Technology futurist and geopolitical knowledgeable Jamie Metzl believes the COVID-19 pandemic was a “totally preventable event” and is looking for a full and unrestricted worldwide forensic investigation into the origins of COVID-19, lest a fair worse catastrophe happen in the future.1
In the interview above, which reveals a clip from the Joe Rogan Experience, he explains why he believes the almost certainly state of affairs is that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, accidently leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
A extra in-depth rationalization will be present in an open letter,2 of which Metzl was the lead drafter, which states that discovering the true origins of SARS-CoV-2 is critically vital to not solely tackle the present pandemic however to scale back the danger of pandemics of the future.
Problems With COVID Origins From the Start
In 2019, Metzl was appointed to the World Health Organization knowledgeable advisory committee on human genome enhancing.3 This is vital as a result of, as Metzl himself acknowledged, he’s a supporter of WHO.
Yet, even he acknowledged there’s a “big problem,” and it started in the earliest days of the pandemic, when WHO inspectors weren’t capable of go to Wuhan, China, to correctly examine as a result of the Chinese authorities wouldn’t give them visas.4
WHO has primarily been parroting the rhetoric of the Chinese authorities as a result of they don’t have authority to have their very own surveillance community in the space. It’s problematic, too, as a result of WHO is being tasked with investigating and doubtlessly calling out China, which is one of their member states — a member state with quite a bit of affect.
Metzl states that the unintentional laboratory leak speculation is a logical conclusion for a quantity of causes. “The evidence is actually really strong,” he stated. “It’s all circumstantial evidence, but we don’t have ANY evidence of the other hypotheses of where COVID comes from, like a series of different jumps through animals in the wild.”5
On the opposite, Peter Daszak, EcoHealth Alliance president who can be half of the WHO workforce investigating the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and has a protracted historical past of shut ties to the Chinese laboratory in query — the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) — advised The Associated Press in November 2020 that SARS-CoV-2 might have handed from a wildlife poacher to a dealer who introduced it to Wuhan.6
Others have additionally pushed the concept that SARS-CoV-2 arose and developed naturally, skipping from one animal species to a different earlier than in the end growing the functionality of infecting people.
It was additionally recommended that the virus acquired to people from a moist market in Wuhan, the place dwell animals, together with bats, are bought for meals. However, in line with Metzl, “I knew early on that this whole story of the wet market was a lie, and the Chinese government knew and for many, many months pushed that story, even knowing it wasn’t true.”7
COVID-19 Lab Leak Likely
So, what’s the circumstantial proof that SARS-CoV-2 got here from a lab, and never from a moist market or different zoonotic transmission? Metzl defined:8
“When this outbreak began, for me, one of the reasons why I started to get suspicious very early on is that I’ve been in Wuhan … it’s not a place where a bunch of locals are eating bats. Wuhan is a really sophisticated city. It’s their Chicago, and I knew they didn’t have horseshoe bats in Wuhan.”
Further, Wuhan is way from the southern half of China the place horseshoe bats (the supposed supply host) exist. Metzl continued, “As a matter of fact, when the outbreak happened, it was winter there, and so there weren’t bats there.”9 Adding extra assist to this principle is a paper revealed in The Lancet in January 2020, which reviewed particulars about the first 41 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in Wuhan.10
Of the 41 sufferers, solely 27, or 66%, had been uncovered to the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan. The paper “made clear that one-third of first COVID cases had no exposure to the wet market,” Metzl stated. “If everything started in the wet market, all of the early cases would have had exposure to the market.”11
Even the earliest case — an individual who grew to become in poor health December 1, 2019 — had no hyperlink to the market.12 Speaking with Science, Daniel Lucey, an infectious illness specialist at Georgetown University, additionally regarded the 13 sufferers with no hyperlink to the market as vital. “That’s a big number, 13, with no link,” she stated. “The virus came into that marketplace before it came out of that marketplace.”13
The different curious factor about SARS-CoV-2, even in comparison with different coronaviruses like extreme acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), is that it’s prepared made for attending to people. Metzl defined that with the first SARS, researchers had been capable of observe how the virus jumped between species, mutating in an effort to grow to be extra capable of infect people.
“In the comparative studies of different animals and humans, humans are most susceptible to SARS-CoV-2,” Metzl stated. “Somehow, you have to explain how this virus shows up, kind of seemingly out of nowhere, in Wuhan, ready for action, ready to fully infect humans.”14
Finding affected person zero, or the first particular person to be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, is one of the large questions nonetheless ready to be answered. If the zoonotic origin speculation is true, this could imply that the virus unfold amongst animals, resembling from bats to pangolins, then contaminated a human, who simply occurred to indicate up in Wuhan.
