The editor of the respected medical journal The Lancet has declined to reveal whether he still supports a controversial letter claiming that COVID-19 started in a Chinese lab.
The letter was published in The Lancet last February and was signed by 27 leading public health experts who described speculation about the origin of the virus from a lab in Wuhan as “rumours” and “misinformation.”
When MailOnline reached out to the editor of The Lancet, Dr. Richard Horton, on the decision to publish and support the letter, both he and his office declined to comment.
The editor of the respected medical journal The Lancet (pictured, Richard Horton) has declined to reveal whether he still supports a controversial letter claiming that COVID-19 started in a Chinese lab
The letter played a key role in quelling early debate about the origins of the pandemic, but its credibility has since been questioned after details emerged about the involvement of Peter Daszak, a major funder of the Wuhan Institute of Virology ( WIU).
He signed and organized the letter as his group funneled US taxpayer funds to the organization for conducting controversial job gain research.
Controversy is circulating around the letter and those who publicly denounced the lab leak theory, with US director of infectious diseases, Anthony Fauci, coming under intense scrutiny for publicly denying it was a possibility, while published emails suggest he’s the idea. held behind closed doors.
One of the letter’s signatories, Dr. Peter Palese, a microbiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, softened his stance last week when he told MailOnline that a “thorough investigation was needed.”
The letter played a key role in quelling early debate about the origins of the pandemic, but its credibility has since been questioned after details emerged about the involvement of Peter Daszak (pictured), a major funder of the Wuhan Institute. of Virology (WIU)
He was one of three named in the letter to respond to the request for comment — all 27 were solicited. dr. Jeremy Farrar and Professor Leo Poon gave no substantive opinion on the developments, but Dr Farrar said: ‘We must remain open-minded’.
Weeks after the letter’s publication, Dr. Horton Daszak on Twitter by writing: ‘Peter Daszak rejects conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID-19; and he knows more about coronaviruses than most of us.”
dr. Horton has also publicly criticized conspiracy theories about China’s role in the pandemic, calling it “sinophobia.”
He has also called for greater collaboration between scientists in the country and those in the west.
In the Lancet last July, he wrote: “The global emergency of COVID-19 is exacerbating the confrontation between China and the west, exacerbated by President Trump’s insistence to refer to the ‘China virus’.
Controversy swirls around the letter and those who publicly denounced the lab leak theory, with U.S. director of infectious diseases Anthony Fauci (pictured) under intense scrutiny for publicly denying it was a possibility, while published emails suggest he did. idea behind closed doors
He added: ‘The current wave of anti-China sentiment has now evolved into a Sinophobia threatening international health.
Since the start of the pandemic, theories have been circulating that the coronavirus emerged in a lab rather than in an animal in a market, initially branded conspiracies.
They were fueled by the existence of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of the top virus research centers in the country, in the same city where the pandemic started.
Some scientists have argued that there are elements of the virus that make it look potentially evolved, while other skeptics have tried to link it to gain-of-function research.
This kind of research is being done by lab scientists who are trying to force viruses to mutate in certain ways to figure out how they might cause serious illness in humans in the future — and in this way stay ahead of them to produce drugs or vaccines, for example.
Pictured: A nurse prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine
There are claims that this was done in Wuhan with a coronavirus — extremely similar viruses to Covid already existed, such as SARS — and that the bug accidentally escaped the lab and entered the population.
US President Joe Biden last week ordered intelligence agencies to launch an investigation into whether Covid is man-made after all.
But China immediately hit back, calling the suggestion a “conspiracy.”
Most scientists believe that the virus evolved naturally in animals; probably bats and then other small or medium sized mammals before being transmitted to humans.
The Wellcome Trust’s Dr. Farrar, who wrote the letter last year with Dr. Horton, said in a statement last week: “The origin of Sars-Cov-2 is not yet certain – it is possible that the origin will never be fully established – but nature is a powerful force and, in my view, is the most likely scenario is that the virus passed from animals to humans and then evolved into humans.
“The best scientific evidence available to date points to that. It is highly likely that it crossed the species barrier to infect humans and then adapt to humans sometime in 2019, but there are other possibilities that cannot be completely ruled out and keeping an open mind is critical.
“There is no place for baseless rumors or conspiracy theories often fanned for political ends…
“The answers can only be found in robust scientific evidence, with full transparency from all involved. There has been too much guesswork and theory without data or evidence, although there is still too little transparency.’
Another signatory, Professor Palese, 77, reversed his original rebuttal of the theory, admitting that a complete overhaul is needed.
He told MailOnline: ‘I believe a thorough investigation into the origin of the Covid-19 virus is needed.
“Since the Lancet letter I signed, a lot of disturbing information has surfaced, so I would like answers to all questions.”
When asked how he had originally been approached to sign the letter and what new information specifically had come to light, Professor Palese declined to comment.
dr. Palese spoke out as America’s leading pandemic expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, still feverishly called for to resign after emails revealed leading virus experts warned that Covid could be man-made, even though he downplayed the possibility.
The emails also revealed that he was communicating with Dr. Daszak, the head of the non-profit organization that funneled US taxpayers’ money into the Wuhan lab.
Biden threw his support behind the embattled expert on Friday, saying: ‘Yes, I have great faith in Dr Fauci.’