A public health researcher admitted Thursday that many scientists ignored or rejected the COVID-19 lab leak hypothesis due to their dislike of former President Donald Trump.
The lab leak theory “got jumbled up together with some of the more crazy aspects of Trump, and scientists recoiled against that and went in favor of the theory that COVID-19 had emerged out of a natural process versus a lab escape,” J. Stephen Morrison, the director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Global Health Policy Center, told NPR’s “Up First.”
The lab leak theory posits that COVID-19 could have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where scientists conducted gain-of-function research on bat-based coronaviruses. Gain-of-function research entails making viruses more deadly or transmittable, and can have civilian or military uses.
Morrison did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.
Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Trump were two of the biggest proponents of the lab leak theory, although researchers such as Rutgers University professor Dr. Richard Ebright and intelligence officials like former National Security Council China expert Matthew Pottinger have also promoted it. (RELATED: Here’s Why The Lab Leak Theory Shouldn’t Be Dismissed)
The United States government considers a lab leak one of the two likeliest scenarios for the emergence of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, CNN reported Wednesday.
Some journalists have admitted that they did not seriously cover the lab leak theory because its most prominent supporters were Republicans. Claiming that the Trump presidency was a “stress test” for reporters, Aaron Blake of The Washington Post argued “if some kind of proof [of a lab leak] had existed, Trump would have pushed hard for its release.”
New York Times COVID-19 reporter Apoorva Mandavilli slammed the lab leak theory as having “racist roots” in a pair of deleted tweets. “Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots,” she tweeted.