Conspiracy of silence betrays our values

Published by The Mail on Sunday (7th January, 2024)

It is more than four years since the World Health Organisation was tipped off about a mysterious new disease that had emerged in Wuhan. This proved to be the start of a deadly pandemic as the virus hurtled round the planet, sparking the most serious public health catastrophe for a century.

Now, it is beyond dispute that China’s dictatorship covered up Covid’s eruption in Wuhan – with disastrous consequences. The regime’s officials hid the initial outbreak, silenced whistleblowers and censored data that could have saved millions of lives.

Yet, last year, when Michael Gove told the UK Covid-19 inquiry there was ‘a significant body of judgment that believes that the virus itself was man-made’ he was slapped down as the lead counsel, Hugo Keith, told him: ‘We’re not going to go there.’

So this bloated, costly inquiry is happy to admonish British politicians while ignoring the much bigger issue of whether the pandemic was sparked by cutting-edge scientific research or if there was ‘natural’ transmission from infected animals.

Keith’s hasty response reflected the desperate efforts of Western political, scientific and media establishments to stifle such discussion as they kowtow to China’s bullying rulers and cover up funding ties to risky research outsourced to Wuhan labs.

Zero reliable evidence has emerged to back claims of zoonotic (animal to animal) transmission. But there has been a steady trickle of evidence to suggest that it may be no coincidence that Covid emerged in the city with China’s maximum bio-safety lab, the biggest repository of bat coronaviruses in Asia.

I have reported on these issues since early 2020 – and it has been deeply disturbing to witness systemic attempts to shackle debate for it corrodes public confidence in science, politics and the media. 

Obstruction has been led by heads of key American and British funding bodies. Yet last month a study disclosed 309 laboratory-acquired infections between 2000 and 2021 – along with 16 cases of pathogens escaping a laboratory. 

Alarming details about the work in Wuhan and China’s cover-up have been exposed along with concerns over ‘Wild West’ safety and details of secret schemes to boost the infectivity of coronaviruses.

Today, there is growing acceptance that a laboratory incident might have caused the pandemic.

While no one knows for sure the answer to this scientific riddle, one thing is clear. There has been a toxic conspiracy of silence in collusion with China over Covid’s origins that has betrayed the values of democracy and science. This undermines all efforts to prepare for the next pandemic.

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