sometime ago:
“Si vis pacem, para bellum “- if you wish for peace prepare for war.

(* late fourth century.)

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago

I am sure he did, on the other hand Rome was always at war, a bit like the modern West, so that might well have been subterfuge. Anyway Rome collapsed soon after, maybe they should have been concerned about peace.
China is on the other side of the world, it is no threat to Europe or the US, it is a threat to US hegemony which is why the US has moved onto China, after antagonising the Russians, and destroying the Middle East. That will not work out so good.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Have you never heard of the ‘Pax Romana’? Most of those ‘wars’ were comparatively minor affairs on the fringes of the Empire.

Although you are correct in saying the Western Roman Empire collapsed by the late fifth century, the Eastern Empire lived on for another thousand years*

As to China, it is a clear and present danger. Despite their abysmal history they think it’s ‘their turn’, it isn’t and they may just have to be destroyed.

A Trident D-2 missile has a range of over 7,000 nautical miles, so being ‘on the other side of the world’ as you prosaically put it won’t save them.

There are currently 102 Chinese target cities, each with a population in excess of a million. Each of the 14 Ohio class submarines carries 24 missiles, so just do the maths.

(* Fairly feeble and chaotic it must be said post 1204.)
(**but of course a ‘Princess’ such as Peter Branagan Esq is completely incapable of understanding such a simple concept.

Last edited 3 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
3 years ago

‘Mr’ Stanhope, this is the second time you’ve expressed such vile thoughts on UnHerd. It is a disgrace that unHerd hasn’t removed you from you from the comments forum.

Your comment is the clearest possible example of incitement to hatred.

You make the leader of the National Socialists of Germany in the mid 20th century seem benign in comparison.

You are a vile monster that has relinquished your right to be treated as a normal human being. Crawl into the nearest sewer and stay there where you belong.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago

Thats what I wondered too. Looks like all pantomine in parliament autumn 2019 ( Bercow & friends who have now disappeared ) was designed to get Conservative party large majority. Once in they seem less interested in Brexit than May & are very keen on agendas that completely contradict what brexit supporters wanted ie more immigrantion, more green policies. Are we being ‘led by the nose’ on this lab issue?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

I pointed this out In my attempt at being an MP, hustings dismissed my Observation,Boris flipped a coin ,came down leave,Some Brexit Party supporters voted for me, Thereson Mays ”Surrender,remain treaty” is endorsed by Boris & his chumocracy, betraying the Union, & UK Fishermen!!

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Why such a complicated and roundabout variation on a simple error?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Half the Money for wuhan,Came from EU, Michel Barnier ,being ”The bag carrier” that is NOT highlighted in anY BBC,iTV,ch4 News Media

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

And from Australia. The last election also killed off the Brexit party & nothing else major has emerged.Whatever it is has been supported by every politician since Major ( wonder if that reason had let Thatcher go?) to now & most EU lot. Suppose there were a cabal of people , financed by billionaires, who want to bring about great change.? It is said some of them want the whole pop world down to 1/2 million , a new feudalism , a green world etc They have literally got us all arrested ,lockdown & can do what they wanted? Letting people come to Europe from China early 2021 (when it turns out they knew about this lab) , Trump closed border but was only one, the democrats were very much against it .

David Fitzsimons
David Fitzsimons
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I won’t be able to reply to comments soon…
I like many of your comments… but, your continued claim to have known everything for some years is no longer necessary (everybody knows you knew everything).

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago

Fraiser has always been at war with EastAsia.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Good By Frasier, I know everything too, but often we disagree, so maybe you just know a lot.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

Likewise…I just wanted to say goodbye to Fraser, Sanford, Kathleen and all the other regulars. It’s been fun, and I view most of you as kindred spirits.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Throughout history, there have been organisations which profess ideals, to which are drawn a minority of true believers, but a majority of the ambitious, ruthless or unscrupulous. They seek comfort, power, or both. It is human nature.
We have found ways of tempering this, but the CCP is surely the most extreme example ever.

