Did Covid first emerge at the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

The net around the Wuhan Institute of Virology continues to tighten. A letter from Lawrence Tabak, principal deputy director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States, has shed more light on the grant which the institute made to the EcoHealth Alliance for work at the Wuhan Institute.  One of the experiments, it reveals, involved testing to see whether the spike protein of a naturally-occurring coronavirus found in the bat population was capable of attaching itself to a human receptor, via experiments with mice engineered with a human gene. The experiment amounted to ‘gain of function’ research (something the NIH has denied) – modifying viruses so that they

How China tried to suppress the lab leak investigation

The lead figure in the World Health Organisation’s work on the origins of Covid-19 has given a remarkable interview to Danish TV. Peter Ben Embarek has revealed just how much political pressure the investigation came under and made clear that he thinks the lab leak hypothesis should not, pace the official report, be dismissed as extremely unlikely. Embarek told TV2 ‘Until 48 hours before we finished the whole mission, we still had no agreement that we would talk about the laboratory part in the report, so there was a discussion right up to the end about whether to include it or not.’ He said that, ‘initially, they [the Chinese] didn’t

A volte face over what caused the pandemic needs explaining

Sir Jeremy Farrar, the head of the Wellcome Trust, writes that ‘the last year has been an eye-opener for me. I thought, probably like most people, that the world works through official or formal channels, but much of it operates through private phone calls or messaging apps’. Hence his book, written with the journalist Anjana Ahuja, is a gossipy, sometimes angry, fast-paced tale, which quotes frequently from his own messages sent to other important people. No holds are barred or formal channels kept to. It is therefore a fascinating and valuable account from somebody who was close to the action, as a member of the famous Sage, and one who

WHO knows? We still can’t be sure of Covid’s origins

Could Covid-19 have originated from a Chinese lab accident? When the virus was first identified, many pointed out that it was close to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It sounded like a conspiracy theory. But it’s all too plausible. And there are questions that the long-awaited report by the World Health Organisation leaves unanswered. Only after the pandemic started did Professor Shi Zhengli, director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, notice that a close viral relative to Covid-19 had been found in a mineshaft years before. There was an apparent pneumonia outbreak nine years ago at a copper mine in Mojiang, around 1,000

Has China really beaten Covid?

It has to be seen to be believed: a pool party attended by thousands, with the young bodies packed so tightly that you could barely see the water. There was a DJ, neon lights and outlandish acrobatics from performers on water jetpacks. The scenes, captured on video and sent around the world, were all the more extraordinary because the party was in Wuhan. It wasn’t long ago that the same people were locked down in their millions. They were not even allowed to go outside for exercise. The only people you would see on the streets were the kuaidi xiaoge (‘delivery bros’), gig economy workers who dropped off groceries, medicines