SWAT Teams and Copycat Cover-ups on the Origins of Pandemics

More and more evidence indicates that the widespread debunking that the lab leak hypothesis of the origins of COVID-19 has experienced in recent times may represent a re-run of the debunking that the OPV theory of the origin of AIDS experienced some twenty-odd years ago.  Indeed, several of the same members of the scientific community have taken part in both campaigns of vilification.  One of the latest articles about the origins of COVID-19 describes a “SWAT team” that was set up early on to discredit the hypothesis that the pandemic could have been caused by a viral leak from a laboratory.  The tactics used by the SWAT teams that have taken part in the debates about how COVID and AIDS got started are characterised by ruthless attempts to disparage, discredit and deny.  This commentary will focus on what increasingly look like two significant cover-ups of how recent pandemics got started. and examine the remarkable similarities between them.  

For those who are not familiar with the OPV theory, it proposes that an experimental polio vaccine which, uniquely, was administered in the Belgian territories of central Africa in the late 1950s, and batches of which were prepared in the cells of the common chimpanzee (which is naturally infected with the ancestral virus to the AIDS virus, HIV-1), introduced that virus into humans, and was the source of the AIDS pandemic. Initially rejected by many in the scientific mainstream, many now believe that the OPV theory has become increasingly plausible as time goes by and new knowledge about the AIDS pandemic is processed. 

A new article has been published in Independent Science News by the virologist Professor Jonathan Latham, who is the co-author of the Mojiang Miners Passage (MMP) Theory.  [See: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/commentaries/faucis-covid-origin-swat-team-versus-the-mojiang-miner-passage-theory/ .]  The article bears the interesting title: “Fauci’s COVID Origin SWAT Team Versus the the Mojiang Miners Passage theory”.

The MMP theory proposes that the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2, originated from one of six miners who were dispatched in 2012 to clear bat guano from a mine in south-central Yunnan province, southern China. Three of the miners died with an array of unusual symptoms over the next few months.  Latham and a geneticist colleague, Professor Allison Wilson, discovered that the doctor who had treated the miners later published an account of their cases as a 2013 MSc thesis, entitled “The analysis of 6 cases of severe pneumonia caused by unknown viruses”. Latham and Wilson arranged to have the thesis translated from the Chinese, and discovered that both the three dead miners and the three survivors suffered an array of symptoms including dry coughs, high fevers and difficulty breathing, all of which are similar to the classic symptoms of COVID.   They published an article advancing the MMP theory on July 15, 2020, as “A proposed origin for SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 epidemic”. [See: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/commentaries/a-proposed-origin-for-sars-cov-2-and-the-covid-19-pandemic/ .] 

Latham argues that in 2012-13 blood samples from at least one (but maybe as many as four) of the miners were dispatched to a leading virology lab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), situated some 1,500 kilometres from the Mojiang mine, where they were studied by members of a research group led Dr Shi Zhengli, popularly known as “Bat Woman”, because she has focussed on the viruses of bats (the only airborne mammalian species).  Although Dr Zhengli denies that any coronaviruses were isolated from blood samples from the miners, Latham cites three different Chinese sources who state that a coronavirus was isolated from these samples; (this could conceivably have happened in a WIV lab other than Dr Zhengli’s lab).  He proposes that the coronavirus in question would already have been highly human-adapted due to having resided for many months inside the body of an infected miner, and further proposes that it may then have been genetically manipulated in the same lab.  Manipulation of this type is normally carried out by subjecting a virus to “rapid passage” through different substrates; in other words it is grown repeatedly in different cell cultures.

It is known that in the years since 2013 Chinese virologists such as Shi Zhengli were backed by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense in the US, to enable them to initiate Gain-Of-Function (GOF) research on some of the bat viruses, designed to alter their properties.  In particular the so-called DEFUSE project, a collaboration between the US and China, “proposed using US defense funding to take coronaviruses collected in China and give them ‘humanised’ protein cleavage sites that would enhance their pathogenicity”.  Some of these grants were administered by an agency called EcoHealth Alliance, led by the British zoologist Peter Daszak.  Professor Daszak has played a less than noble role in the origins-of-COVID debate, for it has been discovered that he was the secret organiser behind the publication of a letter signed by 27 leading Western scientists in The Lancet on March 7, 2020, which piously announced: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”  Worryingly, neither Peter Daszak, Shi Zhengli, nor the Chinese nor American authorities have provided full and clear accounts of the bat virus research that Zhengli and her colleagues were carrying out at the WIV.  

