Saturday, May 29, 2021

So, If Covid WAS Manmade, What You Gonna Do About It?!?!

WaPo |  The mainstream media is engaged in some very warranted soul-searching when it comes to the possibility that the coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China, rather than occurring naturally. Reporters often wrote about the theory dismissively, citing scientists who backed that up. There is still no real proof the theory is true, but scientists now regard it as increasingly plausible, as The Post’s Glenn Kessler detailed this week. And the Biden administration says it’s redoubling efforts to get to the truth.

But beyond media accountability, it’s valid to ask: What’s really at stake here? If the theory were somehow proved, what would it change, including for the U.S. government, its top officials, including the current and former presidents, and China?

A big part of the appeal of the theory right now — beyond the chance to apply egg to the face of the popular boogeyman (particularly on the right) that is the media — lies in how intriguing it is. A deadly worldwide pandemic originating from a lab accident — or worse — is basically a Hollywood script. That it would involve a nefarious and powerful foreign government that also happens to be communist is almost a bit too over the top.

As for what it would mean for China’s culpability? We already know the virus came from China and that the Chinese government has been anything but transparent. This began on its watch, and its lack of transparency cost the world valuable time in preparing for and combating the spread of the virus.

If the virus came from one of its labs, that would mean China was even more negligent (at best) than previously known and that its coverup was even worse. It’s possible that even the Chinese government might not truly know what happened. But regardless, it has balked at admitting outside scientists who might be able to shed light on this and many other subjects.

Some have wagered that if such a theory proves true, it might turn China into something of a pariah state, given how angry other countries would be. There would be calls for extensive sanctions, particularly from the United States. But much of the world, including this country, relies upon trade with China, making such efforts fraught.

It would also raise questions about just how it leaked from the lab. We know scientists engage in sometimes-controversial “gain of function” experiments on viruses, but the most severe theories go quite a bit further: They involve the idea that China was engaging in even more dangerous conduct and possibly experimenting with a deliberate bioweapon. Proving such a thing would be even more difficult than proving a lab leak, and there are many more reasons to doubt the bioweapon theory than the lab leak theory. But it would force some very tough conversations — and pressure — to determine just how it leaked from the lab and how negligent or potentially nefarious China’s actions were.