Tech futurist and geopolitical expert Jamie Metzl believes the COVID-19 pandemic was a “totally preventable event” and calls for a full and unrestricted international forensic investigation into the origins of COVID-19, lest an even worse disaster will happen in the future.1
In the above interview, which shows a clip from the Joe Rogan experience, he explains why he thinks the most likely scenario is that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, accidentally has fled from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
A more in-depth explanation can be found in an open letter,2 of which Metzl was the senior editor, who says finding the true origins of SARS-CoV-2 is of critical importance not only to tackling the current pandemic, but also to reducing the risk of future pandemics.
Problems with COVID origins early on
In 2019, Metzl was appointed to the World Health Organization’s expert advisory committee on human genome editing.3 This is important because, as Metzl himself said, he is a supporter of the WHO.
Yet even he acknowledged that there was a “big problem”, and it started in the early days of the pandemic, when WHO inspectors were unable to travel to Wuhan, China, to investigate properly because the Chinese government did not grant them visas. .4
The WHO has basically picked up on the rhetoric of the Chinese government because it does not have the authority to have its own surveillance network in the region. This is also problematic, as the WHO is tasked with investigating and potentially calling on China, which is one of its member states – a member state with a lot of influence.
Metzl says the accidental lab leak hypothesis is a logical conclusion for a number of reasons. “The evidence is actually very strong,” he said. “This is all circumstantial evidence, but we have NO evidence of any other hypotheses about the origin of COVID, such as a series of different jumps through animals in the wild.5
On the contrary, Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance who is also part of the WHO team investigating the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and has a long history of close ties to the Chinese laboratory in question – the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) – told The Associated Press in November 2020 that SARS-CoV-2 could have passed from a poacher animals to a trader who brought it to Wuhan.6
Others have also pushed the idea that SARS-CoV-2 arose and evolved naturally, passing from one animal species to another before eventually developing the ability to infect humans.
It has also been suggested that the virus reached humans from a wet market in Wuhan, where live animals, including bats, are sold for food. However, according to Metzl, “I knew early on that this whole wet market thing was a lie, and the Chinese government knew and for many, many months, pushed this story, even knowing it wasn’t true.7
Leak of COVID-19 laboratory likely
So what is the circumstantial evidence that SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab, not a wet market or whatever? zoonotic transmission? Metzl explained:8
“When this epidemic started, for me, one of the reasons I started to be suspicious very early on was that I went to Wuhan… it’s not a place where a bunch of locals eat bald people. -mouse. Wuhan is a really sophisticated city. This is their Chicago, and I knew they didn’t have horseshoe bats in Wuhan.
Additionally, Wuhan is far from the southern part of China where horseshoe bats exist (the supposed source host). Metzl continued, “Actually, when the outbreak happened, it was winter there, so there weren’t any bats there.9 An article published in The Lancet in January 2020, which examined the details of the first 41 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Wuhan, provides further support for this theory.ten
Of the 41 patients, only 27, or 66%, had been exposed to the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan. The document “made it clear that a third of early COVID cases had no exposure to the wet market,” Metzl said. “If it had all started in the wet market, all the early cases would have been exposed to the market.”11
Even the oldest case – someone who fell ill on December 1, 2019 – had no connection to the market.12 Speaking to Science, Daniel Lucey, an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University, also viewed the 13 unrelated patients as important. “It’s a large number, 13, unrelated,” she said. “The virus arrived in this market before it left this market.”13
The other curious thing about SARS-CoV-2, even compared to other coronaviruses like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), is that it’s ready for humans. Metzl explained that with the first SARS, researchers were able to track how the virus jumped from species to species, mutating in order to become more capable of infecting humans.
“In comparative studies of different animals and humans, humans are the most susceptible to SARS-CoV-2,” Metzl said. “Somehow you have to explain how this virus appears, seemingly out of nowhere, in Wuhan, ready for action, ready to completely infect humans.”14
Wuhan Gain-of-Function Epicenter, Bat Coronavirus Research
Finding patient zero, or the first person infected with SARS-CoV-2, is one of the big questions still awaiting an answer. If the zoonotic origin hypothesis is true, it would mean that the virus spread among animals, like bats to pangolins, and then infected a human, who just showed up in Wuhan.
