More Scientists Call for Lab Leak COVID-19 Origin Investigation

A group of 30 respected scientists argue that the Chinese government has stonewalled a thorough investigation into the origin of COVID-19. There should be consequences, they suggest.

What began as a theory that dare not speak its name lest one be labeled a conspiracy crank, has become what might be the major news story of the century. And what could possibly eclipse COVID-19 as the major news story? Well, finding a definitive answer to the question: Exactly where did the spikey little ball that upended our world and killed millions of people and disabled millions more (the damage will be tallied for decades) come from?

As Infection Control Today® (ICT®) reported in May, what helped to drag the possibility that COVID-19 was caused by a lab leak in Wuhan, China, into the mainstream media was an open letter in The Lancet by a group of respected scientists who argued that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which runs China, prevented a delegation from the World Health Organization (WHO) from fully considering a lab leak as a plausible scenario. (Amnesty International ranks China as one of the more repressive regimes in the world and says that it became even more repressive in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.)

Now, another open letter—called the Paris Letter—dated this Wednesday goes even further with a demand for an investigation into a possible lab leak that should be conducted either with or without China’s cooperation. It was written by another group of 30 respected and highly credential scientists, and this time the scientists take direct aim at the CCP.

“The measures taken by the Chinese government to hide the origins, and stop Chinese experts from sharing certain essential information and detailed data clearly show that the current process, without significant changes, has no chance of putting a complete or credible inquiry in place for all possible scenarios,” the Paris Letter states. (The letter was sent to Le Figaro, the largest newspaper in France. That account is behind a firewall but another French media outlet, The Connexion, does a nice job summarizing it here.)

And what if the CCP stonewalls a thorough investigation into the origin of COVID-19 yet again? Then it’s time to play hardball. The scientists argue that if China doesn’t cooperate, an international investigation be launched by institutions with worldwide clout such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the Group of Seven Industrial Countries (G7).

“A well-organized and concerted effort, free of interference, drawing on all available sources of information and involving a large number of experts, may well end up providing unambiguous evidence supporting one particular hypothesis regarding the origins of the pandemic,” the letter states.

They add that a “great number of very pertinent details can be collected without the participation of the Chinese authorities. Many governmental and individual scientists across the world have already gathered, and started to analyze, significant quantities of pertinent data.”

The scientists who wrote the letter to The Lancet back in May took pains to acknowledge the brave Chinese scientists and health care experts who tried to get to the bottom of the COVID-19 origin story. The Lancet letter writers also noted the fear that some have that a full investigation might fuel an anti-Asian backlash. 

“Finally, in this time of unfortunate anti-Asian sentiment in some countries, we note that at the beginning of the pandemic, it was Chinese doctors, scientists, journalists, and citizens who shared with the world crucial information about the spread of the virus—often at great personal cost,” the scientists who wrote the open letter to The Lancet stated. “We should show the same determination in promoting a dispassionate science-based discourse on this difficult but important issue.”

The scientists of the Paris Letter also pay homage to the Chinese scientists who want to find the truth. “The measures taken by the Chinese government to hide the origins, and stop Chinese experts from sharing certain essential information and detailed data clearly show that the current process, without significant changes, has no chance of putting a complete or credible inquiry in place for all possible scenarios,” the Paris Letter states.

In ICT®’s report on The Lancet article back in May, Kevin Kavanagh, MD, a member of ICT®’s Editorial Advisory Board, referred to what he described as a “chilling article” by authors affiliated with China's National Institutes for Food and Drug Control (NIFDC) and WHO Collaborating Center for Standardization and Evaluation of Biologicals.

“This article describes a plethora of single amino acid substitutions in the spike protein from 106 pseudo-virus which resulted in ‘ten mutations such as N234Q, L452R, A475V, and V483A was markedly resistant to some mAbs’ and that ‘the dominant D614G itself and combined with other mutations are more infectious.’”

The D614G variant was the dominant variant in the United States in 2020.