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago

Again kudos to Mr. Birrell and his fellow journalists for so doggedly pursuing this labyrinthine story. Happily, there are still some principled journos left in the world. If they are very, very lucky, a smoking-gun email or document will emerge from within Springer Nature or Elsevier revealing collusion between the editorial staff and the Chinese government or other interested parties.
The damage may, however, be done. There are so many versions of this story, and so many competing experts, that the waters are thoroughly muddied. I’m not sure a definitive answer to the question of covid 19’s origin will ever be found.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Any conclusive evidence would have been burnt a long time ago.
The good news however is the resurgence of scepticism when considering received wisdom. Let us not be too polite to ask “Who is paying you?”

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Yep, always, always follow the money on everything and always, always ask who has the most to gain (or lose) from something even if it runs contrary to your own allegiances or what seems, on the face of it, to be logic or commonsense.

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

In the end the only way to have known the truth is if China had been prepared to accept a full and scientific forensic examination of the events. That was never going to happen. I think we’ll only ever really know if the Chinese government collapses one day, as with the files that revealed the cover-up of the Holodomor in Ukraine in the 30s after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Hilary LW
Hilary LW
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“This labyrinthine story” with “so many versions” has been obscured by lies, cover-ups, disinformation, and yes conspiracies on the international level, right from the start. The effect produced is confusion and fear among the populace, making us vulnerable to all kinds of psychological control.

The virus origin narrative seems to be shifting in favour of a far more plausible lab leak hypothesis. But if there is substance to that, it inevitably means that scientists and politicians colluded in lying and deception. So why should we trust scientists and politicians when they collude in any other narrative? Whether it’s the need to control public perception of the origins of a virus, or the necessity for certain unprecedented strategies to contain it, including ruinous lockdown of society and the imposition of a world-wide genetic medical experiment, with no dissenting opinions allowed? It would seem absurd to accept the probability that deception and fraud was being practised at the start of the Covid event, yet still trust that those same people are telling us the truth about everything that’s happened since.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary LW

Totally agree! The scientists collude & lie about science for money and allegiances , the whole world is put on hold, the politicians put in dastardly plans based on unsustainable policies like lockdown, then some scientists go into cures for this artificially induced pandemic in a space of under a year & the whole world is psychologically terrified & bullied into taking these ‘vaccines’ ‘for their own good’ and ‘protect others’. So now WE the gormless public are now the ones that is being shamed for 
..WHAT?
It’s a high crime against humanity !!! Not to mention lives destroyed and people who died (& as a casualty) because of this shameful & despicable drama .
It all goes back to the HUBRIS of the scientists ( and the politicians) who have lost all credibility and blotted the pure discipline of science.
I have decided not to poison my self on principle but the pressure on me is so intense and unfair that it makes me shake with emotion.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Well said Bryant, this man is an excellent, and Real, journalist. To better fit in here though, he needs to also tell us stories of his socially confusing University days and how challenging masculinity was wile living the androgynous punk scene, stoned on coke.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Anyone who follows these things have known for over a year that the virus probably escaped from a lab, if only because the authorities and MSM were denying it. If the authorities are denying something, you know it must be true.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Well quite. A variation of the old Bomber Command adage that if the flak is heavy then you are over the target.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Hurrah for 78 Squadron!

Thanks for your reply Princess*. It seems we can circumvent the ban on non members commenting, at least on ‘The Post’.

I was taught never to mock the afflicted, however in your case Princess, I shall make an exception.

You only demean yourself by your vulgarity and thus invalidate what you wish to say.

You must try to be subtle and polite if you are not to be taken for the blatantly obvious CCP stooge that you are. Do you not agree?

(* Peter Branagan.)

Last edited 3 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
3 years ago

Stay in the sewer Stanhope.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Too true, SARS2 , Indian variants & Lockdown permanence,favoured especially by ”Climate Warriors”

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

Despicable behaviour from the scientific establishment, the politicians and the media. There need to be trials and genuine repercussions.

Of course, there won’t be.

Stan Konwiser
Stan Konwiser
3 years ago

Now let’s apply the same intellectual skepticism to the ‘settled science’ of climate change. Ask the same question of each expert demanding obedience to their solutions: ‘who is paying you?’

Why are dissenting opinions being suppressed?