The nearest known bat virus to SARS-CoV-2 (with over 96% homology) is called RaTG13, and comes from the Mojiang mine.   Apparently it contains a spike protein, but not a furin cleavage site. Neither of these elements are normally found in coronaviruses, but they are unique factors of SARS-CoV-2 which facilitate the interaction of that virus with human cells. Latham says that SARS-CoV-2 has a mosaic genome, and was created by recombination with elements of another virus which, he implies, may be where the US-backed Gain-of-Function research (such as the DEFUSE project) came into the picture.

Most lab leak hypotheses propose that a bat virus was subjected to GOF research, and later escaped from the WIV to spark the COVID pandemic. By contrast Latham and Wilson propose that a virus from a Mojiang miner which was similar to the bat virus, RaTG13, later recombined with another virus (perhaps during GOF research in Shi Zhengli’s lab), to create SARS-CoV-2, which then escaped into the city of Wuhan.  The MMP theory thus combines elements from the “natural origin” and “lab leak” theories of how the pandemic began.  It is a relatively parsimonious explanation, and is undoubtedly one of the leading contenders to explain COVID-19’s origin.

Professor Latham’s latest article, “Fauci’s COVID Origin SWAT Team Versus the the Moijang Miners Passage theory”, reveals several of the dubious methods that have been used to attack arguments that propose that irresponsible research and human error were involved with the genesis of COVID.  [https://www.independentsciencenews.org/commentaries/faucis-covid-origin-swat-team-versus-the-mojiang-miner-passage-theory/ .]  Clearly frustrated by the partisan treatment that his and Wilson’s articles on the MMP theory have received, Latham speaks out frankly about the tactics employed by what he describes as the “SWAT team” which he says was created when Anthony Fauci, long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) “secretly convened a group of select international virologists” in early 2020 who “led vociferous efforts to douse and denigrate any lab leak speculation” through a series of published scientific articles and social media posts.   (A SWAT team is a police tactical unit employing Special Weapons And Tactics.)

Latham writes that his latest article analyses some of the “efforts to create an intellectually poisoned environment around the origin of the virus”, and claims that “this group of Fauci insiders has cynically and strategically attempted to dismiss a specific theory of COVID-19’s origin, the Mojiang Miners Passage Theory”.  He goes on to claim that these negative views of the MMP theory have been voiced “not because they see the theory as flawed, but precisely because it is a highly viable and parsimonious explanation of SARS-CoV-2’s emergence.” 

Several scientists from different fields (some of them senior scientists) have expressed very similar opinions about criticisms of the OPV theory, and its explanation of the emergence of AIDS.   Sadly, all but one or two such statements have been made off the record, for it is all too easy for scientific dissidents to be punished through the severance of grants or by being sidelined for advancement. 

An aside about Anthony Fauci, to whom I was briefly introduced when I visited the NIH in 2000.   I am not one of those commentators, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who seem to believe that he is the source of all evil in recent scientific research.  However, he has been director of the NIAID since 1984, since soon after the start of the AIDS pandemic.  To be a survivor for 38 years in a highly influential post which requires the delivery of public statements on many controversial issues, a scientist would need also to be a politician/administrator who could be relied upon to support establishment positions when so required.  In his statements about the origins of AIDS, Fauci has always made it clear that he opposes the OPV theory that I favour, which implicates both the US and Belgian governments.  In terms of the present COVID-origin debate, there is far more evidence of Fauci’s direct involvement with the suppression of any explanations that implicate the past actions of the US and Chinese governments.

