Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


(10,922 posts)
Sun Mar 19, 2023, 06:57 PM Mar 2023

Lab Leak or Not? How Politics Shaped the Battle Over Covid's Origin (NYTimes)

A lab leak was once dismissed by many as a conspiracy theory. But the idea is gaining traction, even as evidence builds that the virus emerged from a market.
The story of the hunt for Covid’s origin is partly about the stonewalling by China that has left scientists with incomplete evidence, all of it about a virus that is constantly changing. For all the data suggesting that the virus may have jumped into people from wild animals at a Chinese market, conclusive proof remains out of reach, as it does for the competing hypothesis that the virus leaked from a lab.
But the story is also about politics and how both Democrats and Republicans have filtered the available evidence through their partisan lenses.

Some Republicans grew fixated on idea of a lab leak after former President Donald J. Trump raised it in the early months of the pandemic despite scant evidence supporting it. That turned the theory toxic for many Democrats, who viewed it as an effort by Mr. Trump to distract from his administration’s failings in containing the spread of the virus.

The intense political debate, now in its fourth year, has at times turned scientists into lobbyists, competing for policymakers’ time and favor. Dr. Relman is just one of several researchers and like-minded thinkers who has successfully worked the corridors of power in Washington to force journalists, policymakers and skeptical Democrats to take the lab leak idea seriously.

But the political momentum has not always aligned with the evidence. Even as the idea of an accidental lab leak has now gained standing in Washington, findings reported last week bolstered the market theory. Mining a trove of genetic data taken from swabs at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan in early 2020, virus experts said they found samples containing genetic material from both the coronavirus and illegally traded raccoon dogs. The finding, while hardly conclusive, pointed to an infected animal.

The new data from the market suggests that China is holding onto clues that could reshape the debate. But for now, at least, the idea of a lab leak seems to have prevailed in the court of public opinion: Two recent polls show that roughly two-thirds of Americans believe that Covid probably started in a lab.

4 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
Lab Leak or Not? How Politics Shaped the Battle Over Covid's Origin (NYTimes) (Original Post) stopdiggin Mar 2023 OP
Oh, please. "gained standing in Washington?" "evidence builds?" PSPS Mar 2023 #1
one of the things I found interesting stopdiggin Mar 2023 #2
No matter how it started, it was down to almost zero when Trump decided to ignore it and let it spre keithbvadu2 Mar 2023 #3
down to zero is stopdiggin Mar 2023 #4


(13,433 posts)
1. Oh, please. "gained standing in Washington?" "evidence builds?"
Sun Mar 19, 2023, 07:19 PM
Mar 2023

This whole renewal of the maga nonsense stems from the maga still wanting Fauci's hide for not kowtowing to the their cult leader. As usual, the mainstream/RW media, wanting to stay in the graces of republican magas lest they jeopardize their coveted "access" as well as salivating over the return of the hourly supply of clickbait sideshow utterances from trump, will breathlessly report "new evidence!!11!1!" from some unqualified people (energy department? rated "low confidence?) for their "valuable input." Why not have an in-depth interview from the my pillow guy?

The people educated in and knowledgeable of these things are viral genealogists and they say there is no evidence that supports the "lab leak" conspiracy theory.


(10,922 posts)
2. one of the things I found interesting
Sun Mar 19, 2023, 07:37 PM
Mar 2023

and perhaps slightly disappointing/surprising - is the role that some in the scientific community played in actively lobbying both the legislative and the intelligence apparatus. Perhaps there are two sides to this coin (we quite definitely want the 'community' offering active input on certain issues - climate change, genetic diversity, epidemiology, perhaps AI ?) - but this just seemed a whole lot like conspiracy theory and political opportunism.

And we come to find out that our 'community' is not at all short of the iconoclast, the self-promoters,- and the whack jobs. (nor has it ever ..)


(36,083 posts)
3. No matter how it started, it was down to almost zero when Trump decided to ignore it and let it spre
Sun Mar 19, 2023, 08:00 PM
Mar 2023

No matter how it started, it was down to almost zero when Trump decided to ignore it and let it spread.

Repubs like the terms 'Wuhan Flu', 'China Virus', and such.

It became the Trump Virus when he let it spread freely. China did not do that.

Trump killed over 800,000 Americans with his policies.


(10,922 posts)
4. down to zero is
Sun Mar 19, 2023, 10:25 PM
Mar 2023

I believe vastly overstating the case.

Trump's politicization of the crisis remains without question.

Latest Discussions»Issue Forums»Editorials & Other Articles»Lab Leak or Not? How Poli...