2021-01-23

‘The Lab-Leak Hypothesis’

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Nicholson Baker, writing for New York:

What happened was fairly simple, I’ve come to believe. It was an
accident. A virus spent some time in a laboratory, and eventually
it got out. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, began its
existence inside a bat, then it learned how to infect people in a
claustrophobic mine shaft, and then it was made more infectious in
one or more laboratories, perhaps as part of a scientist’s
well-intentioned but risky effort to create a broad-spectrum
vaccine. SARS-2 was not designed as a biological weapon. But it
was, I think, designed. […]

But I keep returning to the basic, puzzling fact: This patchwork
pathogen, which allegedly has evolved without human meddling,
first came to notice in the only city in the world with a
laboratory that was paid for years by the U.S. government to
perform experiments on certain obscure and heretofore unpublicized
strains of bat viruses — which bat viruses then turned out to be,
out of all the organisms on the planet, the ones that are most
closely related to the disease. What are the odds?

A riveting, compelling, deeply researched read.