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Covid and escape from the laboratory, emails between scientists: “Let’s silence the hypothesis”

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An exchange of emails between scientists at the beginning of the pandemic brings the connection between the origin of Covid-19 and an accidental escape from the Wuhan laboratory into the spotlight, but the hypothesis would have been silenced because it is “harmful” for the science. The affair involves the Americans Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins, of the National Institutes of Health, recipients of the emails sent to them by some of the most important British scientists, such as Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, who on February 2, 2020 said he considered a “probable explanation” was the fact that Covid rapidly evolved from a SARS-like virus within human tissue, in a laboratory with low safety levels. In the email, sent to Fauci (currently a White House advisor for pandemic response) and Collins, Farrar further stated that this evolution would “accidentally create a virus ready for rapid transmission between humans.” But the scientists replied that “further debate would create unnecessary harm to science in general and particularly in China.” For the American Collins, former director of the National Institutes of Health, investigating the hypothesis of the escape from a laboratory of the virus could have damaged “international harmony”. In reporting this correspondence, the British Telegraph asked Viscount Ridley, co-author of ‘Viral: the search for the origin of Covid’. “These emails – he says – show a lack of openness and transparency among Western scientists, who seemed interested, for political reasons, to silence hypotheses that they considered very plausible”. For US Republican Congressman James Comer, who managed to obtain the full version of these documents, the emails indicate that world-renowned experts, such as Fauci, at the beginning of the pandemic had considered the hypothesis of the laboratory leak “very much. more seriously “than they later stated. In his emails to US colleagues, Farrar reported that other scientists also believed that the virus could not have evolved naturally. One of the scientists cited was Professor Mike Farzan, of Scripps Research, the expert who had discovered the mechanism by which the original Sars virus bound to human cells. Experts cited by Farrar were particularly concerned by an aspect of Covid-19 called the ‘furin fissure site’, a section of the spike protein that allows it to enter cells and be so contagious to humans. Summarizing Professor Farzan’s considerations in an email, Farrar reported that the scientist was “worried about the furin site and cannot explain it to himself as an event (which took place) outside a laboratory, even if there are possibilities in nature, but highly unlikely. “. “I believe – continued Farrar – that this becomes a question of how to put all these things together, if you believe in this series of coincidences, what do we know about the Wuhan laboratory, how natural it could be (the virus), accidental escape or natural event? I favor a 70 to 30 or a 60 to 40 “. Subsequently, in other emails dated February 4, Farrar revised his percentages, estimating the hypothesis of the laboratory leak at 50%. Other scientists, such as Professor Eddie Holmes, of the University of Sydney, were 60% in favor of this hypothesis, while Bob Garry of the University of Texas said he “cannot imagine how this could happen in nature”. Doubts were also expressed by Professor Andrew Rambaut, of the University of Edinburgh, who called the furin fissure site “unusual” and was convinced that “the only people with sufficient information or access to the samples to address the issue would be the teams who they work in Wuhan “. These new revelations, which forcefully re-launch the laboratory leak hypothesis, emerged after Republican members of the Control Commission of the US House of Representatives gained access to the documents, which at first were covered by numerous omissions. . The emails were sent in response to a conference call on February 1, 2020 between 12 scientists, including Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief science advisor. It emerges that as early as February 2 two years ago, experts tended to silence the hypothesis of the virus escaping from the Wuhan laboratory. In an email, Dutch virologist Ron Fouchier replied to British Farrar: “Further debate on these allegations would unnecessarily distract leading researchers from their duties and cause unnecessary harm to science in general and in China in particular.” Another reply came in an email attributed to the Americans Collins and Fauci: “I share your view that a quick confidential exchange between experts is needed or rumors of a conspiracy will quickly dominate, potentially creating great harm to science and harmony. international”. (by Marco Liconti)

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