On Investigating the Origins of COVID-19
From the Radio Open Source Podcast with Christopher Lydon
Open Source is the world’s longest-running podcast. Christopher Lydon circles the big ideas in culture, the arts and politics with the smartest people in the world. It’s the kind of curious, critical, high-energy conversation we’re all missing nowadays.
There’s a swerve in the road, signs that say “Sharp Curves Ahead,” in the origin story of the COVID pandemic. Where did that virus come from? And how did it leap to the human species, to kill by now more than three million of us? For a year and a half, it’s been a buried issue, a trial without evidence, a detective story without its Sherlock Holmes on the case. And now the mystery plot thickens alongside a second buried story: that the Wuhan lab in China that did manipulate viruses to make them more deadly for humans had dollar support, American science alongside it, and US oversight by healthcare officials, including Dr. Fauci himself. If the killer virus did leap from that lab in Wuhan, who’s responsible for a joint venture that produced the deadliest accident in human history?
Eavesdrop with us this hour: on the COVID question, the “lab leak” mystery that is finally front and center and making a lot of the experts squirm. It’s about where and how the coronavirus made contact with people. Is the merciless pandemic revealing nature’s way with viruses, or the hand of science reaching far beyond its grasp, without even counting the risks? We’re listening in on a meta-novelist, a Singapore biologist in a Cambridge lab, and a scoop artist high in scientific journalism—all puzzling where the killer coronavirus came from. And we’re engaging one of the rare American scientists who tried to steer his colleagues off a path to disaster: Richard Ebright.
From the episode:
Richard Ebright: This is not simply a matter of China’s actions and China’s decisions. This also engages the international community’s actions and the international community’s decisions—decisions to construct the facility, to train the personnel, to fund the research, and not to carry out a risk benefit assessment for the facility or for the research, and not to specify a sufficient and adequate standard of biosafety and biosecurity for the institute and the research. And so it’s not just China and it’s not just one institution in China and it’s not just one laboratory and its staff.
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