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Rejoinder - Lancet's Disingenuous Rebuttal
By Yoichi Shimatsu
Methinks they protest too loudly on behalf of Lancet's sponsors in a British foreign policy establishment infected with the noxious MI-6 virus. What strikes me about that archaic medical journal's accusations is a lack of scientific rigor and more grievously pathological abuse of the English language. The science of propaganda deserves better.
Purportedly an expression of support for Chinese medical workers combating the Wuhan-centered contagion, the disingenuous thrust of the signed statement is against "conspiracy theories suggesting COVID-19 does not have a natural origin."
Then in their haste to suppress online opinion, these same petitioners assign blame for the present contagion on Hong Kong, again as did the WHO in 2002, with this boner, "Scientists from multiple countries have published and analysed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife." In one breath that once again wrongly implicates the HKSAR as the source of pandemic.
That false claim of evolutionary genesis implicates pangolins and horseshoe bats found in a semitropical habitat of southern China hundreds of kilometers south of Wuhan as being the "natural" host of SARS mutation. The far-fetched theory is unsupported by credible evidence on the menu inside the seafood market in Wuhan, which has a completely different regional cuisine based on a temperate ecosystem. Such erroneous implication could indeed compel farming communities in Guangzhou and Guanxi region to mass slaughter these wild species as happened to 50,000 migrating birds on arrival in Thailand in 2004 due to the ill-informed panic over avian influenza in commercial chicken raising. Instead of raising such false alarms, the signatories should try to prevent their own foot in mouth disease, as in physicians heal yourselves!
Further misdiagnosis comes from these researchers who state "Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice that jeopardise our global collaboration in the fight against this virus." To the contrary, censorship has been the root cause of fear and rumors.
Don't blame the endangered pangolin or the insect-eating bats, which by no stretch of the imagination could be responsible for splicing HIV proteins into coronavirus as discovered in a molecular analysis done in Delhi. The invention of that chimera-creating technique for the purpose of gain of function (GOF), or more efficient viral replication, was featured in the Journal of Virology issue of September 2011.
As reported in my article series, the COVID-19 chimera was modified with HIV proteins, as discovered by the highly competent team at the University of Delhi and the Indian Institute of Technology. One of the suspect microbiology laboratories in development of biological weapons through synthetic biology has since its inception been related to Porton Down and DSTL, which explains the official pressures on Lancet in their crisis of risk of exposure.
Those noxious same UK authorities are apparently behind a disinformation campaign by unsavory websites that serve as agents provocateurs making erroneous accusations against the Virology Institute in Wuhan to justify the bureaucratic demand in London for sweeping censorship on the British press. Evidence-based rebuttal to false claims, while espousing freedom of expression, is how the totalitarian impulse to contain press freedom should be countered, and certainly not by voicing support for censorship, however in error some voices may be. Freedom of scientific inquiry is protected by a free press, so never forget that Galileo lesson, you ingrates!
I do agree with the petitioners that blame should not be assigned to Chinese researchers and that the local health workers deserve praise for preventing the spread of contagion. The best form of solidarity with these brave souls is to rally worldwide public support against bio-terrorism, including a public effort identify the perpetrators to be followed by stronger international enforcement of the biological weapons treaty at state-run facilities, in the pharmaceutical industry, university research centers and veterinary school laboratories.
Illogical statements and demands for censorship by ill-informed medical researchers in their panic are unhelpful to the cause of public health provided by investigative journalists and the online community at a moment any clues or observation may be useful toward retracing the background of the crime toward apprehending the guilty parties.
Our Chinese colleagues in social media and the press deserve international support for their right to convey public opinion and provide honest coverage of the pandemic, rather than mere acceptance of a monopoly of elitist self-interest that dominates the official narrative, which has already been revised due to statistical errors and public pressures, after many unfortunate cases harmful to medical staffers and the public interest. The UK has its own issues with a supposedly nonexistent Official Secrets Act now impeding the inquiry into how British citizens contracted COVID-19 or how researchers in Commonwealth institutions may have contributed to the GOF of COVID-19.
However erroneous or prejudiced some claims may prove to be, an uncensored social media, a free press and public discussion are necessary in times of crisis like these. The call for censorship, in contrast, is societal suicide.
Author: Yoichi Shimatsu is a science journalist and former editor with The Japan Times group who has organized public-health information teams in Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak and the Thailand avian influenza contagion, and has reported extensively from deep inside the Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone on the effects of radioactivity on local residents and gathered data at odds with the disinformation from the Japanese government. He was until recently based in Nanjing, south of the present outbreak, and was a founding faculty member of journalism schools in Hong Kong and Beijing.
"Statement in support of the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals in China combating COVID-19" can be found at: