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Conspiracy Theory to Government Debate: COVID-19 Lab Leak Theory

Megan Hayes | News Editor


Most of what has been plastered all over media platforms as of late has to relate to the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic coming from a lab leak in Wuhan, China. COVID-19, which first emerged and declared an outbreak on January 10th, 2020, rapidly spread across the world and has led to the passing of more than seven million lives globally. As many of us know well and true, COVID caused all activities to come to a grinding halt in March of 2020 in the United States and left most afraid to venture outside for fear of catching the respiratory virus. With the last brush of a pandemic being in 1918 with the Influenza outbreak, there was an immense amount of fear as no one had ever seen anything like this before. This fear, as well as an incessant need to find answers during this seemingly dystopian time, led to a lot of discussion online all over the world. From this came a lot of incorrect information, creating more fear for everyone in the throes of a major life-changing event.

Now, with new information coming out about the possible origin of the COVID-19 virus, things are starting to feel confusing again. The timeline of COVID has been very confusing, but scientists combating the theories of COVID being “naturally made” date back to February of 2021. Through February to May of 2021, many still combatted this idea of the virus being naturally occurring, but since SARS-CoV-2 (origin virus of COVID-19) was found in bats in Thailand, this theory took off and it was widely believed. Shortly after this, a letter was written in the journal Science, stating that the lab leak possibility had not been investigated thoroughly. Fast forward through a handful of back-and-forth—on October 27, 2022, “Senate Republicans release a report saying the “most likely” origin of the coronavirus was a “research-related incident” at a lab in China, pointing to biosafety issues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and a lack of “critical corroborating evidence of a natural zoonotic spillover,” and while “the absence of evidence is not itself evidence,” it is “highly problematic” a natural origin hasn’t been proven three years into the pandemic,” as according to Forbes.com. Now, as of February 26th of 2023, the US Department of Energy has concluded with “low confidence” that COVID-19 originated from a lab.

This is now being debated, as this conspiracy theory has now advanced into a government debate, and the US House of Representatives held the first of many public hearings on March 8th of 2023 to see all possible sides of how this pandemic began. Taken from the press release published on oversight.house.gov are two quotes taken from Dr. Robert Redfield, who was the prior director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


| “I don’t know why the authors didn’t want to state this, they did not want to have the scientific conversation and dialogue, why they wanted to obfuscate and suppress the truth, or even have a debate about the origins of COVID-19."


“Was it for personal financial gain? Was it to hide U.S. financial interest into the Wuhan Institute of Virology indirectly? Was it to suppress the revelation that there was perhaps gain-of-function research that had been prohibited in the United States? Or were they concerned that a conspiracy would develop that it was bioterrorism?"


As of right now, there is no clear answer. More research is needed within the Wuhan Institute of Virology as well as the wet markets in Wuhan that the virus originally supposedly came from. There is more conflict arising on how long this information has taken to surface, and right now the FBI is investigating this further, as well as a 90-day search that has been put into place by Biden’s committee. A summary of this information is given in the press conference from the US House or Representatives: “The scientific community is very afraid to speak up on political issues. I think the reason is that government grants are handed out through the system of peer-reviewed committees. You don’t want any single scientist on your peer-review committee to vote against, because you won’t get your grant – it’s so competitive. Therefore, scientists are very reluctant to say anything that’s politically divisive or turn other scientists off against them. This means that they cannot be relied upon in the way that we would like them to be independent and forthright and call it as they see it.”

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