One of the reasons Metzl and a growing group of others think this is far-fetched is because Wuhan is home to WIV; it is the only city in China with a level 4 virology institute. WIV researchers conducted experiments involving the bat coronavirus RaTG13 – the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2, with a similarity of 96.2% – since at least 2016.
In 2012, six miners working in a copper mine with known bats were infected with bat coronavirus and developed COVID-19-like symptoms. RaTG13 was taken from the mine where the miners were infected.15 WIV has also been involved in gain-of-function research with bat coronaviruses.
Gain of function studies involve increasing the ability of a pathogen to cause disease. The method is controversial because it can also carry the risk of new viruses leaking out of laboratories and into the population. Given the circumstances, the chances of a person who has contracted the virus ending up zoonotic in Wuhan are slim. According to Metzl:16
“What are the chances that this zero patient will show up in Wuhan, the only city in China with a level four virology institute, which has the world’s largest collection of bat coronavirus, which is conducting research on the function gain? to make them more virulent, in particular by trying to make them more capable of infecting human cells.
If patient zero is just someone who has been exposed to an animal, the mathematical chances of that person simply showing up in Wuhan would, in fact, be pretty absurd.
Who is Patient Zero?
If the lab leak hypothesis is true, patient zero would be a person who works at WIV or someone exposed to a virus that escaped from WIV through garbage, an escaped animal, or some other accident. .
Huang Yan Ling was a researcher at WIV who worked closely with Shi Zhengli, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at WIV, also known as the “Batwoman.” She has been studying viruses transmitted by bats since 2004, including SARS-type coronaviruses.
Many believe that Ling is patient zero for the COVID-19 pandemic, but she is now missing. Her profile and biography are missing from the WIV website, but after rumors surfaced that she was presumed dead, the Chinese government posted a notice on the WIV website saying she was alive. However, no evidence of this has been offered.
A message reportedly appeared on the Chinese messaging service WeChat, claiming to be from Ling and stating, “To my teachers and classmates, how long don’t you talk. I am Huang Yanling, still alive. If you receive an email [regarding the Covid rumor], please say that is not true ”, but she has since disappeared from social media.17
Meanwhile, in February 2021, the WHO team investigating the origins of COVID-19 announced that its investigators had concluded that WIV had nothing to do with the COVID-19 outbreak and that the laboratory escape theory would no longer be part of the team’s investigation.18
China has been accused of cover-up from the start, and Metzl believes that if China had not carried out a cover-up and silenced the whistleblowers, “COVID could have been suppressed within the first few weeks.” He said:19
“China, whatever the origin, has carried out a massive cover-up, destroyed samples, wiped out or deleted databases, jailed Chinese journalists and imposed gags on scientists so that they could not speak.
Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at Harvard’s Broad Institute and MIT, is among those who have been outspoken about China’s apparent efforts to withhold information about the source of SARS-CoV-2.20 According to Chan, the bat and mouse viral pathogen database, which had been managed by Shi, has been taken offline, limiting the ability of scientists and researchers to analyze the potential origins of SARS. -CoV-2.21
Full investigation needed to reveal origins of COVID
Metzl believes that if the research on gain of function is conducted in China – with funding from the United States National Institutes of Health, by the way – perhaps well-meaning, perhaps to try to understand how the more dangerous pathogens can develop and get ahead of them in terms of treatment, “In our efforts to prevent this, we are actually increasing the the likelihood of this happening. “22
He says the most likely scenario is that there was some accident that allowed the virus to escape from the lab, which is no exaggeration given that the U.S. Embassy visited WIV in January 2018, noting not only that research was underway on SARS-like Coronavirus that could infect humans, but also citing a number of safety concerns, including “a severe shortage of properly trained technicians and investigators needed to operate this high-containment laboratory in complete safety ”.23
In the open letter to get to the bottom of the origins of COVID-19, it is stated that the current WHO investigative team does not have the independence and access to conduct a full and unrestricted investigation. on the origins of COVID-19, and only by conducting an independent and unrestricted investigation, will the truth be revealed.
The letter describes what a full investigation should look like and calls on governments to take action, concluding:24
“[W]We cannot afford an investigation into the origins of the pandemic that is far from absolutely thorough and credible. If we fail to fully and courageously examine the origins of this pandemic, we risk not being prepared for a potentially worse pandemic in the future.