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Lab Leak Theory and Anti-China Mania

Chinese police outside of the Wuhan Institute of Technology in China.

Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus make a visit to the institute in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on February 3, 2021. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Originally published on Black Agenda Report.

It has suddenly become popular to say what was once whispered by just a few people. Politicians and the corporate media have now convinced millions of people that the COVID-19 virus was created by experimentation gone awry.

The COVID-19 virus was first observed in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, which is the location of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). The question is whether gain of function research on bat viruses may have accidentally caused the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was all but canonized due to his public conflicts with Donald Trump, is now viewed as a villain because the National Institutes of Health-funded research which took place at WIV. It isn’t clear whether that research can be classified in the gain of function category. Fauci says it wasn’t and others disagree. Yet the disagreement has been given short shrift in favor of sensational headlines, political one-upmanship, and blatant Sinophobia. 

Most virologists still believe that COVID-19 is far more likely to have originated naturally. In addition, tests of wastewater in Spain, Italy, and Brazil indicate that the virus may have existed outside of China before it was observed there in December 2019. The evidence from Spain dates back to March 2019. These reports show the complexity of a true medical mystery. Any evidence of a Wuhan lab leak is circumstantial at best and most scientists have not changed their hypothesis of a natural origin.

There are other dynamics going on here. Fauci has lost some of his luster because of his ties to big pharma and the fact that he owns drug and vaccine patents. He is now a far less popular figure. Republicans eager to rehabilitate Trump grilled Fauci during Senate testimony and reignited the inclination to believe the worst-case scenario.

Of course the Biden administration plays a role by continuing the Trump administration attacks on China. The China is malevolent trope inevitably leads to dubious theories that are given undue credence. 

The U.S. attempt to contain China’s prowess is never far from the surface and any claims of lab leaks should be taken with a grain of salt. A report that three WIV scientists became ill and sought medical care at the same time comes from unnamed and unknown intelligence sources. Skepticism is warranted when the corporate media act like scribes for the surveillance state. 

It is important to remember that COVID-19 origin is not the first communicable disease mystery. The deadly hemorrhagic fever which came to be known as Ebola was first observed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan in 1976. After thousands of cases and years of research, its origin still remains unknown. 

The desire to understand a disease which continues to kill and to upend the lives of people all over the world is understandable. But that is no reason to have amnesia about how the state works and who serves its interests. Joe Biden ordered an investigation of COVID-19 origins which would be conducted by intelligence agencies. Of course, none of the lab leak aficionados bother to mention that the World Health Organization (WHO) is the appropriate entity to investigate and should be permitted to finish its work without political interference.

In any case, how would the CIA manage to conduct an investigation? The Chinese would be foolish to cooperate and inevitably that lack of cooperation would be used against them. The end result would be a kangaroo court and the verdict would be guilty regardless of any evidence presented. 

The sudden respectability granted to this theory also exposes the collusion which regularly takes place between the Democratic Party and big tech social media platforms. Facebook admitted that any mentions of the lab leak theory were being censored until recently. Big tech works hand in hand with the liberal establishment and together they decide what information should and should not be disseminated. Of course media censorship only increases cynicism and makes the public more likely to believe just about anything. Facebook’s admission is proof that the current controversy is the result of a politicized process.

From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we have been admonished to “trust the science.” If the lab leak theory has gained any credibility it is only because the accusations have returned and been amplified by bad actors. Most experts in the field of virology have not changed their minds about natural origin being the most likely explanation. Unless or until new evidence is presented, that is the science that should be trusted.

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Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well at and she regularly posts on Twitter @freedomrideblog. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

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