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The real Covid conspiracy Supine scientists such as Jeremy Farrar are being let off the hook

The end of the Enlightenment (Laura Lezza/Getty Images)

The end of the Enlightenment (Laura Lezza/Getty Images)


March 11, 2023   8 mins

The departing director of the world’s second biggest philanthropic donor and one of the most influential funders of scientific research was doing his best to sound noble. In an interview marking his departure from the Wellcome Trust, Sir Jeremy Farrar was talking about the failures of political leaders, the threats of “zoonotic” diseases spilling over from animals to humans, the importance of scientists helping to shape the future, and how experts must speak out to prevent “conspiracy theories” being “amplified”.

Here was a prominent figure dedicated to the role of science in solving global problems — even if he did display flashes of the egotism that led him to serve on the Sage advisory body during the pandemic and then quit to rush out a book lamenting other people’s failures.

“If we do revert to a lack of evidence, a lack of information — if we’re going back to the era where we’re just making policies up with no evidence behind them, the world is in a worse place. And we’re moving away from an era of sort of 20th, 21st-first century enlightenment to something darker,’ he concluded with a flourish. ‘We can’t let that happen.”

Who could argue with the need for evidence-based science and the unfettered flow of information to help make the world a better place? It was no surprise, however, Farrar chose The Guardian for his valedictory interview as he heads to Geneva for a new post as chief scientist of the World Health Organization. For this ensured there would be no challenging questions over his central — and profoundly anti-science — role in stifling debate on the pandemic origins and effectively pushing his own conspiracy, cooked up with a handful of influential colleagues, including Anthony Fauci in the US, which suggested any idea that Covid might have emerged from some kind of laboratory incident in Wuhan was crackers.

Never mind all the evidence that has emerged showing how members of a group of experts that Farrar marshalled to squash the lab-leak hypothesis harboured their own doubts over the disease emerging naturally, based on its location and unusual properties. Let alone his own initial fears on this vexatious issue — or indeed, his recently-revealed verdict on high-risk experiments on coronaviruses being carried out in low bio-security laboratories in Wuhan as “Wild West” research. Instead, his interviewer, a long-serving health reporter, dutifully told her readers that “Farrar’s position is that while it is likely to have come from animals, it is important to stay open-minded and gather evidence. Above all, we need transparency, he says.”

This is, sadly, typical of the pitiful reporting seen on this particular issue from The Guardian. Presumably this continuing failure is a legacy of the media group’s reaction to Donald Trump’s promotion of the possibility of a lab leak, a response shared with The New York Times. The Guardian, however, even allowed British scientist Peter Daszak to publish an article headlined “Ignore the conspiracy theories: scientists know Covid-19 wasn’t created in a lab” without disclosing his organisation’s financial and research links to Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) until forced into hasty clarification. Farrar, incidentally, promoted this risible piece on Twitter: “As always worth reading @PeterDaszak”.

Yet The Guardian was far from alone; almost all Western media failed in their duty to challenge powerful players and vested interests on the crucial issue of the pandemic origins. Patsy journalists churned out reports fed to them by prominent scientists that dismissed “conspiracy theories” about a possible lab leak, placing more faith in a brutally-repressive Chinese dictatorship than an elected US government. They kept pointing to an animal market in Wuhan as the most likely source of SARS-CoV-2, a theory dismissed even by the Chinese authorities and despite obvious flaws in this argument given earliest cases. Ultimately, much of the media ended up presenting a collective idea that there was settled consensus, sweeping aside the voices of bravely-dissenting scientists.

Farrar was at the centre of this deceptive web, spinning lines to impede unfettered debate on the origins of the biggest public health crisis for a century. Along with two of his Wellcome Trust colleagues, he joined 24 other scientists to sign a key letter in The Lancet journal sycophantically praising Chinese experts for their “rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data” and hitting out at “conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin”. It was later discovered to have been covertly organised by Daszak, who had spent years working with his friend Shi Zhengli, the celebrated lead researcher into bat coronaviruses at WIV.

Farrar also hosted a conference call on the first day of February 2020 at the behest of former presidential adviser Fauci. They were joined by Francis Collins, then head of the biggest US science funding body, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief scientific adviser, and at least 10 other experts. We know now that several taking part held concerns over the virus being engineered. Even after the call, Farrar admitted he was “50:50” on whether it came from a lab. Yet he oversaw the near-instant drafting by four participants and one other author of “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2”, another hugely-influential article published by Nature Medicine stating firmly that they “do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible”.

Dr Robert Redfield, an eminent virologist who led the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when the outbreak began in 2020, has long feared Covid resulted from a lab leak. Now his suspicions are backed by two US intelligence agencies. FBI chief Christopher Wray admitted last week they have “for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident”. Yet Redfield told a congressional committee hearing into the virus’s origins this week that he was deliberately “sidelined” by the likes of Fauci and Farrar: “It was told to me that they wanted a single narrative, and that I obviously had a different point of view. Science has debate and they squashed any debate.”

Redfield’s written submission to the committee rightly argued that both theories on the origins “needed to be aggressively and thoroughly examined” — although his own view “indicates Covid-19 infections more likely were the result of an accidental lab leak than the result of a natural spillover event”. This conclusion, he explained, was “ based primarily on the biology of the virus itself, including its rapid high infectivity for human to human transmission
 as well as a number of other important factors to include the unusual actions in and around Wuhan in the fall of 2019”.

Many other experts disagree. This is how science works: through the clash of ideas and rooting out of evidence to test theories. Yet Redfield told investigative journalist Paul Thacker last year that he believed Fauci and Collins used their political power in the scientific community to set the narrative and exclude dissident voices such as his own, using Farrar as “the front person”. He claimed The Lancet statement, as well as the Nature Medicine missive, “was orchestrated by Jeremy Farrar — I think under direction of Fauci and Collins, trying to nip any attempt to have an honest investigation of the pandemic’s origin”.

This is incredibly damning: these two documents were the most influential papers on the pandemic’s origins — accessed by millions, widely shared, heavily quoted and even used by social media to suppress publication of “conspiracies”. Meanwhile, Farrar pointed to the Nature Medicine statement when questioned on his belief that natural transmission was the most likely cause of the pandemic. “Jeremy’s belief is that the Nature Medicine research paper remains the most important research on the genomic epidemiology of the origins of this virus to date,’ his spokeswoman told me in June 2021.

Prior to this week’s hearing, Republicans on the committee issued a sharp memo asking why Farrar’s work on the Nature Medicine paper — which his spokeswoman confessed to me he had helped to “convene” although it now emerges he made at least one edit to toughen its tone — was uncredited by the journal. A fair question. They also quoted an email from lead author Kristian Andersen dated February 8 — eight days after that secretive conference call — to German participant Christian Drosten, which admitted “our main work over the last couple of weeks has been focused on trying to disprove any type of lab theory”.

Yet before the conference call, Anderson was “60-70%” convinced the virus came from a lab, according to Farrar’s book, alarmed by properties such as its receptor binding domain which “looked.. like a perfect key for entering human cells”, and the infamous furin cleavage site, which allows more efficient entry into human cells and is not found on similar types of coronaviruses.

Concerns have grown after it was discovered EcoHealth Alliance, the group run by Daszak that funnelled US funding to support research at WIV, sought a grant in 2018 from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency proposing to insert a furin cleavage site into SARS-like bat coronaviruses to assess their ability to infect cells. The bid was declined, due to the risks. Daszak insists the collaborators have not pursued the research to his knowledge. But who knows exactly what really went on in those Wuhan labs given the stonewalling of outside inquiries? They could have continued the work with other funds for all we know.

Let me state again with absolute clarity: we do not know the pandemic’s cause. It might have been through natural transmission. Or it might be the legacy of some kind of unfortunate laboratory incident. There is no hard proof for either theory, despite intense efforts to find an intermediate species of animal that might have “amplified” a bat virus to spill over into humans. Yet it was foolish to ignore that SARS-CoV-2 erupted 1,000 kilometres from the closest colonies of wild bats with similar coronaviruses. And in a city that was home to China’s only maximum bio-security laboratory — especially when WIV held the biggest repository of bat viruses in Asia, had known safety concerns, suddenly took its virus databases offline weeks before the pandemic emerged, and was carrying out risky gain-of-function research to boost infectivity of mutant bat viruses in humanised mice.

Whatever the origins, it seems alarmingly clear that a group of influential scientists, empowered by holding the purse strings for research, set out to deliberately stifle debate over the birth of a pandemic that has caused such devastation — often while saying that we must “follow the science” and despite their own early concerns over risky research in Wuhan and the virus’s strange properties. They pushed the toxic notion that anyone asking valid questions was inflaming conspiracy theorists and backing “implausible” ideas — and were aided by weak politicians, supine journalists and complicit science journals. Such was the influence of these funding behemoths, they set the tone across Europe. This was the real Covid conspiracy.

