The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, has sensationally claimed Covid may have leaked out of a US lab.
Unveiling its results of a two-year investigation into the origins of the pandemic, the magazine’s team tasked with uncovering the truth stated it was ‘plausible’ the virus could have emerged in America.
It echoes the rhetoric of Beijing’s disinformation crusade, which attempted to divert attention away from the infamous Wuhan site by pointing the finger at a military base in Maryland.
While mentioning the secretive laboratory located just miles away from the ‘ground zero’ of the pandemic, it said independent teams have also ‘not yet investigated’ US labs.
Authors argued the country’s National Institute for Health — responsible for carrying out research into some of the world’s deadliest pathogens — had ‘resisted disclosing details’ of its work.
Even when discussing the possibility the virus emerged naturally from an animal, the Lancet team said this may be in a creature located ‘outside of China’.
Virologists told how they were ‘shocked at how fragrantly’ the report ignored crucial evidence regarding the virus’s source. It was described as one of the Lancet’s ‘most shameful moments’.
Pictured: The Wuhan Institute of Virology, where crucial data was reportedly wiped by Chinese scientists
It is not the first time the 198-year-old journal, under the leadership of editor-in-chief Richard Horton, has been accused of supporting China’s narrative that Covid did not emerge in its borders.
Just as Covid started to spread, the journal published a letter from 27 experts which praised Beijing’s ‘rapid, open and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak’.
These authors also attacked what they described as ‘conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid does not have a natural origin’, in a move some saw as a blatant attempt to silence the lab-leak debate.
It has also allegedly reported articles exploring the lab leak hypothesis as ‘false information’ to social media giants and refused to publish articles criticising China’s persecutions of the Uighurs ethnic group.
The author of The Lancet’s Covid-19 Commission report, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, has previously been nicknamed ‘Xi’s propagandist’ over his pro-Beijing comments.
In June, he astonishingly told a conference in Madrid that he was ‘pretty convinced’ the virus was the result of ‘US lab biotechnology’.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs reiterated claims that American — not Chinese — scientists could be responsible for Covid’s creation (pictured here at a conference in Madrid earlier this year)
The Lancet’s editor-in-chief Richard Horton has previously published pieces attacking ‘conspiracy theories’ that Covid could have been leaked from a Chinese lab
His claim was inevitably seized upon by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Government, with officials arguing it warranted a ‘thorough investigation’.
Professor Sachs, who was twice named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, admitted ‘we don’t know for sure’.
‘But there’s enough evidence it should be looked into and it’s not being investigated — not in the US, not anywhere,’ he added. ‘I think for real reasons, they [US officials] don’t want to look under the rug too much.’
Professor Sachs has expressed other controversial pro-Beijing views, dismissing the Government’s genocide of Uighur minority in China’s Northwest.
Last month he appeared on a podcast hosted by Robert F Kennedy Jr a prominent American anti-vaxxer to discuss his views.
Independent virologists said Professor Sachs’s comments and actions had overshadowed the worthy research included in the new 58-page report, which was written by dozens of scientists.
Professor Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Canada, told The Telegraph Professor Sachs’ appearance on anti-vax platforms completely undermined the new report.
‘This may be one of the Lancet’s most shameful moments regarding its role as a steward and leader in communicating crucial findings about science and medicine,’ she said.
Professor David Robertson, director of the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Virus Research, said while there were still answers needed on Covid’s there was zero basis for US involvement.
‘It’s true we’ve details to understand on the side of natural origins, for example the exact intermediate species involved, but that doesn’t mean there’s… any basis to the wild speculation that US labs were involved,’ he added.
Professor Sachs said he stood by his previous comments and he personally oversaw the part of the paper dealing with the emergence of Covid.
Covid’s origins was just one aspect of the report, which warned countries around the word are still unprepared for future pandemics.
China itself has faced several accusations of covering up the origins of Covid.
Researchers are said to have wiped crucial databases and stifled independent investigations into the Wuhan lab.
The virus first began spreading from a wet market in the city of Wuhan, about eight miles from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) which worked with dangerous coronaviruses.
Researchers who fell ill with a mysterious flu-like virus months before the official Covid timeline were reportedly silenced or disappeared.
The lab was known to be conducting experiments on bat coronavirus strains similar to the one responsible for the pandemic in the months before the pandemic.
In public, mainstream media and academics in the West called the lab leak theory an unhinged conspiracy theory.
A disinformation campaign launched by the Chinese Government last year claimed Covid originated from an American military base in Maryland.
It gained significant traction in China but was widely seen as an outlandish counter-claim by the rest of the world.
In June, UK Government sources claimed the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) privately believed Covid started following a leak in China.
While the official WHO line on Covid’s origins is that ‘all hypotheses remain on the table’, the body’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is reported to be giving a different explanation in private.
He was reported to have told a European politician the most likely explanation for the virus’s emergence was a catastrophic accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.
