By Kent R. Kroeger (April 16, 2022)
Disclaimer: I am statistician, freelance writer and a serviceable Tex-Mex chili cook. All grammatical errors and factual inaccuracies in this essay are mine alone. And, as always, do not make financial, medical or personal decisions based on the contents herein.
The lab-leak hypothesis proposes that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. While the theory does not necessarily require the virus to be “man-made,” that is often a key component of this theory.
The natural-origin hypothesis, in contrast, posits that the coronavirus is natural in origin (e.g., bats and/or raccoon dogs) and was spread from a host animal species to humans, most likely occurring initially through a food market in Wuhan, China.
When news broke last November that the first known COVID-19 case was, in fact, a Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market vendor in Wuhan, China and not an accountant with no clear link to the market, a couple of ‘I told you so’ emails appeared in my inbox.
When, four months later, a team of scientists released two papers offering the strongest statistical evidence yet that the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic was the Huanan market — thereby, presumptively, supporting the natural-origin hypothesis for SARS-CoV-2 — my inbox was flooded with personal rebukes.
“You should be ashamed of yourself for pushing the lab leak conspiracy theory,” said one email. “Congratulations Kroeger, you fell for another Trump con,” started another.
But the most hurtful admonition of them all was this one: “You chide others for letting their partisan biases infect their judgement. But face it. You’re no better.” My wife knows how to cut to the bone.
In my defense, I never claimed the lab-leak hypothesis was the definitive explanation of SARS-CoV-2’s origin. I said the lab-leak hypothesis should be seriously considered along with the natural-origin-theory and that partisan attempts to shut down legitimate inquiries into it only creates distrust and division.
And its not like interest in the lab-leak hypothesis has been limited to xenophobic Trumpers, anti-China activists, and…