Probably the most interesting part of the recent investigation into the possibility of a “lab-leak” origin for Covid-19 … has nothing to do with the origins of Covid-19:
Apparently, efforts by the American NSC to actually seriously investigate said possibility kept being hampered by other American institutions and experts *urging them not to look too heavily into* gain-of-function research, because it might inadvertently shine a light on America’s own developments in this area.
Now, I’ve previously said that this entire phase of operations reminds me a little *too* much of the climate circa 2002 – when American intelligence agencies had claims about ‘proof’ that Saddam Hussein was running a serious Weapons of Mass Destruction programme (and it’s interesting that the NSC branch charged with investigating ‘lab-leak’ is from the WMD directorate) … only for it to turn out that the *only* material of that kind to be found in Iraq were the leftovers of what the Americans and their allies had sold Saddam several decades prior.
I personally think that the People’s Republic of China has done itself a significant disservice by running what looks rather like a “deny everything and make wild counteraccusations” stance – as their lack of transparency around particular areas pertaining to the virus’ potential origins has only provided space for conspiratorial thinking to fill in the gaps.
However, it is rather … bemusing that their shouted claims about American origins for Covid-19 – while almost certainly untrue – do parallel the evident advanced state of gain-of-function research in the US at the time.
All up, the scrabbling over “who to blame” for the Covid-19 outbreak is – just as it was this time a year ago – an empty sport being played for psychopolitical gain.
If somebody *else* is responsible for the ultimate origins of the pandemic, then somebody *else* is responsible for all the destruction and loss of life which it has caused, goes the emotional timbre of this approach.
Which ignores the fact that *however* the virus got its start – most of its active consequences have been the result of very human, and occasionally very deliberate decisions undertaken many thousands of kilometers from Wuhan: in the capitals of countries which have had to deal with it since.
It’s certainly possible – indeed, I would say that it is quite appropriate – to be quite negative about the PRC’s initial handling of the situation, which facilitated the virus’ international spread. Although credit where credit’s due, the PRC’s subsequent internal management was a significant improvement – and their ‘vaccine diplomacy’ is actually having a tangibly beneficial impact in some countries even as we speak.
However, even though the PRC may have played host to the virus in its early days, and even though the PRC may have initially protested when we suspended travel from China … in most of the world, the PRC was not responsible for various countries bungling their own local Covid-19 responses.
The Hunt For Covid-19’s Origins, while it *does* have legitimate scientific and especially epidemiological necessity to it – is also, as I have said, a psychopolitical sport.
Because if the PRC can be fingered as the dastardly mad scientist (or, at least, careless overseer of same) in this story, then somebody *else* – somebody *other* than lackadaisical or callous home-grown government personnel – is “responsible”.
It wasn’t the fault of some political factotum who declared they wanted to prioritize keeping ‘the economy’ breathing easy and open at the tangible expense of human wellbeing – it was the fault of some shadowy lab administrator half a world away in China that there was even a virus to speak of to begin with.
I expect that this is going to become ever more of a thought-terminating cliche as the smoke clears in various polities and serious, searching questions around crisis-response and disaster-readiness begin to be asked therein.
Every time there is a strenuous probing interrogative, the answer shall come to rhetorically bat it away – “why are you trying to take the focus off of the *true* culprits here, in Wuhan??”
As I think I have said before, elsewhere –
When it comes to this virus’ origins, just as with a great many other things … I do not trust the PRC’s government.
However I *also* do not tend to trust US intelligence agencies or American politicians, either.