The Wuhan 'Lab Leak' Investigation Is the Kind of Clusterfuck That Could Turn Everyone Into Conspiracy Theorists

The Wuhan 'Lab Leak' Investigation Is the Kind of Clusterfuck That Could Turn Everyone Into Conspiracy Theorists
Image:Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

On Wednesday, President Biden ordered the U.S. Intelligence Community to “redouble their efforts” to come to a solid conclusion about the origins of the covid-19 virus. This comes after the Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill and were hospitalized in November 2019, shortly before the covid-19 outbreak was made public, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report. The revelation placed increased attention on a theory that has been denied by the Chinese government.

The so-called lab leak theory—which theorizes that covid-19 was manufactured in a Wuhan laboratory—has long been championed on the right by characters like former Trump-era CIA director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a loud and proud critic of China. If the U.S. concludes that the Chinese government covered up an alleged lab leak, economic sanctions are inevitable, and given the never-ending battle for economic dominance between the U.S. and China… well, it’s easy to see how this can appear to be almost too advantageous of a conclusion.

In a statement, Biden said that he wants an updated analysis on covid-19’s origins in 90 days, including whether the virus was caused by human contact with an infected animal or a lab accident.

“As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this questions,” Biden wrote. “Here is their current position: ‘while two elements in the IC leans toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter—each with low or moderate confidence—the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.’”

The statement also included condemnation of China. Biden critiqued the nation for preventing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers from getting “on the ground” early, arguing that these actions will forever impede subsequent research into finding the truth about covid-19’s origin. He added that the US will, “keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and provide access to all relevant data and evidence.”

In March, a joint team of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization and China released a report that called the lab leak theory “extremely unlikely.” But Axios reports that the United States and WHO leadership have criticized the collaboration’s findings based on the “methodology and lack of transparency from the Chinese government.”

This is the kind of clusterfuck that is liable to turn anyone and everyone into a conspiracy theorist.

On the other hand, having full and complete trust in what the government of any nation says is incredibly naive, and the idea that the Chinese government is lying about the information it has on covid-19’s origin certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

But given the often sordid history of American intelligence operations, both domestic and abroad, for fuck’s sake, what are we supposed to believe?

I don’t know about any of you, but I think I’m tapping out of this mess for now.

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