Latham identifies seven individual members of the so-called SWAT team.  As I have pointed out in previous posts, four of these seven have a past history, in that they have previously played leading roles in attempts to debunk the OPV theory of how AIDS began.  I had discussions with all four men in 2000 and the years immediately following, when I suspected (and now firmly believe) that their opposition to OPV/AIDS was based on erroneous analysis.  They are Eddie Holmes, Andrew Rambaut, Michael Worobey and Robert Garry.  At the start of the millennium the first three were all members of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, where they effectively established an informal coalition in opposition to the OPV theory.  This happened shortly after the death in March 2000 of Bill Hamilton, from the same Oxford department, who was my mentor and one of the leading proponents of the OPV theory.  The fourth man, Robert Garry, is an American researcher who has previously criticised the OPV theory on the insubstantial grounds that Hilary Koprowski, who was the leading scientist behind the polio research and subsequent vaccination campaigns based at Stanleyville in the Belgian Congo, said that the theory was untrue.   Back in the 1990s Garry published some similarly dubious data on a teenage boy from St Louis who, he claimed, had been infected with HIV-1 back in 1968-9.  Other scientists have demonstrated that the sequence published by Garry was far too close genetically to the HIV-1 control sample being used in his lab, and was therefore in all likelihood a lab contamination.  But Garry has never properly addressed such arguments, let alone acknowledged the possibility that he might have made an error.  Yet for some reason, he appears to be one of Fauci’s chosen favourites.   Another member of the SWAT team (one whom I have not met) is Kristian Andersen, the lead author of a March 2020 paper that was strongly opposed to the possibility of a lab leak origin for COVID; [see below].  

And yet back in January 2020, when the so-called SWAT team was just about to be convened by Fauci, its members took the opposite view on the possibility of a lab leak; at that point they all seem to have been sceptical that the pandemic could have had a natural origin.  This was shown by an email from Andersen to Fauci dated January 31, 2020 (soon after the start of the epidemic in Wuhan) which indicated that he, Holmes, Garry and Worobey had discussed this by phone, and that all held this view.   [See: “Latest update on COVID origins and a review of the performance of flip-flopping scientists”,  posted on this site on August 27, 2021.]  Latham’s latest article quotes from another email that was sent in the early days by Robert Garry to other members of the group, which includes the quote “I just can’t figure how this gets accomplished in nature…it’s stunning”.   Yet within a few weeks (on March 17, 2020) these four men, led by Andersen, published a piece of “correspondence” (not even a full scientific paper) in Nature Medicine titled “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2”, which argued strongly that the causative virus had to have been the result of a natural event, a zoonosis in which a virus had crossed from an animal species to Homo sapiens. They postulated that this might have happened at a “wet market” in Wuhan where many different animal species were being sold.  And they flatly rejected the idea that COVID might have arisen through a lab leak.  This early paper thus echoed the Daszak letter published ten days earlier in The Lancet, and seemingly had the same intention of deterring fellow scientists from believing in a laboratory origin for COVID.

Despite Andersen’s Nature Medicine paper initially being celebrated as a key paper about COVID origins, it has since attracted widespread criticism for its misleading statements and bias.   Sadly, in recent years many of the most suspect papers about the origins of pandemics have been published by journals such as Nature (or its subsidiaries) and Science, illustrating just how compromised these two pillars of the scientific establishment have become.  Both these august journals seem to believe that it is their obligation, and perhaps right, to make early authoritative statements on controversial subjects such as these. Unfortunately, these statements are all too often found to be intent on defending thescientific status quo at all costs, and unprepared to entertain doubts about the competence or ethical standards of specific scientists, especially if those scientists are still alive.

None the less, from Fauci’s perspective the Andersen paper did its job.  Latham points out that despite its many flaws, it already has 4453 citations in other medical papers. The preemptive strike by the SWAT team (combined with the Daszak letter) thus effectively enshrined the “natural origin” theory of COVID as the default theory, the one to beat, even if this was done on partisan and misleading grounds.  This taking of the corner ground is very important in controversial scientific debates, illustrating how Modern Science can be profoundly influenced by manipulations of this type by “experts” who are determined to promote a non-controversial or politically expedient position. 

A very similar thing happened at the Royal Society discussion meeting on AIDS origins in 2000 when a group of influential scientists invited (and to some extent marshalled) by the surviving meeting organisers, virologists Robin Weiss and Simon Wain-Hobson, effectively installed the bushmeat theory as the default theory of AIDS origin, and insisted that the OPV theory was at best an implausible challenger to that theory.  (By the time this happened the other meeting organiser, Bill Hamilton, had died.)  Levels of proof were now demanded of the OPV theory that were never demanded of the bushmeat theory.  At that moment the AIDS origins debate was tilted inexorably in one direction. 