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Stan Konwiser

Well of course those kind generous billionaires don’t want anything for their contributions-they are completely disinterested in how institutions use the money-says nobody.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Which means scientists ( if you include medical people) will go along with whoever is paying. There are surgeons willing to lop off bits healthy teenagers & give them barely adequate substitutes.The climate change people seriously expect people to believe sinking metal windmills in concrete will keep a country in sufficient electricity . So why not scientists ( and quite a few social scientists ) willing to sign letters stating that covid came from bats.? The vaccine people are immune from prosecution if anything goes wrong.Yet people are arrested & jailed for accidently breaking some rules ie Nicolas Block who owns books easily available , but as the judge doesn’t like his face, to jail he must go. Funny old world isn’t it?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

or Englands Newly capped,Fast bowler(oliie Robinson)) Condemned for A ”Racist”tweet 9 years ago..michael Carberry One mediocre cricketer,tried to sue Leicestershire,for replacing Him as Captain,.he Also Posted sexist tweets…ch4 &Sky news omitted that..Wants Robinson banned for life,what a bitter hypocrite….

Last edited 3 years ago by Robin Lambert
kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

Man who flew white lives matter banner-what specifically & legally is wrong with that? How can that be threatening , to whom? Why is everyone so concerned with death George Floyd & BLM suddenly this last year.? It is all so convenient isn’t it , even Harry & Meghan are in on it trying to destroy royal family. All seems very rushed as though everything must happen in the next few years.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Stan Konwiser

Humble Oil, a precursor of ExxonMobil, was a pioneer of climate change research in the 1950s. They chose to suppress it.

James Pelton
James Pelton
3 years ago
Reply to  Stan Konwiser

Great idea. This is perhaps the greatest hoax in history. Journalists are sycophantic morons who get their “information” from the sewers that are social media. That people believe it at all is something that should make us worry about teachers’ unions.

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
3 years ago
Reply to  Stan Konwiser

exactly

Max Beran
Max Beran
3 years ago
Reply to  Stan Konwiser

It would be nice but there is one glaring problem with coupling the two issues simply on the grounds that both experienced silencing of dissenting voices. Both may be reduced to man v. nature issues, but who has been silenced and who has done the silencing are on opposite sides of the fence.
With the lab v life coronavirus issue it is those claiming it’s nature “wot done it” are doing the silencing and those that say it’s down to the hands of man that have been silenced. The converse is the case with global warming etc. There it’s those sure that it’s man at the root of the problem that are doing the silencing and those giving the major role to nature being silenced.
So the outcome of laying the blame for lab escape (and hence the hand of man) will likely bolster the faith of those believing in man’s responsibility for climate catastrophe.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
3 years ago

‘Lab leak denialism’ is a thing now. The ‘lab leak deniers’ need to be exposed.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

Some nutters on the internet apparently believe in a crazy conspiracy theory that it happened naturally and had nothing to do with the lab. Of course the social media platforms will soon be clamping down on that sort of misinformation.

George Glashan
George Glashan
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  George Glashan

My thoughts exactly… Trump says it and is denounced as a n*z*, Biden says it and it’s now a valid viewpoint.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Already have,My fb pals in Anthropologic Climate Change sceptics &myself regularly face Suspension or White Card effect on Anything about SARS2 origins or the fact Seas haven’t warmed since 1998 etc..bye folks these are liable to be my last Posts…

Last edited 3 years ago by Robin Lambert
Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

Bye robin, feels like the end of an era

Joerg Beringer
Joerg Beringer
3 years ago

The scientific journals have even more blood on their hands with regard to HCQ, Ivermectin&co.
And why really it is all of a sudden allowed to discuss the lab leak theory is well explained today in the OffGuardian and/by looking at CJ Hopkins tweets.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Joerg Beringer

Who would stand to gain by finding HCQ and Ivermectin ineffective, while promoting the equally cheap and off-patent dexamethasone?

