The Lancet faces a backlash after touting the US lab leak theory of Covid-19

The Lancet is facing a backlash after a report by the Covid Commission yesterday suggested the disease may have leaked from a laboratory in the US.

The paper said it remains “feasible” that Sars-Cov-2 arose from a natural spill or laboratory incident and called for safeguards to reduce the risk.

But the report, the result of two years of work, also suggested US researchers could be to blame. Alongside mentioning facilities in Wuhan, China, it noted that “independent researchers have not yet examined US labs,” and said the US National Institutes of Health had resisted “disclosure of details” of their work.

At a conference in Madrid this year, economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who chairs the commission, said he was “fairly confident” that Sars-Cov-2 “came from a US biotechnology lab, not from nature” – a claim which has since been widely used by Chinese diplomats.

In August, Prof. Sachs appeared on a podcast hosted by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of the world’s most prominent anti-vaccination commentators, to discuss his beliefs, just days after Instagram and Facebook suspended an account Mr. Kennedy ran had, because it had shared the platforms, been told Covid misinformation, particularly in relation to vaccines.

Experts said Prof Sachs’ actions overshadowed much of the research and recommendations in the 58-page report, and criticized it lancet for resisting calls to remove it.

“Sach’s appearance on RFK Jr.’s podcast undermines the seriousness of the Lancet Commission’s mission to the point of negating it,” said Prof Angela Rasmussen of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Canada.

“This could be one of them lancet the most embarrassing moments in relation to his role as steward and leader in delivering critical knowledge about science and medicine,” she said, adding that she was “shocked at how blatantly” the report ignored key evidence on the origins of Covid.

Prof David Robertson, Director of the University of Glasgow’s Center for Virus Research, added: “It is truly disappointing to see such a potentially influential report contributing to further misinformation on such an important issue.”

Prof. Sachs stuck to his previous comments, adding that he oversaw “this part of the work” on the genesis of Sars-Cov-2. Last summer he set up a first task force led by Dr. Peter Daszak, concerned that she was too biased towards the natural origin hypothesis.

It was never reformed, but Prof Sachs said the commissioners had “extensively consulted and met with a number of scientists”.

“Everyone approved the final text. The issue of a possible release in the lab mainly concerns the issue of the joint US-China work that was underway on Sars-like viruses,” he said. Prof Robertson added: “We need to understand details on the natural origin side, for example the exact intermediate species involved, but that doesn’t mean there is any basis for the wild speculation that US laboratories were involved.”

But Prof Peter Hotez, a member of the Lancet Commission and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said there had been “differing views” and he had “pressed hard for the mention of the US to be removed.” “. Labors in the report because it was “a distraction.”

He added that he was “speechless” when Prof. Sachs appeared on Mr. Kennedy’s podcast. Once economic adviser to the Soviet Union, Prof. Sachs recently sided with Vladimir Putin in his demands to stop NATO expansion.

He was named twice time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and was recently signed as an unpaid adviser to Josep Borrell, the European Union best foreign diplomat.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022] The Lancet faces a backlash after touting the US lab leak theory of Covid-19

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