BORIS Johnson is due to give evidence to the Covid Inquiry tomorrow and on Thursday. He is said to be ready to admit to being ‘far too complacent’ when alerted to the virus. But how much of that was because of a cover-up by top UK scientists of its true nature?
The inquiry has already been accused of being a ‘grotesque circus’ as it details (at huge cost to the taxpayer – more than £100million so far) the minutiae of relationship difficulties faced by ministers struggling to understand the unprecedented nature of the pandemic.
Yet last week, when Cabinet minister Michael Gove told lead counsel Hugo Keith KC that ‘there is a considerable body of judgment that believes that the virus itself was man-made’, he was immediately slapped down. ‘It forms no part of the terms of reference of this inquiry, Mr Gove, to address that somewhat divisive issue, so we are not going to go there,’ Keith said.
In fact, there is ‘overwhelming evidence’ that SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid, was genetically engineered to become a human pathogen, as British vaccines researcher Angus Dalgleish, a London University professor of oncology, wrote in the Daily Mail last week.
Almost as soon as the virus appeared, Dalgleish co-authored with Norwegian researchers a paper which spelled out the sequence of laboratory events through which alterations in its ‘spike’ protein had facilitated its entry into human cells. After analysing the biochemistry of the spike, the team concluded that it had six inserts, ‘unique fingerprints . . . indicative of purposive manipulation’.
They tried to share the findings with government and other scientists but were told it was ‘not in the public interest’ for such information to be published.
If Baroness Hallett and her costly army of 62 lawyers are to serve us properly, and minimise the chances of a similar future crisis, here are 21 vital questions they should put to the former Prime Minister.
1. Did your advisers tell you about the Dalgleish paper, which clearly differentiated SARS-CoV-2 from previous scares over ‘novel pathogens’ that turned out to be false alarms, but which might well have made you sceptical over such claims?
2. Did you know that Sir Patrick Vallance, the GlaxoSmithKline man serving as your chief scientific adviser and chair of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) – the one who wrote that you, Boris Johnson, were ‘bamboozled’ by the science and ‘bonkers’ to try to let the young get on with life and keep the economy going – was a party right from the start to secret Anglo-American talks at which genetically engineered features of the virus were discussed?
3. Did you know that as a result of those talks, it was decided to promote an opposite story – that it jumped from animals to humans at wet markets in Wuhan, China, which just happened to be near a high-level Institute of Virology with which US biodefence researchers had been collaborating?
4. Did you know that late on January 31, 2020 – the day the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid a global health emergency – immunologist Kristian Anderson, of the influential Scripps Research Institute in California, emailed Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), warning that if one looked really closely at all the virus’s genetic sequences, one would ‘see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.’?
5. Did you know that the email was copied to only one person – Sir Jeremy Farrar, at that time head of the powerful Wellcome Trust, and a ‘good friend and colleague’ of Vallance?
6. Did you know that the next day, Fauci sent an urgent email, marked IMPORTANT, to his deputy, Hugh Auchincloss, reading: ‘Hugh – it is essential we speak this AM. Keep your cell phone on . . . Read this paper as well as the email that I will forward to you now. You will have tasks today that must be done.’?
7. Did you know that the paper in question was by American immunologist Ralph Baric, long-term recipient of NIAID funds, describing how genetic sequences from Chinese bats were used to construct a chimera – a laboratory creation which the researchers showed capable of infecting humans? And that the paper concluded: ‘On the basis of these findings, scientific review panels may deem similar studies too risky to pursue . . . the potential to prepare for and mitigate future outbreaks must be weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous pathogens.’?
8. Did you know that Fauci continued to fund this work, including millions that went to the Wuhan lab?
9. Did you know that on February 1, 2020, Fauci held a teleconference related to a document called ‘Coronavirus sequence comparison’, and that Farrar sent an email about it that same afternoon to Fauci, Vallance and others, warning: ‘Information and discussion is shared in total confidence and not to be shared until agreement on next steps.’?
10. Did you know that on the same day, Kristian Anderson sent an email which stated: ‘I think the main thing still in my mind is that the lab escape version of this is so friggin’ likely to have happened because they were already doing this type of work and the molecular data is fully consistent with that scenario.’?
11. Did you know that also on February 1, under Farrar’s direction, Anderson completed the first draft of a paper, published by Nature Medicine on March 17, which concluded: ‘We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.’ And that this paper, viewed millions of times, shut down the lab-leak theory over the next few years, being used by countless ‘fact-checkers’ to dismiss contrary suggestions as ‘conspiracy theories’.?
12. Do you agree that ‘understanding the source of a virus emergence that leads to a pandemic is difficult yet crucial to understanding how to prevent a similar event in the future’, as the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens has stated?
13. In the light of that crucial need, do you feel you and the country have been well served by your scientific advisers?
14. Is it possible that to defend science’s reputation, and the flow of billions in public funds for pandemic preparation, they withheld vital information from you and your Cabinet about the threat the genetically engineered virus represented, while encouraging the creation of a climate of dread to try to salve their consciences?
15. Did you know that British scientist Peter Daszak, head of the EcoHealth Alliance, which received tens of millions of US dollars for investigating coronaviruses and was a channel for funds to the Wuhan lab, said as far back as 2015: ‘We need to increase public understanding of the need for medical counter-measures such as a pan-coronavirus vaccine. A key driver is the media, and the economics will follow the hype. We need to use that hype to our advantage, to get to the real issues. Investors will respond if they see profit at the end of the process.’?
16. Did you know that a February 2020 statement in the Lancet medical journal, authored by 27 prominent public health scientists and virologists condemning ‘conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin’, was drafted by Daszak and organised by EcoHealth Alliance employees? The letter said: ‘Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice that jeopardise our global collaboration in the fight against this virus.’
17. Does it strike you as somewhat hypocritical that Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, said in an editorial last month that ‘the lies, deceptions, and callous conceit that characterised the UK’s initial response to Covid-19 must surely bring some kind of reckoning.’?
18. Did you know that Daszak was appointed to head a Lancet inquiry into the virus’s origins from which he later ‘recused himself’ without explanation? And that Daszak played a leading role in a similar investigation by the WHO, widely dismissed as a whitewash?
19. With Jeremy Farrar now chief scientific officer of the WHO, do you think the UK Government should support the WHO’s proposed pandemic treaty and amendments to its International Health Regulations which critics say represent a fundamental threat to national, medical and bodily sovereignty?
20. In the light of the above, what is your opinion of your former chief science adviser telling the inquiry: ‘The evidence itself can neither be harmful or beneficial. It is just what it is, and provided all the evidence is published, ministerial decision can be completely free to overturn that evidence and say “I choose to do something different”. My instinct is that greater transparency is helpful all round. I would not wish to see less transparency of the science evidence.’?
21. Would you sympathise with a comment by Rishi Sunak, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, as ministers struggled to cope in the early days of the pandemic, that ‘it’s all about handling the scientists, not handling the virus.’?