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Who was promoting dexamethasone?
All the scientific establishment ever seemed to be promoting was useless lockdowns, useless masks, useless “social distancing”, and the vaccine.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

It was found to be quite effective in reducing mortality in serious cases.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago

All those people working in ICUs – it works best if given at a certain time in the progression of the disease – it isn’t like Aspirin

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

Dexamethasone is late stage treatment. Completely different to HCL and IVM. Most early stage treatment now is to go home and wait till your blood oxygen levels drop till below about 90, then call your doctor again. Pity you need an oximeter to measure this, which is why so many people have reached hospitals too late.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

If memory serves, dexamethasone as a treatment for Covid was introduced by Prof Paul Marik of the FLCCC, the same organisation that later introduced Ivermectin as a treatment. The organisation was set up to find ways to treat Covid overall.
Regardless of who introduced it, the significant difference is that dexamethasone is used in a c0ck tail of drugs to treat later stage Covid. It is not a silver bullet therapeutic like Ivermectin which is used as a prophylactic and early stage drug, along with later stage treatment. In order to secure emergency use of a vaccine, there may not be an effective therapeutic available. This will tell you why there is a concerted effort to smear it. There are many billions of dollars at stake.

Last edited 3 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
William Harvey
William Harvey
3 years ago

How many months before the “science” of useless face masks shifts to the opposite. I remember reading Karl Heneghan over a year ago saying all the studies show they have no affect on airborne respiratory viruses.

And on that topic… look how long it too to drag the WHO kicking and screaming into admitting the virus is airborne in indescribably small vaporised particles.
How many died due to their intransigence in poorly ventilated aged care homes.???

..All for Chinese money too… shame on them

Last edited 3 years ago by William Harvey
Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
3 years ago
Reply to  William Harvey

The W.H.O. – bought and paid for.

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
3 years ago

Suppressing scientific evidence to advance a political objective is nothing new. It’s been done for years to advance the man made global warming hoax.

mssr6vj4hk
mssr6vj4hk
3 years ago

It is baffling how someone like Richard Horton is still in charge at The Lancet…He has form on using that rag as his own political plaything dating back to the Iraq War when he regularly overstated casualties whilst sharing a platform with the worst of the Stop the War loons. Corbyn included.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
3 years ago
Reply to  mssr6vj4hk

You are 100% right. I have learned that anything he says, the opposite is almost certainly the truth. An awful man.

X Carys
X Carys
3 years ago
Reply to  mssr6vj4hk

Horton hears a WHO!

Michael Antoniou
Michael Antoniou
3 years ago

I’m one of the scientists that Ian Birrell refers to who wrote a letter to Nature Medicine commenting on the the Kristian Andersen article. I wrote that in no way did the article provide proof of a natural origin of SARS-Cov-2. My letter was summarily rejected.
I couldn’t agree more with what Ian says in his outstanding and revealing article. The actions of some scientists and journals in covering up a possible lab origin of the virus are shameful. This has proven to be very sad episode in the history of scientific conduct and publishing, with serious implications for public health, stretching many years into the future. Those involved have risked tarnishing the honourable name and status of science as an institution working for the collective greater good — and they appear to have done so for selfish reasons, putting money before life.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

Thank you for you valuable contribution. It does seem like a compelling argument and I agree it is shameful that people and organisations with conflicting interests (or who were too afraid), do/did not speak out. At the very least this is a high possibility and instead of entertaining freedom of discussion, this topic has been censored and people have been mocked and vilified for asking questions.

Tim Gardener
Tim Gardener
3 years ago

Scientists as “useful idiots”? Who would have imagined that?

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Gardener

I Corinthians 1:19
and partly in isaiah 29:14.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
3 years ago

Whoops! Isaiah…

Addie Schogger
Addie Schogger
3 years ago

There was, and is, a definite collusion by the establishment to denigrate Trump at every turn. Scandalously this seems to include the medical establishment as well. The media is a lost cause, we know, but the rot is far deeper.
Was the US election stolen? I think there will be lots of revelations in the next few months. (nb. if I had read my own words six months ago I would have thought the author was a a complete nutter but my faith in the media, science etc. has nosedived since then.)

Last edited 3 years ago by Addie Schogger
Marcus Scott
Marcus Scott
3 years ago

These people are not “useful idiots”. That is far too generous a label given their behaviour and the circumstances.
They are traitors.
They have committed treason and should be dealt with accordingly.

Jeff Mason
Jeff Mason
3 years ago

The failure of almost the entire scientific community to maintain its objectivity is disheartening. The seem content to simply parrot the party line of those sponsoring them or their research. With climate change, it has led to trillions of dollars wasted on virtuous but inefficient and unreliable energy generation systems. (If you doubt me, ask California in the summer and Texas in the winter.) Even more tragically, this scientific kowtowing to China has costed lives – millions of them. For doctors who took the Hippocratic Oath, this is simply criminal malpractice. There needs to be a reckoning in the scientific community to reestablish objectivity and open debate. All the editors at these duplicitous journals should be cashiered.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

The other question we need to ask is if our politicians, the media, big business and the scientific establishment were so quick to conspire against us in relation to this issue what else are they lying about?

Last edited 3 years ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I have long assumed that they are all simply lying about everything, and that there is nothing you can do about it.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Is there a more misunderstood phrase than “peer reviewed.” As if that alone validates research.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
3 years ago

Excellent article! Not only these journals charge the tax payer to read articles that were written with tax-payer money, not only they publish articles that are impossible to reproduce, now they also try to distort science …

Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
3 years ago

Thank-you, UnHerd, for continuing to pursue this important issue.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Unherd makes it a point to not cover covid issues for the most part. My guess is Freddy woke up one morning to find a horse head in bed with him so has been steering Unherd to lifestyle issues instead of journalism. Check out who are the staff writers.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for giving me so many upticks over the last 18 months. I sometimes had the most upticked posts on two or three articles at the same time, and when Julie Burchill said that one of my posts was the nicest thing that anyone had ever said to her I could have died and gone to the Baseball Ground circa 1975.
Obviously I feel a bit mean about not contributing. There are some good writers here, and Freddy Gray’s interviews have made a major contribution to the public debate and perhaps even helped to shift the needle on some issues.
There was a time when I would spend a lot of money on newspapers and magazines but I’m just not into buying anything online except flights. I might renew my subscription to The Spectator because they take cheques. My subscription had lapsed because Robert sodding Preston was always on the site, but his presence does appear to have diminished.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Cheers Fraser, your voice will be missed.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

the science establishment colluded to dismiss the lab leak hypothesis as a conspiracy theory, assisted by prominent experts with clear conflicts of interest, patsy politicians and a pathetic media that mostly failed to do its job.

Luckily, nothing of the kind applies to climate science, which is good to know.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
3 years ago

Apparently for 3 months there have been two CCP defectors in the US currently helping the FBI and the DIA with their enquiries. They are saying Covid was engineered to infect humans. The DIA person was at a senior level in the CCP and had oversight of the bioweapons lab in Wuhan. Interestingly, the DIA did not tell the FBI they had someone because they believed that the FBI and CIA had been compromised by the Chinese.
HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group is on the way to the Pacific together with the French carrier group. The QE is also fully loaded with US and UK F35s and US and UK Marines are on board. Apparently there are at least 3 US Carrier Strike Groups already in the Pacific.
Things are about to heat up.

William Harvey
William Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

I do hope not.

Philip Graham
Philip Graham
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

Be interested to see sources for this. It has crossed my mind that the sudden about turn by the powers that be re. lab leak suggests that some significant intelligence has been acquired.

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Graham

Or that we’re being gamed again a la WMD and prepped for a bit of hot action with the PRC

martin_evison
martin_evison
3 years ago

If open scientific debate of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is controlled and suppressed and open scientific debate on the harm vs. benefit of lockdowns and masks is controlled and suppressed, and if campaigns against mis- and disinformation turn out to be mis- and disinformation, on what aspect of the pandemic can the ‘scientific establishment’ be trusted?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Did the Chinese really land anything intact on Mars on the 14th May last, as they claim, does anyone know?

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
3 years ago

Yes. The CCP know.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

Nature released a podcast, ‘Coronapod: Uncertainty and the COVID ‘lab-leak’ theory’ on 4 June in which they continue to push the natural spillover hypothesis, while attacking the lab-leak idea as mistaken and unfounded.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
3 years ago

I’ve been sceptical about the whole Wu Flu thing for the past 15 months, both its origins and the level of existential threat it presents to humanity. I was screamed down, called a conspiracy theorist and told to “follow the science”. To all those who insist history has ended and we can devolve our responsibility to look out for ourselves and make our own decisions to the ever benevolent state and its scientific institutions – well, here’s the science.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

Same. I’ve been dismayed by the acquiescence of friends and family members to the dictates of government and experts.

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago

Excellent article. It’s becoming clear that virologists have been playing God (for grant subventions) and are as morally culpable in their self-justifying experiments as Mengele.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
3 years ago

All things move in cycles. There’s going to be overt or hidden rollbacks from Chinese influence and control in academia, research and business. Already starting. But as for apportioning blame to China, that train has left the station. Now we just need to be friendly but a lot more arms-length with China.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 years ago

Thanks, brilliant article. From my own experience in science I think the peer review process needs to rethought.
The topic of research of my own group, for example, was so niche that the only people who peer reviewed our articles were our direct competitors. In being peer reviewed we gave away our competitive research knowledge while simultaneously opening ourselves up to being blocked by people who wanted to “remain ahead”.
Secondly, I don’t think we need to invoke the bogeyman of financial conflict of interest with China (though this no doubt it exists) in order to explain the behaviour of journals like Nature and Lancet. For years they have been pandering to woke ideology, as can be seen from the letters they published long before Covid.
I once observed, for example, a letter in a prestigious journal blaming Ebola on colonialism and stating that the disease would only be addressed once colonial modes of thinking were abolished. This was accepted by a respected medical journal though, to the editor’s credit, they did allow a rebuttal of the claim to be printed also. Still, it was clear indication of woke-unkthink in full force.
And I suspect that resistance to the lab leak idea was in part due to scientists as individuals being afraid of harm to their reputations for saying anything that could result in accusations of racism. Witch hunts are no longer confined to humanities departments and scientists are right to fear being burned by the administrators and woke funding bodies that pay their salaries.

Last edited 3 years ago by hayden eastwood
Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
3 years ago

Good turnout today, most presumably posting for the last time.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago

Not sure why Mr Birrell is so hung up on the Petrovsky study – it’s a computer modelling study and the conclusions have not entirely held up over time see : “Computational Insights into the Conformational Accessibility and Binding Strength of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein to Human Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2” Cheng Peng Dec 2020

The other big howler in Petrovsky’s paper is : “Spike protein mutations are rare, especially in the receptor binding domain (RBD) that interacts with ACE2. ” Errr…No
Alpha – N501Y; Beta and Gamma – K417T, E484K & N501Y; Delta – E484Q
and many more : “SARS-CoV-2 variants, spike mutations and immune escape” William T. Harvey, Nature reviews microbiology June 2021.

Currently the pieces of this puzzle that lean me towards a natural spillover event are :

  1.  An animal spillover occured with SARS1 in S China
  2.  Sequencing data from samples showed that the initial cluster in the Wuhan market was not the first cluster
  3.  Earliest recognised case Dec 8 had no contact with any market – his nearest contact was his Mum who cooked for the contact and had been to a different market to buy ingredients.
  4.  The phylogenetic evidence regarding when the split occured between A and B lineages in China, notably the evidence that Lineage A at least, was circulating as early as October / November 2019 in multiple markets. “Early appearance of two distinct genomic lineages of SARS-CoV-2 in different Wuhan wildlife markets suggests SARS-CoV-2 has a natural origin” Garry May 2021
  5.  A natural spillover is the most banal explanation. I have read lots of competing narratives, Wade, Segreto & Deigin, Sirotkin and Latham and they all come across as very convoluted stories.
  6.  As far as the GoF arguments are concerned I have a list of about 6 queries (so far) regarding these but they are all very technical
  7.  I have an unshakeable faith in random insertions, deletions, recombinations etc + natural selection triumphing in the end, without any help from us.

Roll on the next pandemic.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 years ago

Why are people down-voting this entry? Personally, I welcome a well thought-out counter argument to any article, whether or not I agree with it. Unherd is more and more attracting crazies in search of an echo chamber, rather than people who want to challenge their own preconceptions.

Last edited 3 years ago by hayden eastwood
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago

Very interesting. Your point 5, especially, is really important. Is there a place to see your GoF counterarguments?