But back to the Andersen paper.  Jonathan Latham points out that, by contrast, COVID origin articles incorporating the possibility of a lab leak have enjoyed very few citations.  He highlights a “highly credible” 2020 article by Sirotkin and Sirotkin, entitled “Might SARS-CoV-2 Have Arisen via Serial Passage through an Animal Host or Cell Culture?”, which has just 21 citations.  The Sirotkin article is important, and I will return to it later in this commentary.

Latham is especially critical of Andrew Rambaut, whom he describes as “one of the world’s most cited scientists” and “a black belt in virus evolution”.  None the less, he says, Rambaut has made claims on Twitter that he has authoritative evidence on certain aspects of the COVID origins debate which, when investigated further, do not stand up. The alleged published evidence simply does not exist.   He asserts that tweets such as these “expose profound weaknesses in his arguments.  Rambaut repeatedly misrepresented our views and ended up critiquing us for positions we don’t hold.”   In some of these tweets, Latham adds, Rambaut attempted to “dismiss us as scientific naifs. It’s a form of the classic ad hominem attack. If you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger.”

He goes on: “Rambaut is clearly a highly competent and experienced scientist.  Any competent person in possession of a powerful argument does not bother to debunk straw men, critique details, or resort to ad hominem attacks.  His deployment of such dubious tactics strongly suggests that Rambaut has no genuine case against the MMP theory.”  He concludes that if Rambaut, despite his claims on Twitter, has no good argument against the MMP theory then “the arguably best-informed and most respected denier of lab leak origin theories would stand exposed. A leading scientist incapable of substantiating his glib online dismissals.  Similarly, his repeated ignoring of plausible lab leak theories in high-profile papers like the recent ‘Critical review’ of COVID-19’s origins would be unjustifiable.  He would be guilty of very bad faith indeed.”  (Here, Latham is referring to the 2021 paper by Holmes et al. cited below.)

I found this scathing attack on Rambaut’s integrity and approach to disputation riveting, for in 2001 I had had a similarly unsatisfactory exchange with Rambaut about the OPV hypothesis.  He had written a brief but damning article in Nature claiming that he had disproved the OPV theory, so I phoned him up and asked him to explain his position further.  In that phone call, which was followed by a series of emails, he continued to assert that he had disproved certain aspects of the hypothesis.  I, however, began to feel that he was not necessarily very good at expressing himself in easily comprehensible language.  I told him that I could not follow his reasoning, and he responded that perhaps I lacked the scientific background to do so.  But later I showed the emails to half a dozen experienced scientists from different fields, and all agreed that in reality he had proved nothing. What he had done was to make a number of assertions based on his (and the bushmeat group’s) assumptions that AIDS must have begun in west central Africa in around 1920 as a single viral transfer from chimpanzee to human.  All his arguments were based on that debatable premise.  I, by contrast, have good reasons (which I will not further elaborate in this commentary) for believing in the “punctuated origin” theory, which proposes that the AIDS pandemic began in the late 1950s, as a result of multiple transfers to humans of closely related contaminating viruses (the simian immunodeficiency viruses of chimpanzees, which are the immediate ancestors of the AIDS pandemic viruses) through the Koprowski polio vaccination programme in the Belgian territories of central Africa.  Rambaut has not succeeded in providing any compelling argument against the punctuated origin theory. 

Latham goes on to offer evidence of the bias of other members of Fauci’s SWAT team.   A follow-up article by Holmes (with the other four named SWAT team members as co-authors) published in September 2021 was titled “The origins of SARS-CoV-2: A Critical Review”.   [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8373617/ .]  But it was not a true review at all, for it neither properly described the lab leak hypothesis, not quoted any article that did.   As Latham succinctly observes: “Failing to cite competing theories or prior work is a basic transgression of scholarly ethics.”  

Again, this was one of the tactics used by opponents of the OPV theory both before and after the Royal Society (RS) meeting.  Articles and letters that supported the OPV hypothesis were routinely rejected by journals such as Nature and Science, while dozens of submissions in support of the bushmeat hypothesis were published.  And nowhere was the OPV theory described, save in passing in reviews of my book The River by commentators such as Weiss and Wain-Hobson.  Both their reviews, in Science and Nature Medicine,  were essentially fair, but they led to later statements by the same men which prematurely declared the theory to have been disproved, and which were based more on assertion than on sound and balanced scientific reasoning.  I have been told by several sources that by 2000 Robin Weiss held an unofficial role of special advisor on AIDS for Nature and(to a lesser extent) Science.  He and a Science journalist, Jon Cohen, effectively decided what was published on AIDS in these leading journals, and what wasn’t.

