51 minutes | May 27, 2021

Lab Leak

There’s a swerve in the road, signs that say “Sharp Curves Ahead,” in the origin story of the COVID pandemic. Where did that virus come from? And how did it leap to the human species, to kill by now more than three million of us? For a year and a half, it’s been a buried issue, a trial without evidence, a detective story without its Sherlock Holmes on the case. And now the mystery plot thickens alongside a second buried story: that the Wuhan lab in China that did manipulate viruses to make them more deadly for humans had dollar support, American science alongside it and US oversight by healthcare officials including Dr. Fauci himself. If the killer virus did leap from that lab in Wuhan, who’s responsible for a joint venture that produced the deadliest accident in human history? Nicholson Baker.Alina Chan. Antonio Regalado.Richard Ebright. Nicholson Baker, Antonio Regalado, and Alina Chan join each other in conversation on this week’s show. Richard Ebright concludes the hour. Eavesdrop with us this hour: on the COVID question, the “lab leak” mystery that is finally front and center and making a lot of the experts squirm. It’s about where and how the coronavirus made contact with people. Is the merciless pandemic revealing nature’s way with viruses, or the hand of science reaching far beyond its grasp, without even counting the risks? We’re listening in on a meta-novelist, a Singapore biologist in a Cambridge lab, and a scoop artist high in scientific journalism—all puzzling where the killer coronavirus came from. And we’re engaging one of the rare American scientists who tried to steer his colleagues off a path to disaster: Richard Ebright.
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