We can only guess why they adopted such a stance, although I suspect it was through misguided desire to protect both science and some of their own reputations having backed gain-of-function research. Regardless, their stupidity risks harming their profession through sinister efforts to crush free debate, a doctrine that lies at the root of scientific advancement. Sadly, all those journalists who failed to do their job of challenging powerful players and vested interests have also undermined my own profession again. This should provoke soul-searching, especially on the Left, over allowing partisanship to override fearless interrogation of important issues.

We can, however, now see the reason for the shameful silence in Westminster and Whitehall following the furore over former health secretary Matt Hancock’s leaked WhatsApp messages. These reveal how the Government argued behind the scenes that the outbreak’s location was “entirely coincidental” and that any discussion of a possible lab leak risked “damaging national security”. So our bureaucrats, politicians and spooks put their desire to appease a Communist dictatorship in China above the global quest to discover the truth about the pandemic origins, which might help us to prevent subsequent health disasters. No wonder my Freedom of Information requests on this issue have been stymied in both London and Edinburgh.

These inquiries still have some distance to travel, although slowly but surely the truth is emerging. “Recently released unredacted email messages make it clear that in early 2020 science funding heads Fauci, Collins and Farrar were informed by Anderson and three others that the genome sequence of Sars-Cov-2 raised the possibility that it was a laboratory product. The funding agency heads told them this threatened “great potential harm to science and international harmony”. The four scientists, following their paymasters’ lead, published a commentary in a journal falsely affirming that science ruled out the possibility of laboratory origins. “This false narrative still colours discussion, having dominated the debate for a year,” said the biosafety expert Richard Ebright, professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University.

But this begs a question: how can Farrar, having corroded the brand of one of our nation’s finest institutions and played such a role in promoting this narrative, now be handed the influential role of chief scientist at the WHO? “In this context, the appointment is a major error,” says Ebright rightly. This is another disastrous own goal by a UN body that has performed so badly in the pandemic from the earliest days. This post, arguably the most influential scientific role in the world, has been given to a figure who was at the epicentre of spinning a web of deception that stifled scientific probing of the first global pandemic for a century. It suggests that we are sliding from an era of enlightenment to something darker — and as Farrar says, we can’t let this happen.


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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Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

This article represents everything that journalism should be: open-minded, exacting, thorough and above all – at least as far as it’s possible to discern – independent.

Any UK government that signs up to unfettered liability to the dictates of the WHO under the likes of Farrar deserves to be condemned, as history surely will condemn.

One simple but chilling question stands out. Why – for what purpose – would scientists wish to bio-engineer a form of virus designed specifically to overcome our bodies defences? Perhaps some scientists among Unherd readers could put forward a valid research explanation.

And moreover: why would anyone trust the Chinese to carry out that programme?

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The only plausible answer is, surely, weaponisation?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

It is, unless someone can proffer a valid humanitarian rationale, e g. bio-defence. We know that toxins are produced for chemical weaponry, but they’re not contagious.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

The possible argument was that, if all the major players were involved in the research and received the results, then no country would have an advantage.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

Are you seriously suggesting that any research conducted in Chinese lab would be open to scrutiny and results available to all?
Come on, it is communist dictatorship we are taling about.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

Are you seriously suggesting that any research conducted in Chinese lab would be open to scrutiny and results available to all?
Come on, it is communist dictatorship we are taling about.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

One would only need to drop a test tube of it in Times Square or Oxford Circus in the tourist season…
But just like during the Cold War the real threat is stupidity/bureaucratic brain freeze/the madness of generals and scientists/Murphy’s Law. And politicians.

Last edited 1 year ago by laurence scaduto
jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
1 year ago

One would only have to drop a vial of it in Times Square…’ and what- lots of people would develop cold symptoms, a cough, aches and pains?

Last edited 1 year ago by jules Ritchie
carl taylor
carl taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  jules Ritchie

you are forgetting the official reaction to those ‘aches and pains’ and the ensuing economic damage

Matt Spinolo
Matt Spinolo
1 year ago
Reply to  jules Ritchie

Keep in mind that millions of people have died from this “in progress” version, which was not optimized for lethality, but was merely the current level of progress to date.

carl taylor
carl taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  jules Ritchie

you are forgetting the official reaction to those ‘aches and pains’ and the ensuing economic damage

Matt Spinolo
Matt Spinolo
1 year ago
Reply to  jules Ritchie

Keep in mind that millions of people have died from this “in progress” version, which was not optimized for lethality, but was merely the current level of progress to date.

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
1 year ago

One would only have to drop a vial of it in Times Square…’ and what- lots of people would develop cold symptoms, a cough, aches and pains?

Last edited 1 year ago by jules Ritchie
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

It is, unless someone can proffer a valid humanitarian rationale, e g. bio-defence. We know that toxins are produced for chemical weaponry, but they’re not contagious.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

The possible argument was that, if all the major players were involved in the research and received the results, then no country would have an advantage.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

One would only need to drop a test tube of it in Times Square or Oxford Circus in the tourist season…
But just like during the Cold War the real threat is stupidity/bureaucratic brain freeze/the madness of generals and scientists/Murphy’s Law. And politicians.

Last edited 1 year ago by laurence scaduto
Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

An excellent read! I think the immediate total shut down of the Wuhan population gave the game away! The meticulously researched ‘Viral – The Search for the Origin of Covid-19” (Alina Chan and Matt Ridley’) also makes a compelling case pointing to weaponisation.

Nic Cowper
Nic Cowper
1 year ago
Reply to  Diane Tasker

Viral is an excellent read 


Nic Cowper
Nic Cowper
1 year ago
Reply to  Diane Tasker

Viral is an excellent read 


Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Why? Essentially as I understand it. Develop a better bullet so you can develop a better bullet proof vest.
Fauci has said that if you you didn’t do GOF tests you couldn’t develop the flu vaccine.
Why China?
More bang for your buck.
Less regulation than US – probably not got go ahead in US (obviously rightly).
All configured to do in lab.

As I remember it the guy from Kings College (a specialist in this area) pointed out that just because they didn’t get the original funding doesn’t mean they didn’t do it. This happens all the time in such research. He also said ( this was several years back) that it was likely a lab leak because the virus had changed in a way that was very unlikely to have happened in the wild.
Would I trust China to do this testing ?
Obviously not – what sane person who cared anything about other people would?

Last edited 1 year ago by Isabel Ward
Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

If you recall the Wuhan Lab was built by the French who were keen to work with the Chinese on virus research but were quickly shown the door. So they were basically novices at working in high security labs. That they were found to be carrying out GOF in BS2 labs by people who were not fully qualified could have lead to the ultimate mistake. The lab assistants who fell ill could never be traced.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

If you recall the Wuhan Lab was built by the French who were keen to work with the Chinese on virus research but were quickly shown the door. So they were basically novices at working in high security labs. That they were found to be carrying out GOF in BS2 labs by people who were not fully qualified could have lead to the ultimate mistake. The lab assistants who fell ill could never be traced.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

GOF work is supposed to arrive at a vaccine before the created virus can leap from an animal host. Nicholas Wade reported that the GOF work was being done at a lessor safety level than recommended; thus, a possible leak. If science is allowed to dabble in such efforts, the highest possible safety level in certified facilities should be required.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

The Wuhan lab had a number of issues related to poor / defective construction as well, such as problems with the ventilation system (rather important, given what they’re doing in there).

It was built by BioMérieux. Stéphane Bancel then skipped from that CEO gig, right over to running Moderna (a move that raised eyebrows, given he has no relevant experience in mRNA or even drug dev).

It is interesting how many of these players seem to fail upwards, and keep rotating around and reappearing in the story in different roles.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

The Wuhan lab had a number of issues related to poor / defective construction as well, such as problems with the ventilation system (rather important, given what they’re doing in there).

It was built by BioMérieux. Stéphane Bancel then skipped from that CEO gig, right over to running Moderna (a move that raised eyebrows, given he has no relevant experience in mRNA or even drug dev).

It is interesting how many of these players seem to fail upwards, and keep rotating around and reappearing in the story in different roles.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

For selling vaccines?

Last edited 1 year ago by Fran Martinez
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences =
Porton Down. QED?

John Thorogood
John Thorogood
1 year ago

Charles. Your point is?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Thorogood

Prototype Biological weapon

negligent discharge.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

That is the kind of argument that would make me prefer Farrar and Danczig, lies, suppression of the truth, and all included. COVID would clearly make a totally useless biological weapon, since you can neither control it nor stop ists spread – as we have clearly seen. Like all the blather about the ‘Chinsese Flu’ and the ‘Wuhan Virus’, that the Orange Man indulged in, it just uses a serious wordwide health emergency as a handy excuse for China-bashing and firing up the base. It is still true that the lab origin seems to be about 50:50 on current evidence, and that it was wrong to claim we knew otherwise, but you could almost understand how people might think it was better to quash that discussion and get on with dealing with the emergency, rather than indulge in starting a mutual blame game.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Why do you claim that covid virus lab origin is only 50:50?
There is zero evidence that it was transmitted by bats to some animals and then to humans.
So, the other 50% of your covid origin theory is what exactly?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

AFAIAC there is not really any hard evidence either way. And the more extraordinary the claim (and the consequences of adopting it), the more you need hard evidence. The default assumption would be the natural origin, since that kind of thing has happened repeatedly. The existence of the virus center in Wuhan working on bat virus, and there being some people in the scientific world interested in gain-of-function research means there is a plausible route also here, but that does not prove it actually happened, only that it might have. Of the several attempts to show that the virus does not ‘look natural’, only one seems to have stood up, the one about the distribution of enzyme cleavage sites through the virus genome. And it is hard to be sure what the probability is of *something* fishy-looking being found in a random virus genome when many people are eagerly searching for it. Anyway, a very large fraction of the scientific world firmly believe in the natural origin. The US intelligence agencies, collectively got it right – some believe in one hypothesis, some in the other, none of them is particularly certain either way. For the scientific world both hypotheses seem to be viable. That is a lot of smart people in both fields, knowing more than I do, who could not to to a clear decision. The only way I can see to certainty would be if you jump to a conclusion, and arbitrarily decide that all those who disagree with you are part (or dupes) of a conspiracy. And I, for one, am not jumping on that wagon.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Simon Bonini
Simon Bonini
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Well said. It’s a very good article with a lot of balance about the truth of the origins. Where it fails is absolutely condemning those who theorized “natural”. The science and investigation is still on-going. We will probably never know for certain. At the time, tensions were high. The “truth” of its source was not the highest priority. It was handling it regardless of origin. Many in the world of politics were looking to bash China using the “science” when the science was and remains inconclusive.
Great article – very poor and unsupported conclusions.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Bonini

Exactly!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Bonini

Exactly!

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

But that is precisely the wagon that those scientists, physicians, health officials and others jumped on when they ridiculed and/or demonized scientists who supported the lab leak theory and journalists who wanted to investigate rather than blindly accept the word from on high.

Simon Bonini
Simon Bonini
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Well said. It’s a very good article with a lot of balance about the truth of the origins. Where it fails is absolutely condemning those who theorized “natural”. The science and investigation is still on-going. We will probably never know for certain. At the time, tensions were high. The “truth” of its source was not the highest priority. It was handling it regardless of origin. Many in the world of politics were looking to bash China using the “science” when the science was and remains inconclusive.
Great article – very poor and unsupported conclusions.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

But that is precisely the wagon that those scientists, physicians, health officials and others jumped on when they ridiculed and/or demonized scientists who supported the lab leak theory and journalists who wanted to investigate rather than blindly accept the word from on high.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

AFAIAC there is not really any hard evidence either way. And the more extraordinary the claim (and the consequences of adopting it), the more you need hard evidence. The default assumption would be the natural origin, since that kind of thing has happened repeatedly. The existence of the virus center in Wuhan working on bat virus, and there being some people in the scientific world interested in gain-of-function research means there is a plausible route also here, but that does not prove it actually happened, only that it might have. Of the several attempts to show that the virus does not ‘look natural’, only one seems to have stood up, the one about the distribution of enzyme cleavage sites through the virus genome. And it is hard to be sure what the probability is of *something* fishy-looking being found in a random virus genome when many people are eagerly searching for it. Anyway, a very large fraction of the scientific world firmly believe in the natural origin. The US intelligence agencies, collectively got it right – some believe in one hypothesis, some in the other, none of them is particularly certain either way. For the scientific world both hypotheses seem to be viable. That is a lot of smart people in both fields, knowing more than I do, who could not to to a clear decision. The only way I can see to certainty would be if you jump to a conclusion, and arbitrarily decide that all those who disagree with you are part (or dupes) of a conspiracy. And I, for one, am not jumping on that wagon.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Why? Because it might ‘scare the pants off’ everyone?

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Define “everyone”.

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Define “everyone”.

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’m not sure quashing discussion gets better solutions

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  James Jenkin

Which is exactly what Unherders do to the “un-enlightened”….

Last edited 1 year ago by Danielle Treille
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Danielle, your indiscriminate use of the term “Unherders” says far more about certain limitations on the part of someone using that term than it does about the diverse contributors to Comments.
There are very many intelligent, worthwhile and often original contributions from across the political spectrum, plus from those with no particular affiliation but expertise in their respective fields.
You’re more than welcome to try to refute any of the Comments – we’re a pretty robust bunch in general – but simply throwing insults around is a waste of your time.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Not a waste, judging by your reaction. And insults, only when they come from the “other” side. So just keep trying to shut me up. Bonne chance.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

I’m suggesting you try to reply to Comments you disagree with by explaining your own perspective. That’s the very opposite of “trying to shut you up”.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

I’m suggesting you try to reply to Comments you disagree with by explaining your own perspective. That’s the very opposite of “trying to shut you up”.

Stevie K
Stevie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The restraint and precision in your choice of words was a thing of wonder!
Thank you for making that point so well.

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Not a waste, judging by your reaction. And insults, only when they come from the “other” side. So just keep trying to shut me up. Bonne chance.

Stevie K
Stevie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The restraint and precision in your choice of words was a thing of wonder!
Thank you for making that point so well.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Danielle, your indiscriminate use of the term “Unherders” says far more about certain limitations on the part of someone using that term than it does about the diverse contributors to Comments.
There are very many intelligent, worthwhile and often original contributions from across the political spectrum, plus from those with no particular affiliation but expertise in their respective fields.
You’re more than welcome to try to refute any of the Comments – we’re a pretty robust bunch in general – but simply throwing insults around is a waste of your time.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  James Jenkin

Which is exactly what Unherders do to the “un-enlightened”….

Last edited 1 year ago by Danielle Treille
harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

There are always excuses for hiding the truth, some better than others, but none nearly as good as simply knowing the truth.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Why do you claim that covid virus lab origin is only 50:50?
There is zero evidence that it was transmitted by bats to some animals and then to humans.
So, the other 50% of your covid origin theory is what exactly?

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Why? Because it might ‘scare the pants off’ everyone?

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’m not sure quashing discussion gets better solutions

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

There are always excuses for hiding the truth, some better than others, but none nearly as good as simply knowing the truth.

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
1 year ago

I agree. The Chinese just hadn’t developed the antidote or learnt how to control its mutation, otherwise it is the perfect biological weapon: crippling to the economy and polity of ‘enemy’ nations but not so deadly as to be world-ending. Like all such Weapons of Mass Destruction, the wound effect is more devastating than a KIA.

Unfortunately for the Chinese, it got out before they had the means in place to control it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Diggins
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

That is the kind of argument that would make me prefer Farrar and Danczig, lies, suppression of the truth, and all included. COVID would clearly make a totally useless biological weapon, since you can neither control it nor stop ists spread – as we have clearly seen. Like all the blather about the ‘Chinsese Flu’ and the ‘Wuhan Virus’, that the Orange Man indulged in, it just uses a serious wordwide health emergency as a handy excuse for China-bashing and firing up the base. It is still true that the lab origin seems to be about 50:50 on current evidence, and that it was wrong to claim we knew otherwise, but you could almost understand how people might think it was better to quash that discussion and get on with dealing with the emergency, rather than indulge in starting a mutual blame game.

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
1 year ago

I agree. The Chinese just hadn’t developed the antidote or learnt how to control its mutation, otherwise it is the perfect biological weapon: crippling to the economy and polity of ‘enemy’ nations but not so deadly as to be world-ending. Like all such Weapons of Mass Destruction, the wound effect is more devastating than a KIA.

Unfortunately for the Chinese, it got out before they had the means in place to control it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Diggins
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Thorogood

Prototype Biological weapon

negligent discharge.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

One in an urban centre containing more than a million people.
The other, in a very low population-density area within a facility under military control.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Ironically or even coincidentally not very far from the magnificent Cathedral City of Salisbury.

Years ago I was surprised that our ‘research facilities’ were NOT based in the rather ominously named plant at DOUNREAY at the very top of Caledonia.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Ironically or even coincidentally not very far from the magnificent Cathedral City of Salisbury.

Years ago I was surprised that our ‘research facilities’ were NOT based in the rather ominously named plant at DOUNREAY at the very top of Caledonia.

John Thorogood
John Thorogood
1 year ago

Charles. Your point is?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

One in an urban centre containing more than a million people.
The other, in a very low population-density area within a facility under military control.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

As for the “why” – scientists have great trouble asking the question WHETHER something should be done; if it’s possible, the scientific imperative is to do it.
You can see this in the testimony of the Nazi doctors justifying their horrific experiments: Scientific knowledge ranks higher than human life. This is a problem medicine has grappled with since at least the Middle Ages, and is a key reason why the Nuremberg Code explicitly sets out the opposite position.
The question of “whether” is not raised in STEM education. You need the humanities for that. Stop teaching the humanities, and we’ll lose just that.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Great point.

Nicholas Coulson
Nicholas Coulson
1 year ago

Clemenceau said that war is too important to be left to the generals. Gain of function research is too important to be left to the virologists. As we have seen, to our cost – nearly 7 million dead.

Russ W
Russ W
1 year ago

Sadly, this is exactly what is happening

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Great point.

Nicholas Coulson
Nicholas Coulson
1 year ago

Clemenceau said that war is too important to be left to the generals. Gain of function research is too important to be left to the virologists. As we have seen, to our cost – nearly 7 million dead.

Russ W
Russ W
1 year ago

Sadly, this is exactly what is happening

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The Chinese Government was trusted to carry out the programme because they have less concern for their own environment and for their own people. The fallacy in the position of people such as Fauci who collaborated with the Chinese Government is that the escaped virus spread globally. Presumably these people thought that any escape of a virus could be controlled.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago

Actually, it’s because only China has the right monkeys and mice to experiment on. The animal rights activists in the West are the cause of that, and Covid is the unintended consequence.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 year ago

Classic SARS CoV was more deadly than SARS CoV 2 but had poor transmission and so was controlled. The cleavage site that should not have been there for this supposed Zoonotic virus overcome that problem. The closest coronavirus with a cleavage site had only 39% identity to SARS CoV2. And these eminent scientists have yet to understand how it got there except to say it definitely didn’t come from a Lab.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago

Actually, it’s because only China has the right monkeys and mice to experiment on. The animal rights activists in the West are the cause of that, and Covid is the unintended consequence.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 year ago

Classic SARS CoV was more deadly than SARS CoV 2 but had poor transmission and so was controlled. The cleavage site that should not have been there for this supposed Zoonotic virus overcome that problem. The closest coronavirus with a cleavage site had only 39% identity to SARS CoV2. And these eminent scientists have yet to understand how it got there except to say it definitely didn’t come from a Lab.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Why China? Because they now have a practical monopoly on animal based research.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Thanks, that’s an important point, along with others made.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Thanks, that’s an important point, along with others made.

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

In 2020 Fauci and Collins suppressed the Great Barrington Declaration, a prospectus for how to respond to Covid. It recommended targeted care and support for the vulnerable (obese, compromised immune, fragile), and advocated that the rest of us should go on with our lives, keep the lights on. It turns out the pandemic was more of a panic demic–fueled by Fauci’s single minded desire to enrich big pharma by insisting that vaccines were the only sensible approach. We now know he was lying and self serving.
Covid disinformation, fueled by in-the-toilet, servile media panic, was the dress rehearsal for crowd control–for compelling frightened surrender to the lies. This surrender helped pave the way for the current wave of disinformation regarding NATO’s, and America’s provocation of Putin, all in the interest of empire. And as with Covid, we see many here and elsewhere spouting those lies fed to them by a media that is no longer interested in bringing truth to power. Truly, the West is busy destroying itself as we speak, and much of this can be traced back to the Covid overkill.
A final note. Covid was a disease, an affliction like a flu. It sweeps away the vulnerable, but over 90% of those who caught it experience mild symptoms. The danger it presented did not justify masks, shutdowns and all the rest.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

Fauci was trying to keep from being prosecuted and executed for his crimes. He had enough money.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

“Ultimately, much of the media ended up presenting a collective idea that there was settled consensus, sweeping aside the voices of bravely-dissenting scientists.”
Exactly as they are now doing with the ‘climate emergency’. The playbook is identical. Not just the Guardian and the BBC, the worst offenders, but the entire MSM are complicit in this conspiracy of silence to stifle debate and impose a single narrative on a (for the most part) blissfully supine populace. What will it take for people to wake up and smell the coffee?

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

I agree with that. Glad you didn’t include Ukraine, which is an entirely separate issue.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Yes, Ukraine is a different issue. No dissenting scientific voices to suppress, just a complete absence of historical context while bleating on about Putin’s ‘unprovoked’ invasion.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Yes, Ukraine is a different issue. No dissenting scientific voices to suppress, just a complete absence of historical context while bleating on about Putin’s ‘unprovoked’ invasion.

Anakei Ess
Anakei Ess
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

I suspect many people are aware of questions surrounding the climate hypothesis, but feel they don’t have enough knowledge or verbal dexterity to refute the argument. They will also have watched from afar, the pile-ons, the ridicule and the vitriol aimed at those brave enough to stick their heads up.
So they stay quiet, but that doesn’t mean they agree.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

I agree with that. Glad you didn’t include Ukraine, which is an entirely separate issue.

Anakei Ess
Anakei Ess
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

I suspect many people are aware of questions surrounding the climate hypothesis, but feel they don’t have enough knowledge or verbal dexterity to refute the argument. They will also have watched from afar, the pile-ons, the ridicule and the vitriol aimed at those brave enough to stick their heads up.
So they stay quiet, but that doesn’t mean they agree.

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

It seems Covid also inflamed a lot of brains, sweeping away their capacity for rational thinking.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

I’m guessing all those upvoting this comment skimmed over the nonsense about NATO causing Putin’s unprovoked (and badly miscalculated) war. At least I hope so.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Yes, I upvoted it and no, I didn’t overlook the comments about NATO’s shameful behaviour. One can think what one wants about that issue, but the lack of historical context in the media does not allow readers the chance to make up their own minds.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Yes, I upvoted it and no, I didn’t overlook the comments about NATO’s shameful behaviour. One can think what one wants about that issue, but the lack of historical context in the media does not allow readers the chance to make up their own minds.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

Fauci was trying to keep from being prosecuted and executed for his crimes. He had enough money.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

“Ultimately, much of the media ended up presenting a collective idea that there was settled consensus, sweeping aside the voices of bravely-dissenting scientists.”
Exactly as they are now doing with the ‘climate emergency’. The playbook is identical. Not just the Guardian and the BBC, the worst offenders, but the entire MSM are complicit in this conspiracy of silence to stifle debate and impose a single narrative on a (for the most part) blissfully supine populace. What will it take for people to wake up and smell the coffee?

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

It seems Covid also inflamed a lot of brains, sweeping away their capacity for rational thinking.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

I’m guessing all those upvoting this comment skimmed over the nonsense about NATO causing Putin’s unprovoked (and badly miscalculated) war. At least I hope so.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

V much agree. Excellent article.
As regards was it part of a deliberate biological ‘weaponisation’ strategy, we just don’t know. Might possibly be some free-lancing, unchecked scientists in that lab but CCP tentacles run deep so wouldn’t they have known and tacitly approved?
One suspects the reluctance to state it was a distinct possibility part of the embedded western Group-think that has wanted to believe the CCP is/was not as malign a force as it is. We are now awakening at apace over so many domains of western life. Let us hope it is not too late.
The lack of transparency is most acute as regards the CCP and the blanket resistance to a proper investigation. Farrar et al do now seem compromised but the bigger demon here must be seen as the CCP.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The explanation I read somewhere is that by creating a more dangerous virus the researchers could then find a way to kill that virus, and that way could also be used to kill less dangerous viruses. The great danger in this approach is that they may create a very dangerous virus and not find a way to kill it, especially risky if the virus escaped from the lab.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Much is said about the Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli but the American Ralph Baric was also heavily involved in Gain of function research even more so I would say. Here in an interview he talks about his Gain of Function work and their quest for super viruses.
https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/07/26/1030043/gain-of-function-research-coronavirus-ralph-baric-vaccines/
How many of you are also aware of the fact that virologists have been able to recreate the Avian flu virus of 1918 from permanently frozen people that died of the virus. Why? Because they wanted to understand why it was so lethal.
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/reconstruction-1918-virus.html

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Farrar and Fauci, Redfield and Collins have committed crimes against humanity. They should be treated as such.

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

Bring back the guillotine; off with their heads!

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

Bring back the guillotine; off with their heads!

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Chinese and Americans

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

So that thy know what to look for (as part of general genomic surveillance of possible pathogens) in terms of genomic sequences that may produce a potentially harmful pathogen for animals that we use for food or for ourselves.
This is the main purpose of what is called “gain of function research “. It’s an early warning system for the next pandemic.
Like an asteroid watch.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Thanks for this, and to others who’ve added to the understanding of a layperson with regard to the methodologies employed by virologists.
Greater clarity is never wasted.

Stevie K
Stevie K
1 year ago

Isn’t the genome sequencing and monitoring of potentially dangerous viruses, sensible as that is, a very different thing to active gain of function research?

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie K

Personally I think the term “gain of function research” is a very unforutnate term given all the baggage it has acquired over the last 3 years.
For a better understanding of what this research is for and the benefits that accrue one would be better off reading :
Virology under the Microscope—a Call for Rational Discourse Jan 2023
https://journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/jvi.00089-23
Everything from pepped up oncolytic viruses, to faster computers using improved electrical conductance facilitated by an engineered M13 bacteriophage to increased nitrogen fixation by plants using a manipulated Klebsiella etc…etc.
All of these are “gain of function”
Also, as this paper points out, “Gain-of-function research with pathogens of pandemic potential established that avian influenza viruses have the capacity to acquire mammalian transmissibility and that bat-associated coronaviruses posed a danger to humans, years before COVID-19”

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

Generally I am quite proud when I find that I have said things similar to you, because you are so much better informed than I am. But this article is not convincing. It could be summarised as ‘We are the authorities, and we say that virology is a good thing, so leave us to do our work in peace’. Which may be true, but which does not address the actual problems.

When people say ‘gain-of-function research’ what they actually mean is engineering particularly dangerous pathogens for research purposes. Possibly the term technically includes using phages to improve electricity transmission in computers (etc.) and surely that is a ‘good thing’ – but it is irrelevant because that is not what people are (quite understandably) worried about. In effect it is a strawman argument.

Similarly, it is beside the point to give the long list of formal safeguards and permissions required to make certain virology experiments in the US. What people actually worry about is not whether there is a safety bureaucracy in place, but whether the scientists (and bureaucrats) involved are getting it right and respecting the necessary precautions, or whether they just pay lip service and try to find a way to get around the rules and do what they feel they should be doing. In particular, boasting of US safety protocols is not a good answer to those who claim that US researchers may deliberately have promoted – and funded – research in China exactly because that made it possible to do research that was not allowed under US rules.

The paper concludes that “Regulations that are redundant with current practice or overly cumbersome will lead to unwarranted constraints on pandemic preparation and response and could leave humanity more vulnerable to future disease outbreaks.” In itself that is a platitude. But it rather translates as ‘We are already being sufficiently careful on our own initiative, and you had better not limit our freedom to work, because that will lose you the very important fruits of our research’. Which may very well be true, but the problem is exactly that some people doubt whether the research community – or parts of it – has its priorities right and can be trusted to make these decisions without more oversight. The paper is arguing for freedom to continue as before without actually addressing the real preoccupations this raises. That approach decreases trust, rather than increasing it. If they want to be trusted to continue – and quite likely that is the best thing to do – they would be better advised to take people’s worries seriously and address them directly.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Thanks for the sentiments of support. It does feel to me sometimes that UnHerd is a fact free zone.
I agree with you that  the authors of this commentary are unashamed of their biases and that this almost rant is insensitive to some people’s current concerns about science in general and virology in particular but I can understand why they may have chosen to write this piece in this way.
I think that the phrase “gain of function research” was a useful and accurate descriptor before Covid (witness the examples they quote) but it has become terminally contaminated and I think that they possibly felt the need to push back with some force to counter what they view as a fundamental misunderstanding of what is going on.
I agree with you too, that there has been a collapse of trust in science (with big and little “s”) over the last 3 years and counter arguments couched in this way (stone cold facts) don’t do anything to make people feel better.
From personal experience and from what I have read over the last 3 years, I think the majority of research scientists are honest, ethical, questioning (they wouldn’t be doing science otherwise), and self reflective. Sensibly, this solid majority have kept out of the limelight. We don’t hear about them at all. No headlines. No clickbait. I think that the 156 scientists that have put their name to this commentary are a sample of this group – pretty clueless as to how to engage effectively with an anxious / frightened general populace but desperate to tell it how it is.
Personally I don’t have a trust problem with the science side of Covid – politicians and the WHO is another kettle of (stinking) fish. There are bad apples in all walks of life and I would probably place Peter Daszak and EcoAlliance in that barrel at the moment. As for Farrar, Fauci, Whitty, Vallance et al  I think they did the best they could with the information they had at the time.
To my mind, right now, there is an acute shortage of good science communicators in the biological sciences.

Last edited 1 year ago by Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

I have no problem with the science side of COVID either, and I agree in your judgement of scientists, both in the mass and for the individuals you mention. What I do think could be a problem is that scientists are strongly biased against ever deciding that some promising line of research should *not* be carried out. It is not so much desire for fame and fortune – they share that with everybody else – but a genuine desire for improving human knowledge, coupled with a desire to prove themselves and win in the game they have dedicated their life to. Like the mountaneer said about Everest ‘ I want to climb it because it is there’. And, of course, if you do not do it, you risk that someone else will just do it instead of you, and get their name in the history books. Anyone who has ever written a grant application will also have a well-earned cynicism about official goals, and a habit of finding insincere ways to make it look like the things you want to do anyway for rather different reasons actually fulfil the goals of promoting SMEs, increasing diversity, or whatever.
Anecdote 1: The bioscientist, back when AIDS was an urgent (and well-financed) study subject who commented that of course we should be working on AIDS, but we should not forget that this was also an opportunity to do things that were good science.
Anecdote 2: The people who did the first test-tube babies amid considerable controversy – doing things that had not been possible on planet earth since God rested on the seventh day – but claimed as their only reason for doing this the desire to help poor women who could not have children. In the weakest language possible: I do not believe this was an accurate reflection of reality.

The article may well be understandable, but what would be more convincing, and calming, would be an accept in principle that maybe there could be experiments it was better not to do, a more specific evaluation of risks and rewards of particular experiment types, and a discussion of how we can make sure that people will actually abide by the rules set out rather than trying to circumvent them. That at least would show scientists who do not value their own freedom of action above the risk of creating man-made pandemics.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

I have no problem with the science side of COVID either, and I agree in your judgement of scientists, both in the mass and for the individuals you mention. What I do think could be a problem is that scientists are strongly biased against ever deciding that some promising line of research should *not* be carried out. It is not so much desire for fame and fortune – they share that with everybody else – but a genuine desire for improving human knowledge, coupled with a desire to prove themselves and win in the game they have dedicated their life to. Like the mountaneer said about Everest ‘ I want to climb it because it is there’. And, of course, if you do not do it, you risk that someone else will just do it instead of you, and get their name in the history books. Anyone who has ever written a grant application will also have a well-earned cynicism about official goals, and a habit of finding insincere ways to make it look like the things you want to do anyway for rather different reasons actually fulfil the goals of promoting SMEs, increasing diversity, or whatever.
Anecdote 1: The bioscientist, back when AIDS was an urgent (and well-financed) study subject who commented that of course we should be working on AIDS, but we should not forget that this was also an opportunity to do things that were good science.
Anecdote 2: The people who did the first test-tube babies amid considerable controversy – doing things that had not been possible on planet earth since God rested on the seventh day – but claimed as their only reason for doing this the desire to help poor women who could not have children. In the weakest language possible: I do not believe this was an accurate reflection of reality.

The article may well be understandable, but what would be more convincing, and calming, would be an accept in principle that maybe there could be experiments it was better not to do, a more specific evaluation of risks and rewards of particular experiment types, and a discussion of how we can make sure that people will actually abide by the rules set out rather than trying to circumvent them. That at least would show scientists who do not value their own freedom of action above the risk of creating man-made pandemics.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Thanks for the sentiments of support. It does feel to me sometimes that UnHerd is a fact free zone.
I agree with you that  the authors of this commentary are unashamed of their biases and that this almost rant is insensitive to some people’s current concerns about science in general and virology in particular but I can understand why they may have chosen to write this piece in this way.
I think that the phrase “gain of function research” was a useful and accurate descriptor before Covid (witness the examples they quote) but it has become terminally contaminated and I think that they possibly felt the need to push back with some force to counter what they view as a fundamental misunderstanding of what is going on.
I agree with you too, that there has been a collapse of trust in science (with big and little “s”) over the last 3 years and counter arguments couched in this way (stone cold facts) don’t do anything to make people feel better.
From personal experience and from what I have read over the last 3 years, I think the majority of research scientists are honest, ethical, questioning (they wouldn’t be doing science otherwise), and self reflective. Sensibly, this solid majority have kept out of the limelight. We don’t hear about them at all. No headlines. No clickbait. I think that the 156 scientists that have put their name to this commentary are a sample of this group – pretty clueless as to how to engage effectively with an anxious / frightened general populace but desperate to tell it how it is.
Personally I don’t have a trust problem with the science side of Covid – politicians and the WHO is another kettle of (stinking) fish. There are bad apples in all walks of life and I would probably place Peter Daszak and EcoAlliance in that barrel at the moment. As for Farrar, Fauci, Whitty, Vallance et al  I think they did the best they could with the information they had at the time.
To my mind, right now, there is an acute shortage of good science communicators in the biological sciences.

Last edited 1 year ago by Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

Generally I am quite proud when I find that I have said things similar to you, because you are so much better informed than I am. But this article is not convincing. It could be summarised as ‘We are the authorities, and we say that virology is a good thing, so leave us to do our work in peace’. Which may be true, but which does not address the actual problems.

When people say ‘gain-of-function research’ what they actually mean is engineering particularly dangerous pathogens for research purposes. Possibly the term technically includes using phages to improve electricity transmission in computers (etc.) and surely that is a ‘good thing’ – but it is irrelevant because that is not what people are (quite understandably) worried about. In effect it is a strawman argument.

Similarly, it is beside the point to give the long list of formal safeguards and permissions required to make certain virology experiments in the US. What people actually worry about is not whether there is a safety bureaucracy in place, but whether the scientists (and bureaucrats) involved are getting it right and respecting the necessary precautions, or whether they just pay lip service and try to find a way to get around the rules and do what they feel they should be doing. In particular, boasting of US safety protocols is not a good answer to those who claim that US researchers may deliberately have promoted – and funded – research in China exactly because that made it possible to do research that was not allowed under US rules.

The paper concludes that “Regulations that are redundant with current practice or overly cumbersome will lead to unwarranted constraints on pandemic preparation and response and could leave humanity more vulnerable to future disease outbreaks.” In itself that is a platitude. But it rather translates as ‘We are already being sufficiently careful on our own initiative, and you had better not limit our freedom to work, because that will lose you the very important fruits of our research’. Which may very well be true, but the problem is exactly that some people doubt whether the research community – or parts of it – has its priorities right and can be trusted to make these decisions without more oversight. The paper is arguing for freedom to continue as before without actually addressing the real preoccupations this raises. That approach decreases trust, rather than increasing it. If they want to be trusted to continue – and quite likely that is the best thing to do – they would be better advised to take people’s worries seriously and address them directly.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie K

Personally I think the term “gain of function research” is a very unforutnate term given all the baggage it has acquired over the last 3 years.
For a better understanding of what this research is for and the benefits that accrue one would be better off reading :
Virology under the Microscope—a Call for Rational Discourse Jan 2023
https://journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/jvi.00089-23
Everything from pepped up oncolytic viruses, to faster computers using improved electrical conductance facilitated by an engineered M13 bacteriophage to increased nitrogen fixation by plants using a manipulated Klebsiella etc…etc.
All of these are “gain of function”
Also, as this paper points out, “Gain-of-function research with pathogens of pandemic potential established that avian influenza viruses have the capacity to acquire mammalian transmissibility and that bat-associated coronaviruses posed a danger to humans, years before COVID-19”

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Thanks for this, and to others who’ve added to the understanding of a layperson with regard to the methodologies employed by virologists.
Greater clarity is never wasted.

Stevie K
Stevie K
1 year ago

Isn’t the genome sequencing and monitoring of potentially dangerous viruses, sensible as that is, a very different thing to active gain of function research?

Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

It is now obvious that the total responsibility for this disaster lies 100% with the Chinese Communist Party.
China lied to its own people in January, claiming the virus was not infectious. Then it silenced doctors in Wuhan from telling the truth about the virus and pressurised the WHO into agreeing it was not a dangerous epidemic. Chinese Communist Party officials then ordered the destruction of laboratory samples, while insisting there was no contagion. (The Sunday Times Nov 15 2020).
Knowing all this it allowed thousands of Chinese to return after the New Year to work and study in Europe and elsewhere, thus unleashing a global epidemic.
Whether this virus was unleashed in China by accident or design, you have to ask yourselves this: Who profits?
The economies of the Western world have been seriously damaged, confidence in governments shaken, there’s social instability, health systems at breaking point in many countries and there have been millions of unavoidable deaths. And all without one bullet having been fired.
Sun Tzu the Chinese general, military strategist, author of The Art of War, would have been impressed. 
 

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The elites envision a world where only they get to travel, eat proper food, heat their homes, drive their cars and have children. They want an underclass as slaves. If the slaves continue to ‘over-breed’ and vote against the aims of the elite class, a deadly virus released into the masses will distract them from wanting democracy and freedom . That’s why they are researching such viruses. They will need an antidote for themselves thus the trials of new vaccines on the plebs.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The only plausible answer is, surely, weaponisation?

Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

An excellent read! I think the immediate total shut down of the Wuhan population gave the game away! The meticulously researched ‘Viral – The Search for the Origin of Covid-19” (Alina Chan and Matt Ridley’) also makes a compelling case pointing to weaponisation.

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Why? Essentially as I understand it. Develop a better bullet so you can develop a better bullet proof vest.
Fauci has said that if you you didn’t do GOF tests you couldn’t develop the flu vaccine.
Why China?
More bang for your buck.
Less regulation than US – probably not got go ahead in US (obviously rightly).
All configured to do in lab.

As I remember it the guy from Kings College (a specialist in this area) pointed out that just because they didn’t get the original funding doesn’t mean they didn’t do it. This happens all the time in such research. He also said ( this was several years back) that it was likely a lab leak because the virus had changed in a way that was very unlikely to have happened in the wild.
Would I trust China to do this testing ?
Obviously not – what sane person who cared anything about other people would?

Last edited 1 year ago by Isabel Ward
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

GOF work is supposed to arrive at a vaccine before the created virus can leap from an animal host. Nicholas Wade reported that the GOF work was being done at a lessor safety level than recommended; thus, a possible leak. If science is allowed to dabble in such efforts, the highest possible safety level in certified facilities should be required.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

For selling vaccines?

Last edited 1 year ago by Fran Martinez
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences =
Porton Down. QED?

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

As for the “why” – scientists have great trouble asking the question WHETHER something should be done; if it’s possible, the scientific imperative is to do it.
You can see this in the testimony of the Nazi doctors justifying their horrific experiments: Scientific knowledge ranks higher than human life. This is a problem medicine has grappled with since at least the Middle Ages, and is a key reason why the Nuremberg Code explicitly sets out the opposite position.
The question of “whether” is not raised in STEM education. You need the humanities for that. Stop teaching the humanities, and we’ll lose just that.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The Chinese Government was trusted to carry out the programme because they have less concern for their own environment and for their own people. The fallacy in the position of people such as Fauci who collaborated with the Chinese Government is that the escaped virus spread globally. Presumably these people thought that any escape of a virus could be controlled.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Why China? Because they now have a practical monopoly on animal based research.

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

In 2020 Fauci and Collins suppressed the Great Barrington Declaration, a prospectus for how to respond to Covid. It recommended targeted care and support for the vulnerable (obese, compromised immune, fragile), and advocated that the rest of us should go on with our lives, keep the lights on. It turns out the pandemic was more of a panic demic–fueled by Fauci’s single minded desire to enrich big pharma by insisting that vaccines were the only sensible approach. We now know he was lying and self serving.
Covid disinformation, fueled by in-the-toilet, servile media panic, was the dress rehearsal for crowd control–for compelling frightened surrender to the lies. This surrender helped pave the way for the current wave of disinformation regarding NATO’s, and America’s provocation of Putin, all in the interest of empire. And as with Covid, we see many here and elsewhere spouting those lies fed to them by a media that is no longer interested in bringing truth to power. Truly, the West is busy destroying itself as we speak, and much of this can be traced back to the Covid overkill.
A final note. Covid was a disease, an affliction like a flu. It sweeps away the vulnerable, but over 90% of those who caught it experience mild symptoms. The danger it presented did not justify masks, shutdowns and all the rest.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

V much agree. Excellent article.
As regards was it part of a deliberate biological ‘weaponisation’ strategy, we just don’t know. Might possibly be some free-lancing, unchecked scientists in that lab but CCP tentacles run deep so wouldn’t they have known and tacitly approved?
One suspects the reluctance to state it was a distinct possibility part of the embedded western Group-think that has wanted to believe the CCP is/was not as malign a force as it is. We are now awakening at apace over so many domains of western life. Let us hope it is not too late.
The lack of transparency is most acute as regards the CCP and the blanket resistance to a proper investigation. Farrar et al do now seem compromised but the bigger demon here must be seen as the CCP.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The explanation I read somewhere is that by creating a more dangerous virus the researchers could then find a way to kill that virus, and that way could also be used to kill less dangerous viruses. The great danger in this approach is that they may create a very dangerous virus and not find a way to kill it, especially risky if the virus escaped from the lab.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Much is said about the Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli but the American Ralph Baric was also heavily involved in Gain of function research even more so I would say. Here in an interview he talks about his Gain of Function work and their quest for super viruses.
https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/07/26/1030043/gain-of-function-research-coronavirus-ralph-baric-vaccines/
How many of you are also aware of the fact that virologists have been able to recreate the Avian flu virus of 1918 from permanently frozen people that died of the virus. Why? Because they wanted to understand why it was so lethal.
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/reconstruction-1918-virus.html

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Farrar and Fauci, Redfield and Collins have committed crimes against humanity. They should be treated as such.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Chinese and Americans

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

So that thy know what to look for (as part of general genomic surveillance of possible pathogens) in terms of genomic sequences that may produce a potentially harmful pathogen for animals that we use for food or for ourselves.
This is the main purpose of what is called “gain of function research “. It’s an early warning system for the next pandemic.
Like an asteroid watch.

Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

It is now obvious that the total responsibility for this disaster lies 100% with the Chinese Communist Party.
China lied to its own people in January, claiming the virus was not infectious. Then it silenced doctors in Wuhan from telling the truth about the virus and pressurised the WHO into agreeing it was not a dangerous epidemic. Chinese Communist Party officials then ordered the destruction of laboratory samples, while insisting there was no contagion. (The Sunday Times Nov 15 2020).
Knowing all this it allowed thousands of Chinese to return after the New Year to work and study in Europe and elsewhere, thus unleashing a global epidemic.
Whether this virus was unleashed in China by accident or design, you have to ask yourselves this: Who profits?
The economies of the Western world have been seriously damaged, confidence in governments shaken, there’s social instability, health systems at breaking point in many countries and there have been millions of unavoidable deaths. And all without one bullet having been fired.
Sun Tzu the Chinese general, military strategist, author of The Art of War, would have been impressed. 
 

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The elites envision a world where only they get to travel, eat proper food, heat their homes, drive their cars and have children. They want an underclass as slaves. If the slaves continue to ‘over-breed’ and vote against the aims of the elite class, a deadly virus released into the masses will distract them from wanting democracy and freedom . That’s why they are researching such viruses. They will need an antidote for themselves thus the trials of new vaccines on the plebs.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

This article represents everything that journalism should be: open-minded, exacting, thorough and above all – at least as far as it’s possible to discern – independent.

Any UK government that signs up to unfettered liability to the dictates of the WHO under the likes of Farrar deserves to be condemned, as history surely will condemn.

One simple but chilling question stands out. Why – for what purpose – would scientists wish to bio-engineer a form of virus designed specifically to overcome our bodies defences? Perhaps some scientists among Unherd readers could put forward a valid research explanation.

And moreover: why would anyone trust the Chinese to carry out that programme?

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago

The tragedy is that none of these people, Farrar, Fauci and Collins will ever be held to account. Instead they are lauded with prizes and awards from august bodies such as the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society. and what’s worse is that those august bodies are full on supportive of the regime that was imposed in the US and UK (lockdowns, masks, vaccine mandates, school closures, etc….)
Perhaps even worse is that half the population, at least in the US, and perhaps even in the UK, are still fully supportive of the Government’s actions vis a vis Covid.

Last edited 1 year ago by Johann Strauss
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Mind-boggling, isn’t it? Even in the face of all the evidence, there remain those convinced it was for the greater good, nothing sinister was occurring, and suspicion about government intentions is mad tin foil hattery. I raised a skeptical right eyebrow back in early 2020 when our weirdo neighbor was going house to house handing out masks she made from old bathing suits. Gahhhh! Never wore one in any form, didn’t lock down, didn’t get the shot, and – surprise! – didn’t get the d*mn Chinese flu.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Presumably you live in a fairly ‘civilised’ bit of the States Ms Barrows?

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

You would be correct, Sir. Moved from New England to Florida’s Gulf Coast at the height of the madness two years ago and haven’t looked back.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Excellent, I have an old friend who recently moved from near Seattle to Naples, Florida and loves it!

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Very cool – and smart. We’re in a beautiful village just above Naples – itself a stunner of a city. Such a terrible shame that those of us who loved our former homes (my family had been in New England since 1634), had to leave because of disastrous mismanagement by political opportunists in the pay of ideologues.
If you visit your friend in Naples – and I strongly suggest you do – I have a few places on it’s gorgeous Fifth Avenue where we could meet for a drink!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Thank you so much, I shall remember that.
If it’s any comfort things are just as bad over at present.

However I sense things maybe changing. Ironically it maybe in Sweden where the ‘fight back’ begins.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Thank you so much, I shall remember that.
If it’s any comfort things are just as bad over at present.

However I sense things maybe changing. Ironically it maybe in Sweden where the ‘fight back’ begins.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Very cool – and smart. We’re in a beautiful village just above Naples – itself a stunner of a city. Such a terrible shame that those of us who loved our former homes (my family had been in New England since 1634), had to leave because of disastrous mismanagement by political opportunists in the pay of ideologues.
If you visit your friend in Naples – and I strongly suggest you do – I have a few places on it’s gorgeous Fifth Avenue where we could meet for a drink!

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago

Well that explains that! I hear they add something to the water in Florida, which would explain the derangement syndrome affecting many Floridians.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

You’re very welcome not to visit.

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago

Been there, done that.

Last edited 1 year ago by Danielle Treille
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Swallowed the t-shirt?

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Nope, didn’t drink the Kool-Aid either.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Your response, by way of a trite slogan, rather suggests your did (swallow the t-shirt).

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Your response, by way of a trite slogan, rather suggests your did (swallow the t-shirt).

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Nope, didn’t drink the Kool-Aid either.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Swallowed the t-shirt?

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago

Been there, done that.

Last edited 1 year ago by Danielle Treille
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

You’re very welcome not to visit.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Excellent, I have an old friend who recently moved from near Seattle to Naples, Florida and loves it!

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago

Well that explains that! I hear they add something to the water in Florida, which would explain the derangement syndrome affecting many Floridians.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

You would be correct, Sir. Moved from New England to Florida’s Gulf Coast at the height of the madness two years ago and haven’t looked back.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Presumably you live in a fairly ‘civilised’ bit of the States Ms Barrows?

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

And the same people who supported these actions are the ones demanding we grovel and apologize for every failure of government in the past.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

“Perhaps even worse is that half the population, at least in the US, and perhaps even in the UK, are still fully supportive of the Government’s actions vis a vis Covid.”

Yes, absolutely terrifying, but at the same time somewhat satisfying to realise that at least 50% of Western Society are nothing less than worthless, verminous dross. It rather reinforces what BR said many years ago:- “Most people would rather die than think and MOST do!”

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

A bit savage on the verminous dross side today Mr Stanhope. That is half of society.
I like your rather die than think quote though.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Yes agreed, too much Merlot after a long day in ‘the field’!

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Thought I’d antagonise you a bit, I’m on the gin. I know you like to exercise your freedom of speech. I appreciate that.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

‘In vino veritas’ as the Ancients would say!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

‘In vino veritas’ as the Ancients would say!

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Thought I’d antagonise you a bit, I’m on the gin. I know you like to exercise your freedom of speech. I appreciate that.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Yes agreed, too much Merlot after a long day in ‘the field’!

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

A bit savage on the verminous dross side today Mr Stanhope. That is half of society.
I like your rather die than think quote though.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Mind-boggling, isn’t it? Even in the face of all the evidence, there remain those convinced it was for the greater good, nothing sinister was occurring, and suspicion about government intentions is mad tin foil hattery. I raised a skeptical right eyebrow back in early 2020 when our weirdo neighbor was going house to house handing out masks she made from old bathing suits. Gahhhh! Never wore one in any form, didn’t lock down, didn’t get the shot, and – surprise! – didn’t get the d*mn Chinese flu.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

And the same people who supported these actions are the ones demanding we grovel and apologize for every failure of government in the past.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

“Perhaps even worse is that half the population, at least in the US, and perhaps even in the UK, are still fully supportive of the Government’s actions vis a vis Covid.”

Yes, absolutely terrifying, but at the same time somewhat satisfying to realise that at least 50% of Western Society are nothing less than worthless, verminous dross. It rather reinforces what BR said many years ago:- “Most people would rather die than think and MOST do!”

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago

The tragedy is that none of these people, Farrar, Fauci and Collins will ever be held to account. Instead they are lauded with prizes and awards from august bodies such as the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society. and what’s worse is that those august bodies are full on supportive of the regime that was imposed in the US and UK (lockdowns, masks, vaccine mandates, school closures, etc….)
Perhaps even worse is that half the population, at least in the US, and perhaps even in the UK, are still fully supportive of the Government’s actions vis a vis Covid.

Last edited 1 year ago by Johann Strauss
Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

An absolute tour de force.

Brilliantly written.

Wish more journalists were like Ian Birrell.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

An absolute tour de force.

Brilliantly written.

Wish more journalists were like Ian Birrell.

Nic Cowper
Nic Cowper
1 year ago

Farrar, at the head of WHO, this despot leading an unelected body which world governments have handed unprecedented power to? What could possibly go wrong? I am ashamed of my once most admired scientific body, Wellcome Trust, and terrified for the future. Somebody do something! Quick!

Nic Cowper
Nic Cowper
1 year ago

Farrar, at the head of WHO, this despot leading an unelected body which world governments have handed unprecedented power to? What could possibly go wrong? I am ashamed of my once most admired scientific body, Wellcome Trust, and terrified for the future. Somebody do something! Quick!

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

The Guardian abandoned impartiality in favour of ideology, long ago. It is the nearest equivalent to that old Soviet chestnut, that there is no truth in The Truth and no news in The News; The Guardian does not guard us.

Last edited 1 year ago by ben arnulfssen
Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

Actually the joke was: there’s no truth in Izvestia (News) and no news in Pravda (Truth).

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

I read a Guardian article online from 2005 on libertarian bloggers. I’ve always found the paper, and its politics, risible but blimey! This piece was almost balanced. Readable. Well-written. 2005 is another planet as far as the Guardian is concerned.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

Actually the joke was: there’s no truth in Izvestia (News) and no news in Pravda (Truth).

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

I read a Guardian article online from 2005 on libertarian bloggers. I’ve always found the paper, and its politics, risible but blimey! This piece was almost balanced. Readable. Well-written. 2005 is another planet as far as the Guardian is concerned.

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

The Guardian abandoned impartiality in favour of ideology, long ago. It is the nearest equivalent to that old Soviet chestnut, that there is no truth in The Truth and no news in The News; The Guardian does not guard us.

Last edited 1 year ago by ben arnulfssen
Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago

Paradigmatically panning out it seems to me is a science versus nature world in which the former will be said to protect us from the latter. Think agriculture (GMs, pesticides, lab meat), weather (geo engineering), health (natural immune systems overridden by a gene therapy platform) and accommodation (surveilled human settlement zones resembling ICU) and ‘out there’ a nightmarish world of germs and primitives that must get on with it. If so the new appointee to lead the science desk at the WHO makes every sense.

Last edited 1 year ago by Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago

Paradigmatically panning out it seems to me is a science versus nature world in which the former will be said to protect us from the latter. Think agriculture (GMs, pesticides, lab meat), weather (geo engineering), health (natural immune systems overridden by a gene therapy platform) and accommodation (surveilled human settlement zones resembling ICU) and ‘out there’ a nightmarish world of germs and primitives that must get on with it. If so the new appointee to lead the science desk at the WHO makes every sense.

Last edited 1 year ago by Hendrik Mentz
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

The incestuous relationship between the regime media, the technocrats and elected leaders is the biggest threat to democracy.

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You forgot the lizard people…

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

Don’t be silly. There IS a very cushy relationship at the moment between governments, big tech, academe, NGOs and non-profits, and, most damningly, the media (which I worked in for 2 decades), that is pushing various agendas, withholding information and causing great harm. Noting that has nothing to do with Lizard People, David Icke or anything else. The media in particular is entirely corrupted and has abandoned its core mission of informing the public dispassionately with accurate, unbiased information.

Last edited 1 year ago by harry storm
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

People need to remember that Britain has by far the most diverse media in the Anglosphere. In Canada. Australia and even the US, the regime media are virtually all the same and share the same ideology.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

People need to remember that Britain has by far the most diverse media in the Anglosphere. In Canada. Australia and even the US, the regime media are virtually all the same and share the same ideology.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

Don’t be silly. There IS a very cushy relationship at the moment between governments, big tech, academe, NGOs and non-profits, and, most damningly, the media (which I worked in for 2 decades), that is pushing various agendas, withholding information and causing great harm. Noting that has nothing to do with Lizard People, David Icke or anything else. The media in particular is entirely corrupted and has abandoned its core mission of informing the public dispassionately with accurate, unbiased information.

Last edited 1 year ago by harry storm
Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You forgot the lizard people…

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

The incestuous relationship between the regime media, the technocrats and elected leaders is the biggest threat to democracy.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago

I didn’t bother to read the article, I mean, what’s the point? If you do not know the scene at this point you have basically slept through WWIII – although it has been, Is, 5th Generation warfare so no bombs. And thenï»ż conducted against its own citizens and the world by social media, the education and entertainment industries, the pharma/Bio industry, the MSM & Social media, the CCP, Government Spook Agencies, government Deep State, the Uni-party Con and Labour parties, the King (deep WEF), the Health providers, and so on…

Anyway – Covid 19 is a Bio Weapon, as is the vax, come from Western secret Security Agencies, DOD, and the lizards like Gates, Schwab, Fink, Soros, WHO, IMF, and the evil head of the Welcome Trust (which is its self evil on line with the Bill and Melinda Gates eugenics council) and the CCP too… wow.. we are F__*ed

You lost, by the way. Soon the world will collapse into a horrendous depression – that being the point of all this (and the Ukraine war too). If you do not have your stash of gold, your 50 kg of rice and dried beans, couple crates of canned food, toilet paper, fire wood, and a butcher knife lashed on the end of a stick (defense, in the absence of a second amendment) then you have not been paying attention.

P.S. I am currently reading Churchill’s history of the English speaking peoples, and am on the Plantagenets…. Oh, how I wish they were on the throne. The traitors who have done this would get what they so justly deserve. What a pathetic Government we have! Biden, Boris, Sunak and the worms Hunt and Fauci…….and the rest – all of them almost – all dirty rats.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Having read your own opening line about not bothering to read the article, you’ll permit me the precious time saved in not bothering to read your repetitive blather.

Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I did the same!

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I’m drawn to Bjorn’s apocalyptic vision and so read much truth in his cris de cƓur. But I agree, he should take the trouble to read before commenting because survival will require more than dried beans, toilet paper and a butcher knife. We need first to find one another.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

I’m here, and I’m armed.

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago

Well you would be…

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago

Well you would be…

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

I’m here, and I’m armed.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Blather can make for a good read.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

I know where you’re coming from, but not the same read multiple times over.

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I share views, of course, and since people like us are vastly outnumbered, vastly, by the herd, his “blather” merits frequent repeating.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

He sounds like a programmed chatbot. Ticks all the boxes. Like all insane conspiracy theories, it contains the odd kernel of truth here and there. The style reminds me of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s brilliant Illuminatus trilogy, but of course that was satire.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

He sounds like a programmed chatbot. Ticks all the boxes. Like all insane conspiracy theories, it contains the odd kernel of truth here and there. The style reminds me of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s brilliant Illuminatus trilogy, but of course that was satire.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

There is a fine line, isn’t there?

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I share views, of course, and since people like us are vastly outnumbered, vastly, by the herd, his “blather” merits frequent repeating.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

There is a fine line, isn’t there?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

I know where you’re coming from, but not the same read multiple times over.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I enjoy his almost eschatological doom-mongering and seek out his posts on each and every article. Within such angry replies tends to be something at least approaching an essential truth.

Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I did the same!

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I’m drawn to Bjorn’s apocalyptic vision and so read much truth in his cris de cƓur. But I agree, he should take the trouble to read before commenting because survival will require more than dried beans, toilet paper and a butcher knife. We need first to find one another.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Blather can make for a good read.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I enjoy his almost eschatological doom-mongering and seek out his posts on each and every article. Within such angry replies tends to be something at least approaching an essential truth.

Fredrich Nicecar
Fredrich Nicecar
1 year ago