It is unfortunate that the Chinese insistence on secrecy, the documented (and never refuted) conflicts of interest in key participants, and the exaggerated dismissal of the lab leak hypothesis, while accepting the idea of a spread from non-Chinese frozen food, all significantly reduce the credibility of the WHO, Chinese sources, and even important journals. You could even argue that since China would obviously hide and misrepresent any data that could point towards a lab leak, any Chinese data that point to anything else are to some extent suspect.

You are a very helpful counterweight to the general consensus here. Please, would you join Unherd as a member and continue to post? I shall miss your contributions otherwise.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

Brilliant, Ian. So it seems that Mark Steyn is right. It’s China’s world, and we just live in it.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
3 years ago

Treason.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago

We know that Obama stopped funding gain of function research and called for a voluntary moratorium on the research. That was in 2014 and it is known that viruses had been created in the USA at that time. What happened to them? The White House should come clean about the research in the USA, but they are no more likely to admit any involvement than the CCP.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
3 years ago

How can we ‘trust the science’ when we can’t trust the scientists?

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
3 years ago

It is likely even more complicated than explained in this article. Research is nowadays so much a business: one needs to be political correct and produce research that fits the narrative. This is more important to be able to survive as a researcher than the value of the research.
Comment by the editor of the lancet in 2015:“A lot of what is published is incorrect.” I’m not allowed
to say who made this remark because we were asked
to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked
not to take photographs of slides. Those who worked
for government agencies pleaded that their comments
especially remain unquoted, since the forthcoming UK
election meant they were living in “purdah”—a chilling
state where severe restrictions on freedom of speech
are placed on anyone on the government’s payroll. Why
the paranoid concern for secrecy and non-attribution?
Because this symposium—on the reproducibility and
reliability of biomedical research, held at the Wellcome
Trust in London last week—touched on one of the
most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that
something has gone fundamentally wrong with one of
our greatest human creations.”

Just look at everybody talking about the vaccines being THE solution to all problems while they are still in their research stage (end dec 2022)
What is sure is that the pharma industry has delivered to its shareholders and now that the narrative of the vaccine is generalised, and the politicians are delivering to the media. Nobody becomes healthy trough vaccines, health is something completely different.
To support the author: this is a patent that protects the specific changes needed in the covid virus to be more ‘human friendly’: https://patents.google.com/patent/US7223390B2/en

N Millington
N Millington
3 years ago

Another comical read of scientific discourse.

Theres still no damn evidence by the way. There are fringe indications something might have happened, but no evidence of a bio weapon and even if it were one – why exactly would a potential enemy want to eliminate the only of people who actively drain the economy of a foe?

All I see there is hearsay. Sorry.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 years ago
Reply to  N Millington

There no mention of any bio weapon, you’ve (deliberately) misread the article.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  N Millington

The article compares the suppression of the lab. leak possibility with the encouragement of the zoonotic possibility. The bulk of any ‘evidence’ is under the absolute control of the Chinese regime, which has demonstrated that it actively discourages the lab. leak theory, thus revealing that it cannot be considered impartial in the matter.
The article also explores why the impartiality of various people and publications which one should be able to take for granted are similarly suspect.
You are using the strawman tactic.
Personally, 14 months ago, I thought the proximity of lab and outbreak too much of a coincidence. I put no weight on Trump’s allegation, but took note that the BBC followed mention of his allegation with an instant debunking, as if science is a black-and-white matter.

Last edited 3 years ago by Colin Elliott
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  N Millington

Just a very early prototype rather like the ill fated De Havilland Comet.*

Next time it should be considerably more effective. If not, ‘we’ still have those 14 Ohio class subs and their Trident D-2 Missiles.

(* Two exploded in mid air en route to, or on leaving Rome in the mid 50’s. All very embarrassing.)

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago

Birrell is a dangerous guy. The script writer, if we recall, for Cameron on the occasion of the Libya war, but also a columnist for the Independent, the bible of wokism, which is the new imperialism of the “west”, especially the anglosphere.
The actual lab in Wuhan is 20Km from the wet market, which is a long way to leak.

Last edited 3 years ago by Franz Von Peppercorn