Below are excerpts from a very interesting Unherd article by Ian Birrell, who previously wrote about the lab leak hypothesis when it was very difficult to get anything published on it. Birrell’s reportage is good, as far as it goes. But he lets Fauci, Farrar and Collins off the hook. He ponders whether Chinese money influenced the “debt-ridden” Nature publishing company. It surely could have.
But one should also be asking, why is the (formerly?) world’s top science magazine, Nature, the most important journal in the world in which to publish science, debt-ridden in the first place?
And Birrell deftly avoided the more obvious conclusion that if Farrar, Fauci and Collins probably came up with the idea and definitely helped craft the Nature Medicine paper to produce faulty scientific arguments against a lab leak, wouldn’t they have been the ones to place it in Nature Medicine, not China?
Birrell did something else strange. He notes that Farrar directed him to the Nature Medicine paper as the scientific basis for the natural origin claim. But he fails to mention that the Fauci emails now show that Farrar was involved in crafting that paper, and involved his employee Josie Golding, who also signed the Daszac-written March 7 Lancet Correspondence, in its crafting. Though not a coauthor, she was quoted in the press release the Scripps Institute issued about the paper. From the Fauci emails, we now know that Kristian Andersen, the first author, emailed Fauci, Farrar and Collins to thank them for their “advice and leadership” on the paper.
Thus this otherwise interesting article is a limited hangout. While criticizing Nature Medicine and the Lancet, and attempting to grab the high road, Ian Birrell reveals himself to be a purveyor of slanted news.
There are two other interesting things about Ian Birrell. He produced one of the earliest mainstream articles on the lab hypothesis with Alina Chan, back in February. In hindsight, were they being set up then as trusted sources if the lab hypothesis gained prominence?
But who is Ian Birrell? His earlier claim to fame was as a speechwriter for David Cameron. Everyone knows what that means. He was a professional crafter of lying narratives. This Unherd article is designed to blame China and misdirect away from the role of the US and UK’s top science funders: Fauci, Jeremy Farrar and Francis Collins.
There is another issue no one but me has mentioned yet. Scientific misconduct is a crime in the US. Here is the DHHS policy on research misconduct. Tony Fauci and Francis Collins may arguably be guilty of this crime. And others.
Below are some excerpts from Ian Birrell’s article:
The proximal origin of Sars-CoV-2″ bluntly concluded that “we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible”. Critics pointed out it was questionable to claim there was any “evidence” proving that Sars-CoV-2 is not a purposefully manipulated virus. Others noted that the statement mentions the mysterious furin cleavage site — which Nikolai Petrovksy drew attention to as allowing the spike protein to bind effectively to cells in human tissues yet which is not found in the most closely-related coronaviruses — but downplays its potential significance. The statement suggests “it is likely that Sars-CoV-2-like viruses with partial or full polybasic cleavage sites will be discovered in other species”. This has not happened so far.
This document — whose five signatories include one expert who was handed China’s top award for foreign scientists after nearly 20 years work there, and another who is a “guest professor” for the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention — has been accessed 5.4 million times and cited almost 1,500 times in other papers. It is so influential that when I emailed Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and one ofThe Lancet signatories, to see if his stance remained the same, he pointed me to this paper that he called “the most important research on the genomic epidemiology of the origins of this virus”.
The lead author was Kristian Andersen, an immunologist at Scripps Research Institute in California who has been a very active voice on social media condemning the lab leak theory and confronting its proponents. Yet the recent release of emails to Anthony Fauci exposed that Andersen had previously admitted to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director that the virus had unusual features that “(potentially) look engineered” and which are “inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory”. He claimed last week the discussion was “clear example of the scientific process” but as another top scientist said to me: “What a smoking gun!”. Now Anderson’s twitter account has suddenly disappeared…
[According to Rutgers professor Richard Ebright,] “Nature and The Lancet played important roles in enabling, encouraging, and enforcing the false narrative that science evidence indicates Sars-CoV-2 had a natural-spillover origin points and the false narrative that this was the scientific consensus”.
Or as another well-placed observer put it: “The game seems to be for Nature and The Lancet to rush non-peer revised correspondences to set the tone and then delay critical papers and responses.”
But why would they do this? This is where things become even murkier. Allegations swirl that it was not down to editorial misjudgement, but something more sinister: a desire to appease China for commercial reasons…