Unlike the UK where almost all pandemic-era restriction on life have been removed, China is still keeping millions of people locked-down in pursuit of a ‘zero-Covid’ strategy.
Some 30 cities in country are in full or partial lockdown as of this month.
China’s official pandemic timeline of the coronavirus pandemic and the evidence that undermines it
Dec 8, 2019 – Earliest date that China has acknowledged an infection
Dec 31 – China first reported ‘pneumonia of unknown cause’ to the World Health Organisation
Jan 1, 2020 – Wuhan seafood market closed for disinfection
Jan 7 – President Xi Jinping discusses coronavirus outbreak with his politburo
Jan 9 – China makes public the genome of the coronavirus
Jan 11 – China reported its first death
Jan 13 – First case outside China is confirmed
Jan 20 – China’s National Health Commission confirms human-to-human transmission
Jan 23 – Wuhan locked down
Jan 31 – WHO declared ‘outbreak of international concern’ as China admitted having thousands of cases
Feb 23 – Italy reports cluster of cases in first major outbreak in the West
May 29 – China claims virus did not originate in wet markets but in Chinese bats before it jumped to humans via an ‘intermediary animal’
July 31 – Chinese researcher admits some coronavirus experiments conducted in lower biosafety labs
Dec 16 – WHO announces it will travel to Wuhan to probe origins of virus in January
Jan 5, 2021 – China denies entry to WHO’s investigatory team
Feb 9 – WHO dismisses theory virus leaked from lab – backs China’s claim it was imported from frozen meat
Mar 28 – Former US national security officials says intel shows ‘there was a direct order from Beijing to destroy all viral samples’ at Wuhan lab
2012: Six miners struck down with with a mysterious flu-like illness in Mojiang cave in Yunnan.
They were found to have been infected with the closest known relative to Covid, sharing 97% of its genes.
Samples RATG13 are sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to be studied.
Sep 2019– Blood samples are taken in a lung cancer screening trial in Italy which later test positive for coronavirus
Oct – Whistleblower Wei Jingsheng claims China deliberately spread Covid at The World Military Games in Wuhan in October, two months before the rest of the world knew about the virus
Oct – Xi Jinping’s authoritarian regime tried desperately to shut down whistle-blowers like Mr Jingsheng. Any references made in social media about a new SARS virus or ‘outbreak’ were censored
Oct-Dec – Rise in ‘flu and pneumonia’ cases in northern Italy which could be linked to coronavirus
Nov – Whistleblower Mr Jingsheng claims he took his concerns about the military games to senior figures within the Trump administration but was ignored
Nov – Intelligence report passed to agencies in Washington claims three members of staff at the Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital treatment in November 2019 after experiencing symptoms consistent with Covid
Nov – Sewage samples taken in Florianópolis, Brazil, suggest virus was present
Nov 10 – Milanese woman has a skin biopsy, producing a sample which later shows signs of the virus
Nov 17 – Leaked documents suggest case detected in China on this date
Dec – Doctors in China, including Li Wenliang, report existance of new type of respiratory infection. But Chinese police arrested him and eight of his colleagues for questioning – instead of publicising reports and warning public
Dec 1 – Chinese researchers report an infection on this date in a peer-reviewed study, but it has not been acknowledged by Beijing
Dec 18 – Sewage samples taken in Milan and Turin suggest virus was circulating in the cities
Dec 26 – Samples analysed suggested a new type of SARS was circulating as early as December 26, but Wuhan was not locked down until January 22
Jan 2020 – Sewage samples from Barcelona suggest virus was in the city
Jan 3 – Covid-19 infections begin sweeping across other nations including the U.S. as the WHO labelled the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern
May – Scientists at a government lab in California concluded that Covid-19 may have escaped from a facility in Wuhan
July – WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said China failed share vital raw data during their investigation in Wuhan. China rebuffed those claims
June 2021: Leading US virus expert Dr Anthony Fauci was warned Covid may have been engineered in a lab, emails publicly released reveal.
August: The world’s first Covid-19 patient may have been infected by a bat while working for a Wuhan lab in China, WHO chief Dr Peter Embarek said
August: A damning report by Republicans in the US claims coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, shortly after the facility tried to improve air safety and waste treatment systems
The report also cited ‘ample evidence’ that lab scientists were working to modify coronaviruses to infect humans and such manipulation could be hidden.
October: US intelligence review into origins of pandemic does not reach a judgement on whether the virus emerged via animal-to-human transmission or a lab leak.
Chinese officials branded the report ‘political and false’.
January 2022: Leaked emails from top UK scientist Sir Jeremy Farrar showed he admitted in February 2020 that it was a ‘likely explanation’ that the virus could be man-made. But he went on to brand the theory a ‘conspiracy’.
February: Sir Farrar is called to be interviewed under oath at the US Congress. Officials want him to explain why he shifted away from the lab leak theory.