Critics argue that The Lancet failed to disclose potential conflict of interest when dismissing the leak theory
Just a month ago, the idea that coronavirus came from an accidental lab leak in Wuhan was derided by much of the press as a fringe conspiracy theory and banned on Facebook as a form of misinformation.
We were amongst those that dismissed the Wuhan lab leak story as a fringe and nutty theory. This was in part because of our opinion of the orangutan Trump. But as this Times Higher Education piece discusses, over the last year some more credible commentators have observed that it is a theory that warrants more careful consideration.
This extraordinary about-turn has critics asking hard questions, including of elite academic journals, about whether it was right to have shunted the lab leak theory into the fringes in the first place.
Journalists who have rehabilitated the lab leak theory in recent months point the finger at The Lancet for allowing Peter Daszak, president of research funder the EcoHealth Alliance, to squash notions of a lab leak early on – without disclosing that he had a significant potential conflict of interest.
In February 2020, just as the Western world was waking up to the pandemic’s spread, Dr Daszak, a British zoologist who has become a controversial central figure in the origins debate, organised and signed a letter – along with a who’s who of pandemic experts – in The Lancet to “strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin”.