Scientists speak out about how they were ignored, even silenced, when they suggested a lab leak in 2020

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Scientists speak out about how they were ignored, even silenced, when they suggested a lab leak in 2020

Speaking to Fox News, scientists from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Israel and Australia have recounted that it was difficult to publish research abo

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Speaking to Fox News, scientists from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Israel and Australia have recounted that it was difficult to publish research about the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic began due to a lab leak, and that they found themselves shunned by other scientists, even when those scientists themselves found the lab-leak theory plausible.

“We got our heads shot from every direction, from people who we now know were actually thinking exactly the same thing, but have chosen to say the opposite,” Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor of medicine at Flinders University in Australia, told Fox News Digital.

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The scientists speaking to Fox News claimed that others in the field were desperate to protect the scientific community – and funding – so they coalesced around the single idea that a lab leak would have hurt their work, and the community. The scientists who supported the theory had research papers rejected, and the media branded them conspiracy theorists.

Peter Daszak and Thea Fischer, members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), sit in a car arriving at Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 3, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Peter Daszak and Thea Fischer, members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), sit in a car arriving at Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 3, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Lord Matt Ridley, author of the book “Viral: The Search for the Origin of COVID-19,” told Fox News that funding was also a motive for silence. “Senior scientists were quietly saying to me, ‘We think you’re right that it does need to be taken seriously, but we don’t say so because the funding agencies might give us a hard time.'”

The lab leak theory has now become mainstream, but for a long time most outspoken scientists rejected it, including those at the very top. German physicist Roland Wiesendanger called this move a betrayal of science.

“If famous and top virologists are not sticking to the truth anymore, then we have no basis in science anymore to make progress,” Wiesendanger told Fox News Digital. 

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Wiesendanger warned that scientists often believe they have a license to do whatever research they like, regardless of the risk – in the name of science.

“There were always scientists saying that scientists should be able to do anything, whatever is in their imagination,” the German physicist said. “They should be able to do this no matter what the concerns are from other scientists or the general public.”

There was also a fear that if COVID-19 was the result of this risky gain-of-function research, science itself would be harmed, the scientists explained.

“When they show that science could create something so malicious, this is a very big obstacle for the scientific community because it actually proves that science can do something that could be very violent and wrong,” Israeli biotechnologist Ronen Shemesh told Fox News Digital.

Shemesh and others said it is a major concern that little has changed – gain-of-function research continues, both in the U.S. and abroad. Some say the research has actually picked up and there are growing calls for international regulations to monitor it. At the moment, regulations vary from country to country. 

Despite plenty of evidence that a lab leak was highly likely, even established medical journals refused to publish the scientists’ work.

Zhu Ting and Zhao Shuai, of China, carry their country's flag during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Zhu Ting and Zhao Shuai, of China, carry their country’s flag during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Petrovsky – who with the help of Oracle– used their super computers to map the virus, thereby showing that it likely came from a lab – said he received blanket rejections from editors at medical journals who called his work “too hot to handle.”

He was also told it would harm relations with China – a country that has such a huge influence over the medical community and research papers.

“There was a concern about offending China,” Petrovsky said. “And obviously, there are a lot of links with China within science, and people didn’t want to upset that relationship”

Although the evidence grew, the mainstream media rejected them, too.

Lord Ridley told Fox News Digital, “You weren’t allowed to discuss this possibility on Facebook. Wikipedia pretty well censored it. And the New York Times and other outlets basically said that’s a conspiracy theory that’s been already debunked.”

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As the silence continued through 2020, many said it all was political. “They feared this might help former President Donald Trump,” Shemesh said.

The scientists expressed hope, however. Now that the idea of a lab leak has become more mainstream, that may spark investigations into the origins of the virus and, just as importantly, the way it was handled. There have already been numerous bipartisan calls for inquires.

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