Since before the the 12-nation team of scientists visited Wuhan, China, earlier this year in an attempt to discover the origins of the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, Western nations and corporate media outlets were claiming China would block their efforts, reviving politically useful but scientifically discredited conspiracy theories.
In the wake of the World Health Organization (WHO) team’s report from Wuhan on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the US and its allies have cried foul, claiming the Chinese government fouled their investigation after it failed to point the finger at Beijing. However, the scientists who led the probe are now pushing back, saying their academic report has unnecessarily become a political football.
“Multiple attacks daily, demonstrably false, but gullible followers believe them.” That’s how Peter Daszak, a New York-based zoologist who was part of the international team of scientists that visited China’s Hubei Province earlier this year, described the reactions of “a gang of right-wing media outlets” on Twitter on Wednesday.
“Real issue is that this undermines science and ironically puts US citizens at risk by leading us into rabbit hole conspiracies instead of better understanding of how to prevent pandemics,” he added.
The WHO’s report, released on Tuesday, gave the theory the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology the least credence of the four theories it examined, calling it “extremely unlikely,” but noting that “more timely and comprehensive data” is needed to draw firmer conclusions. The other three theories – direct and intermediate zoonotic spillover and cold food chain transmission – are all considered somewhere between possible and very likely. They also raised an additional possible vector: the 7th Military World Games, a huge military sports event Wuhan hosted in October 2019, two months before the first cases of the virus were detected.