Not many people would admit to being a conspiracy theorist, but there’s some pretty compelling evidence that around three-quarters of Americans have some slight leanings that way. Back in April 2021, 43% of Americans believed COVID-19 was the product of nature, while 29% of Americans believed COVID-19 was made in a lab.
Bat Cave or Laboratory Leak? Fast forward to November 2021, and there’s been a significant shift in thinking, with 72% believing COVID-19 originated in a lab. Notwithstanding this, the lab leak theory is still considered a conspiracy theory. So, what is the lab leak theory and why do so many people believe it?
The case for the laboratory leak
The first clue regarding COVID-19 comes from its makeup. SARS CoV2 has a bat backbone, as you would expect. It is 96.2% similar to RATG13, a known bat virus, which means it must have come from a bat, a mutated version of RATG13, right?
Well, that may have been the case, were it not for the fact, SARS CoV2 has the backbone of a pangolin, a scaly mammal resembling an anteater. The pangolin contributes the spike protein we’ve all heard so much about in the context of the vaccine.
This means it is extremely unlikely the virus is a mutation of the RATG13 virus that comes from a bat. Granted, we are not privy to the goings-on at the back of the bat cave, but as the virus cannot infect bats, the likelihood it occurred naturally in a bat is pretty small, according to one of the leading researchers in this area, Professor Nikolai Petrosvski of Flinders University in Australia.
The circumstantial evidence
If not nature, then where did COVID-19 come from? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to put it all together and end up on the doorstep of the Wuhan Institute of Virology and home to Dr. Shi Zhengli, or as she is known to her friends and colleagues, batwoman.
Zhengli is the world’s leading expert on coronaviruses. For a period after, the news of the pandemic Zhengli was missing in action, seemingly gone forever, but returned in the later parts of 2021, to deny research that could have resulted in COVID-19 was occurring in the Wuhan laboratory.
Regardless, the Wuhan Institute of Virology database containing 22,000 samples of coronavirus can no doubt cast some light on the virus and experiments that were occurring in the lab. Unfortunately, of all the bad luck, the database went offline in September 2019, seemingly lost forever.
China has vehemently denied the institute as the source of SARS CoV 2, claiming there are no live bats being used in the laboratories at the institute. A promotional video for the institute clearly showing live bats in the lab, showed the lie of this assertion.
When coupled with the “confessions” of the WHO-approved team, their report which placed the virus’ origins at the Wuhan wet market was a lie, and they had succumbed to the pressure of the Chinese government when investigating and writing the report, this has served only to strengthen claims that the virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
If the strong military presence at the Institute is added to reports that three Institute scientists were sick as early as September 2019, and PCR testing equipment being brought in late summer 2019, it makes a pretty compelling case. it has also raised suspicions that China was conducting gain of functional testing.
What is the gain of function research?
Gain-of-function research is an area of research that focuses on growing generations of microorganisms, under conditions that cause mutations in a virus. The pathogens are manipulated in a way that they gain function, such as increased transmissibility or increased virulence.
There are some valid reasons for doing this, the primary one being to stay ahead of viruses and develop vaccines or medications to treat future viruses. Generally, it is a balancing act and, in many instances, the risk of a situation similar to the current one outweighs the benefits this research offers.
We know that gain of function testing was going on in Wuhan because in September 2021 the NIH admitted funding gain of function research in Wuhan. What adds weight to the lab leak theory is, we know that Wuhan was doing research into the spike proteins on coronaviruses.
We know this because in 2015 they collaborated with the University of North Carolina in an experiment that took the spike protein of SHC014-CoV, a virus from the Chinese horseshoe bat populations, and attached it to a SARS-like virus that had the ability to infect mice.
The mice’s lungs were manipulated to take on the characteristics of human lungs. What resulted was a virus that therapies and vaccines could not protect against (starting to sound familiar?)
Now admittedly, the majority of the lab work was undertaken in the US, but the spike protein that was manipulated was supplied by the batwoman of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It was this research that prompted President Obama to pause gain of function research in the first place.
What Does it all Mean?
In fairness, there is an argument for the natural origin of SARS CoV2 that others find equally compelling and the reality is that it is unlikely we will ever know with certainty where the virus originated from.
The delay by the Chinese in the early days of the pandemic in notifying the world of the imminent threat and their reluctance to hand over documents has to a large degree put pay to that.
While I’m not privy to what happens at the back of the bat cave during a party, at the end of the day for my money there are just too many coincidences for this to have been a random act of nature. This is one occasion where I will happily admit to being a conspiracy theorist.
Why is this important, you ask? Accepting the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, there is increasingly compelling evidence of the US being a party to the research.