One purpose Metzl and a rising group of others suppose that is far-fetched is as a result of Wuhan is house to WIV; it’s the solely metropolis in China with a degree 4 virology institute. WIV researchers have been conducting experiments involving the bat coronavirus RaTG13 — the closest recognized relative to SARS-CoV-2, with 96.2% similarity — since at the least 2016.
In 2012, six miners working in a copper mine with recognized bats current had been contaminated with a bat coronavirus and developed COVID-19-like signs. RaTG13 was sampled from the mine the place the miners had been contaminated.15 WIV has additionally been concerned in gain-of-function analysis with bat coronaviruses.
Gain-of-function studies contain rising the capability of a pathogen to trigger sickness. The methodology is controversial as a result of it could actually additionally danger new viruses leaking out of laboratories and into the inhabitants. Given the circumstances, the probabilities of an individual who acquired the virus zoonotically ending up in Wuhan are slim. According to Metzl:16
“What are the probabilities that that affected person zero simply occurred to indicate up in Wuhan, the solely metropolis in China that has a degree 4 virology institute, that has the world’s largest assortment of bat coronaviruses, that’s doing gain-of-function analysis attempting to make them extra virulent, notably attempting to make them extra capable of infect human cells.
If affected person zero is simply anyone who had an publicity to an animal, the mathematical odds of that particular person simply exhibiting up in Wuhan can be, truly, type of absurd.”
Who Is Patient Zero?
If the lab leak speculation is true, affected person zero can be somebody who works at WIV or somebody uncovered to a virus that escaped from WIV through waste, an escaped animal or one other accident.
Huang Yan Ling was a researcher at WIV who labored intently with Shi Zhengli, Ph.D., the director of WIV’s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, also called “bat woman.” She has been learning bat-borne viruses since 2004, together with SARS-like coronaviruses.
Many consider Ling is patient zero for the COVID-19 pandemic, however she’s now lacking. Her profile and biography are lacking from WIV’s web site, however, after rumors surfaced that she was presumed lifeless, the Chinese authorities posted a discover on WIV’s website saying she’s alive and effectively. No proof of this was supplied, nonetheless.
A message reportedly appeared on China’s WeChat messaging service claiming to be from Ling and stating, “To my lecturers and fellow college students, how lengthy no communicate. I’m Huang Yanling, nonetheless alive. If you obtain any e mail [regarding the Covid rumor], please say it’s not true,” but she has since vanished from social media.17
Meanwhile, in February 2021, the WHO workforce tasked with investigating COVID-19 origins introduced its investigators concluded that WIV had nothing to do with the COVID-19 outbreak, and that the lab-escape principle would now not be half of the workforce’s investigation.18
China has been accused of cover-ups from the starting, and Metzl believes if China hadn’t carried out cover-ups and silenced whistleblowers, “COVID could have been suppressed in the first few weeks.” He stated:19
“China, whatever the origin, carried out a massive cover up, destroyed samples, eliminated or removed databases, imprisoned Chinese journalists and put gag orders on scientists so they couldn’t speak about this.”
Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, is amongst those that have been outspoken about China’s obvious efforts to cover information about the supply of SARS-CoV-2.20 According to Chan, the database on bat and mouse viral pathogens, which had been managed by Shi, has been taken offline, limiting scientists and researchers’ means to investigate the potential origins of SARS-CoV-2.21
Full Investigation Needed to Reveal COVID Origins
Metzl believes that whereas the gain-of-function analysis being performed in China — with funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, by the means — could have been effectively intentioned, maybe as a means of attempting to grasp how the most harmful pathogens could develop and get forward of them in phrases of therapy, “In our effort to prevent it, we’re actually increasing the likelihood of it happening.”22
He states the almost certainly state of affairs is that there was an accident of some type that allowed the virus to flee from the lab, which isn’t a stretch contemplating the U.S. embassy visited WIV in January 2018, noting not solely that analysis was being performed on SARS-like coronaviruses that might infect people but in addition citing a quantity of security issues, together with “a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.”23
In the open letter to get to the backside of COVID-19’s origins, it’s acknowledged that the present WHO investigatory workforce doesn’t have the independence and needed entry to hold out a full and unrestricted investigation into the origins of COVID-19, and solely by finishing up a really unrestricted, unbiased investigation will the fact be revealed.
The letter outlines what a full investigation ought to appear like, and calls on governments to take motion, concluding:24
“[W]e cannot afford an investigation into the origins of the pandemic that is anything less than absolutely thorough and credible. If we fail to fully and courageously examine the origins of this pandemic, we risk being unprepared for a potentially worse pandemic in the future.”