Meanwhile several scientists who attended the Royal Society meeting, notably the vaccine-makers Hilary Koprowski and Stanley Plotkin, indulged in rather cynical academic tricks designed to give the impression of having won an argument, tricks which often employed dubious data and faulty analysis.  On occasions they misrepresented what I had written in my papers, and then criticised me for their falsified versions of my position.  (This of course reflects what Latham says Rambaut has done in the COVID debate.)  On other occasions they used large parts of my own research and references, but without acknowledging that the baseline data came from me.  Professor Plotkin was especially cynical.   In 2001 he promised to place a series of papers and letters which allegedly supported his arguments in the public domain, but despite several courteous reminders, he had still not done so 8 years later.  In a court case in 2018 he finally revealed that he had deposited some of these papers in a US archive, but then revealed that the papers were only to be opened after his death. On the one hand, this showed a large amount of chutzpah. On another, it showed how desperate he was to be seen to have won the argument at any cost.  And if that situation ever changed, at least he would not be around to witness it. 

Of these opposition figures, Michael Worobey occupies a special role.  Between 2000 and 2002, he frequently claimed to me that he retained an open mind about the origins of AIDS, and stated that attempts to date the pandemic using phylogenetic means were a mess, a “dog’s dinner”.  I later learned that his alleged impartiality had been a sham, and indeed, he went on to be installed in his own laboratory in Arizona, where he has established a reputation for phylogenetic studies analysing the theoretical early history of the AIDS pandemic virus, HIV-1, and placing the start of the pandemic ever earlier in time.  (All of these articles have been based on a faulty phylogenetic model, the “molecular clock”, used to represent the constant rate at which he believes that HIV-1 mutates. This analysis ignores the far more important evolutionary factor of recombination, which is especially crucial in the case of retroviruses such as HIV, for which it is roughly ten times more significant than mutation.  I might add that all such phylogenetic articles have been based on the unproven assumption that HIV-1 evolved from a single viral crossover from chimp to human, rather than a more recent multiple crossover event stemming from the administration of contaminated polio vaccines.)

Dr Worobey has since performed similar flip-flops on COVID, first affecting to be open-minded about how it began, but later writing articles which were determinedly opposed to any lab leak scenario. For instance his article published in Science in December 2021, “Dissecting the early COVID-19 cases in Wuhan” investigated the earliest known COVID cases in the city from December 2019 onwards, and appeared to show that the great majority clustered around the wet market.  [See: https://www.science.org/doi/pdf/10.1126/science.abm4454] But he unequivocally presented these findings as “strong evidence” in favour of a natural origin for SARS-CoV-2. The paper failed even to mention that several sources had identified other COVID-like cases which allegedly occurred in Wuhan in October and November 2019, involving patients who might not have provided blood samples or appeared in official hospital records.  If any of these early cases had been infected with SARS-CoV-2, then they would be far more likely candidates as index viruses of the epidemic, which would mean that the cluster of cases around the wet market would have merely constituted a secondary outbreak around a prime potential infection site.  There are several other grounds on which Latham criticises the arguments and methods of members of the SWAT team, but I will leave it to readers to investigate further in Latham’s article if they so wish. 

But before closing, I would like to return to the article mentioned earlier by Sirotkin and Sirotkin, entitled “Might SARS-CoV-2 Have Arisen via Serial Passage through an Animal Host or Cell Culture?”  [https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bies.202000091]  This article uses the example of the outbreak of H1N1 Swine Flu in the 1970s, describing the virus as a “variant of the pandemic influenza virus that was genetically modified before it either leaked out of a Soviet lab or was introduced as part of an attenuated vaccine trial in 1977”.   The Sirotkins go on to explain: “The Soviet strain of serially passaged H1N1 Swine Flu was likely being developed as part of a vaccine program, one of the humane goals of gain-of-function research that exist alongside riskier and more troublesome ones like developing bioweapons.” This is slightly misleading, in that when developing attenuated vaccines, virologists are actually searching for variants which are less aggressive and virulent, rather than more virulent, as in biowarfare research.  What it emphasises, however, is a simple but rarely highlighted truth: that the serial passage of viruses, especially in different substrates, is a way of fast-tracking evolution which can be used for the benefit or detriment of mankind; (the development of attenuated vaccines or the development of bioweapons).

But there is a much earlier example than the H1N1 episode in 1977, for it was exactly this process which was taking place at the core of the experimental research into the development of CHAT vaccine undertaken at the Medical Laboratory of Stanleyville in the Belgian Congo in the late 1950s, by a group of American and Belgian scientists led by Hilary Koprowski, Stanley Plotkin and Ghislain Courtois.   Let me emphasise: I am certainly not proposing that the CHAT vaccine trials in the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi were a front for some sort of horrific biowarfare experiment.  But let us briefly examine what did happen before and during those trials.

Polioviruses were put into different substrates which included chimpanzee kidney tissue culture incorporating chimp serum as a growth medium; human embryonic stem cells from amniotic tissues obtained from the local maternity hospital; and, in all likelihood, a new type of human cell called a human diploid cell strain, which had been developed as a “safe vaccine substrate” by the Wistar Institute directed by Koprowski in 1959 or before.  Of course, if a contaminating virus is put into a safe substrate to produce a live vaccine, the result is still a contaminated vaccine, so when the resultant vaccines were given to hundreds of thousands of Africans (but not Europeans) living in the Congo, there was a predictably bad outcome.  The preparatory techniques employed for these vaccines involved the serial passage of viruses which included not only poliovirus, but also any contaminating viruses that happened to be present in the product, which was newly created as each fresh vaccine batch was produced.  It is my belief (based on a lot more evidence than that provided here) that these events marked the birth of AIDS. This is in preference to the postulated transfer event from a Pan troglodytes troglodytes chimpanzee to a human being in south-eastern Cameroon in around 1908, which is what bushmeat scientists such as Worobey currently believe.   It is amazing what far-fetched scenarios scientists can assert once their base-line theory has been installed as the default theory by “the great and the good”. 

Interestingly, in an email sent in 2017 to Lochlann Jain, a Professor of Social Medicine who was interviewing Robin Weiss about the OPV theory, Weiss declared that “In 2001 I jumped off the fence on the polio vaccine hypothesis in favour of ‘disproved’…But I am open to persuasion that my conclusion was premature.”    [See “An introduction to Lochlann Jain’s article about the OPV/AIDS hypothesis, and its treatment at the Royal Society meeting on the Origins of HIV and the AIDS Epidemic”, dated August 26, 2020, on this site.]  

It’s a shame of course that Professor Weiss didn’t think things through a bit more carefully before he announced his conclusions in 2001. It’s also a shame that he does not have the integrity to pen an open letter to one of his favoured journals, such as Nature or Science, to explain his possible change of heart (and indeed why he declared the OPV theory to have been disproved in the first place).  If he did that, he might actually do some good, rather than merely protect the reputation of the scientific establishment, and of people such as Hilary Koprowski.   Interestingly, in another email sent to Professor Jain in 2017, Weiss announced: “I would not have trusted Koprowski more than I could throw him”.   His sudden burst of bravado was made four years after Koprowski died at the age of 96. 

But back to the Sorotkin article which, in its conclusion, spells out a simple but rarely-revealed truth. It declares: “The history of gain-of-function research is one of science’s most significant and troubling, especially since the Nuremberg Code, research scientists’ Hippocratic Oath, dictates that experiments that could endanger human life should only occur if the potential humanitarian benefits greatly outweigh the risks.”  In Stanleyville risky experiments which fast-tracked the process of evolution were carried out by scientists who were profiting from their ability to carry out last-minute research in colonies which were about to achieve Independence.  Koprowski’s group may well have been trying to develop an better polio vaccine.   But in reality, it is usually a bad idea if those carrying out such research are highly ambitious scientists who are driven by the lure of profit or fame, and who lack a strong sense of sensible caution or ethical responsibility.  What often results from such ego-driven efforts is disaster, denial and attempted cover-up. 

As in Stanleyville, so in Wuhan, it would seem.  This simple analogy demonstrates that there is little new under the sun.  It also highlights the paper-thin dividing line that can exist between glory and disaster in scientific experimentation.

EH  May 31, 2022.